Everything You Need To Know About Medical Office Construction
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Everything You Need To Know About Medical Office Construction

medical office construction

Everything You Need To Know About Medical Office Construction

Medical office construction requires meticulous planning to ensure the smooth functioning of your healthcare facility. With adequate space, a skilled architect, and an experienced builder, the construction process can be manageable. However, it’s essential to address numerous considerations both before and after initiating the project.

Let’s delve into the intricacies of medical office construction, including its distinctive prerequisites, and glean expert advice on achieving successful outcomes.

What is Medical Office Construction?

Medical office construction involves the development of properties specifically designed to accommodate medical office buildings (MOBs). These facilities typically include examination rooms, dental clinics, pharmacies, and patient waiting areas, tailored to meet the needs of healthcare professionals providing outpatient services and care.

MOBs are strategically located, either near or on hospital campuses. On-campus medical offices are situated within or adjacent to hospital premises, whereas off-campus MOBs are found further away, often in suburban or residential areas. The latter, also known as ‘ambulatory care’ facilities, aim to provide convenient access to healthcare services for the community.

Ownership of medical offices varies, with hospitals, private investors, and developers among the primary stakeholders. These buildings typically range in size from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. Investors often lease MOBs to hospitals under long-term agreements, generating rental income.

Despite primarily serving as medical outpatient facilities, MOBs are classified as ‘business-use’ structures according to the International Building Code.

Types of Medical Office Buildings

Medical office buildings (MOBs) encompass a wide range of healthcare services for diagnosing and treating patients. Some prominent examples of medical office buildings include:

  • Urgent Care Centers
  • Primary Care Clinics
  • Pharmacies
  • Laboratory Facilities
  • Community Health Centers
  • Specialty Clinics (e.g., Cardiology Clinic, Orthopaedic Clinic, Dermatology Clinic, Optometry Clinic, etc.)
  • Dental Offices
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Imaging Centers
  • Ambulatory Surgical Centers and Other Emergency Facilities
  • Physical Therapy Clinics
  • Women’s Health Centers

These facilities collectively contribute to providing comprehensive healthcare services to patients, covering various medical specialties and treatment needs.

6 Unique Requirements of Medical Office Construction

Constructing medical office buildings entails navigating unique challenges compared to standard office buildings, given their specific location, safety, and privacy requirements. When selecting a commercial contractor for this endeavor, it’s crucial to ensure they address the following six mandatory requirements:

1. Accessible Location

Before finalizing the site location for your medical office building, it’s essential to consider several key questions to ensure ease of access for your patients:

  • Accessibility for Elderly and Disabled Individuals: Is the area easily accessible for elderly and disabled people? Consider factors such as proximity to public transportation, presence of ramps and elevators, and overall ease of navigation for individuals with mobility challenges.
  • Parking Availability: Does the location offer ample parking for patients and visitors? Assess the availability of parking spaces to accommodate patient traffic, as convenient parking facilities can enhance the patient experience.
  • Demographics of the Area: What are the present demographics of the area, and how rapidly is the community growing? Analyze factors such as population density, age distribution, and socioeconomic status to ensure alignment with your target patient demographic.
  • Healthcare Spending Patterns: What are the healthcare spending patterns in this community? Evaluate the demand for healthcare services and potential patient volume based on local healthcare utilization trends and spending patterns.
  • Proximity to Public Transportation: Is the site close to public transportation hubs? Consider the accessibility of the location for patients who rely on public transportation, as convenient access to transit options can increase patient engagement and accessibility.
  • Nearby Amenities and Retail Centers: Are there nearby retail centers or amenities that drive traffic to this area? Assess the availability of complementary services and amenities, such as pharmacies, restaurants, and retail stores, which can attract patients to the medical office building.

The ideal location for medical office buildings should be in densely populated areas, within a 30-minute drive of patients. This proximity helps attract consistent traffic to the commercial facility and enhances accessibility for patients seeking healthcare services.

2. Building Codes and Regulations

If you intend to bill for services to Medicare or Medicaid, it’s imperative that your building adheres to the Guidelines for Design and Construction of Outpatient Facilities set forth by the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI). These guidelines encompass a comprehensive range of building regulations for commercial builders, including specifications for plumbing fixtures, specialized HVAC systems, minimum room sizes, and safety standards.

Ensuring compliance with ADA accessibility requirements involves constructing ramps, bathrooms, corridors, and elevators that cater to the needs of individuals with disabilities and patients receiving ambulatory care. By implementing these measures, your facility can provide equitable access to healthcare services for all patients.

3. Patient-Oriented Technology

In the post-pandemic era, digitally integrated spaces have emerged as the cornerstone of present and future healthcare delivery. Modern diagnostic and treatment technologies, including vital sign monitors, practice management software, electronic health record (EHR) systems, and client documentation software, are now indispensable components of tech-centric medical offices. These advancements, including AI and cloud-based software, play a crucial role in providing personalized patient experiences by optimizing workflows and enhancing efficiency.

Moreover, leveraging in-time scheduling and electronic kiosks represents an effective strategy to minimize patients’ wait times and reduce congestion within healthcare facilities. By streamlining appointment scheduling processes and enabling self-service options for patients, healthcare providers can enhance the overall patient experience and improve operational efficiency.

4. Material Finishes

Sterilized materials are imperative for maintaining hygiene and controlling infectious diseases in hospital environments. It’s essential for your commercial contractor to consult the guidelines provided by the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) for the permitted list of materials, ensuring compliance with industry standards.

Furthermore, depending on the medical services offered, developers may opt for stricter material finishes in the construction of the medical office building. This ensures that the environment meets the specific needs of patients and practitioners.

Building materials play a crucial role in attracting tenants. Premium finishes, enhanced lighting, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and other advanced features can enhance the appeal of the space, ultimately attracting high-paying tenants. For instance, if a medical office building specializes in surgery operations, high-end or luxury finishes may be necessary to meet the expectations of patients and practitioners alike.

By investing in quality materials and amenities, developers can create a desirable environment that meets the needs of healthcare professionals and patients, while also attracting high-value tenants.

5. Acoustics Control

Any medical facility adhering to the FDI standards is required to adhere to the acoustic requirements outlined by the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI), particularly in terms of Sound Transmission Coefficient (STC) and Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class (OITC).

In medical office construction and design, prioritizing privacy is essential. This includes implementing higher STC ratings for common walls between patient examination rooms and waiting areas. Privacy measures are crucial in medical settings to uphold doctor-patient confidentiality as mandated by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Additionally, the building envelope of a medical office should effectively regulate sound transmission between its interiors and exteriors. It’s important for your general contracting company to conduct ambient sound monitoring and ensure that appropriate noise levels are maintained within the structure. By addressing these acoustic requirements, medical facilities can create a conducive environment for patient care while safeguarding privacy and confidentiality.

6. Design for Operations and Programming

The design of a medical office building should be tailored to meet the needs, objectives, and preferences of its end users. The operational model of the space is a key determinant in shaping its design considerations. From accommodating the patient lifecycle, including areas such as inquiry desks, waiting lobbies, exam rooms, and billing counters, to optimizing staff workflows for tasks like trash collection, cleaning, and maintenance, the building design significantly influences the efficiency and functionality of a medical practice.

Proper and visible signage is essential to prevent navigational confusion for visitors within the facility. Additionally, parking lots should be strategically located to ensure easy access for pedestrians and emergency vehicles such as ambulances, taking into account traffic patterns and safety considerations. By carefully considering these factors, the design of a medical office building can enhance the overall experience for patients, visitors, and staff while optimizing operational efficiency.

8 Medical Office Construction Tips

Certainly, here are some essential tips to consider when building and using an ideal dental or medical office for your practice:

Tip No. 1 – Recognize Your Limits in Medical Office Construction:

While you possess expertise in medical matters, building a medical office involves complexities beyond your field. Acknowledge the need to involve professionals who specialize in medical office construction.

Your academic background may not equip you with the skills needed to oversee such a project effectively. Recognize the significant time and effort required to gain the necessary knowledge for managing a construction project.

While knowledge is essential, practical experience in construction is invaluable. Understand that constructing a medical office is not a DIY endeavor. Instead, engage the expertise of a qualified general contractor and an experienced architect familiar with similar projects. Their expertise will ensure the successful completion of your medical office construction project.

Tip No. 2 – Opt for Competitive Bidding:

When embarking on your medical office construction project, competitive bidding is essential. While this process may require time and effort, it is crucial for selecting the ideal team to execute your medical office construction according to your specifications.

Take the necessary time to outline the requirements for your medical office construction thoroughly. Prepare a comprehensive scope of work document and distribute it to potential construction professionals, specifying a deadline for bid submission.

Carefully review the bids received. Seek clarification on any aspects that require further explanation. Compare the offerings of general contractors or architects in detail, ensuring an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you find it challenging to conduct this assessment independently, do not hesitate to seek professional assistance in evaluating bids and identifying the most suitable option for your medical office construction project. By conducting competitive bidding, you can ensure that you select a qualified team capable of delivering your project on time and within budget.

Tip No. 3 – Request and Verify References:

When engaging with potential general contractors or architects for your medical office construction project, it’s crucial to gather references from past project owners. Relying solely on instinct is not sufficient; thorough reference checks provide valuable insights into the individuals or teams you’ll be collaborating with.

Request references from past project owners and take the time to follow up on them diligently. This step is essential for gaining a comprehensive understanding of how a general contractor or architect has performed on previous projects and how they have interacted with their clients.

Prepare a set of general questions to ask references, along with specific inquiries related to the professional skill set of the individual or team. Take detailed notes on the responses and consider them thoughtfully to gain a holistic view of the person’s work ethic, interpersonal skills, financial management capabilities, approach to work, technical expertise, and how these factors will contribute to your medical office construction project.

By thoroughly vetting references, you can make informed decisions and ensure that you select a team that aligns with your project’s requirements and objectives.

Tip No. 4 – Engage in Medical Office Construction Planning:

Devote time to collaborate with the planning professionals involved in developing the blueprint for your medical office construction project. While you may not be directly engaged in the day-to-day construction activities, active participation during the planning stage is crucial.

This involvement allows you to communicate your requirements clearly to the construction team and ensure that all your specifications are incorporated into the building plan.

Arrange a meeting with your general contractor, architect, key subcontractors, owner representative, and other stakeholders involved in the medical office construction project. Use this opportunity to discuss your needs and preferences in detail, ensuring that they are fully understood and integrated into the project plan.

By actively participating in the planning process, you can help shape the direction of the project, address any concerns or special requirements, and ensure that the final outcome aligns with your vision for your medical office.

Tip No. 5 – Consider General Construction Professionals:

In the planning phase of constructing a medical office, you’ll encounter recommendations to hire specialists in medical office construction. While these specialists may promise the best chance of project success, it’s essential to weigh the costs.

Typically, medical office buildings in the United States cost around $500 per square foot. Specialists in medical office construction often charge 20 to 50% more than well-established general construction professionals.

Instead of opting for these specialists, consider engaging experienced general contractors and architects with a track record of success. These generalists have the expertise to translate your requirements into a comprehensive building plan while offering competitive pricing.

Prioritize finding professionals who can deliver optimal value for your project budget. Additionally, involve other service providers such as medical equipment suppliers and IT service providers early in the planning process. This ensures that their unique requirements are considered, minimizing potential challenges during the installation of equipment and systems in the medical office building.

By selecting experienced general construction professionals and involving relevant service providers, you can achieve your project goals without overspending on specialized expertise that may not provide proportional value.

Tip No. 6 – Establish a Comprehensive Construction Agreement:

Before commencing your medical office construction, ensure you have a well-drafted construction agreement in place. This agreement should contain clauses that you fully understand and agree to. Never proceed with construction without a signed agreement, and take the time to carefully review and comprehend each clause.

One essential clause to include in the construction agreement is a liquidated damage clause. This clause provides protection against potential delays in the completion of the medical office construction. It allows you to seek compensation for any delays beyond the agreed-upon schedule, ensuring accountability from the general contractor.

By having a comprehensive construction agreement with a liquidated damage clause, you establish clear expectations and safeguards for the project’s timeline and completion. This helps mitigate risks and ensures that your medical office construction progresses smoothly and according to plan.

Tip No. 7 – Embrace Innovation and Out-of-the-Box Thinking:

Don’t confine yourself to conventional approaches when undertaking a medical office construction project. Embrace innovation and think beyond traditional boundaries to unlock new possibilities for your project.

In today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape, it’s essential to explore innovative solutions and leverage advancements in construction practices. Challenge conventional norms and be open to unconventional ideas and methodologies that can enhance the efficiency, functionality, and aesthetics of your medical office.

When faced with challenges during the construction process, don’t hesitate to think creatively and seek alternative solutions. Look for inspiration from diverse sources and be receptive to new ideas that can address your project’s unique requirements.

By adopting an open-minded approach and actively seeking innovative solutions, you can incorporate cutting-edge technologies, sustainable practices, and novel design concepts into your medical office construction. This proactive mindset will enable you to realize your vision and create a medical facility that stands out for its innovation and excellence.

Tip No. 8 – Understand Your Contracts Thoroughly:

After completing the planning phase and drafting contracts with your construction team, it’s crucial to review each contract meticulously. Take the time to read and comprehend the scope of the contracts fully. If any clauses are unclear or require clarification, discuss them with the involved parties and consider redrafting them to ensure they accurately reflect your intentions.

Ensure that all contracts are clear, comprehensive, and align with your expectations for the medical office construction project. Address any ambiguities or discrepancies to prevent misunderstandings and disputes during the project implementation phase.

By understanding and clarifying the terms of each contract, you establish a solid foundation for your medical office construction project. This ensures that the project progresses smoothly and is completed according to your specifications and requirements outlined in the contracts.

These tips encompass some of the most crucial aspects to consider during your medical office construction project. Prioritize understanding every detail of the project to ensure its success. Opting for experienced generalists or specialists can help save costs without compromising quality. Engage actively in the planning phase, select your construction team through competitive bidding, and verify their credentials through references.

Furthermore, adopt an innovative mindset to find creative solutions to challenges. Ensure all contracts are thoroughly reviewed and understood before commencing the project. Trust your instincts and maintain clarity about your objectives throughout the construction process.

If you’re seeking a reliable commercial general contractor for your project, feel free to contact us for a quote. We’re committed to delivering excellence in medical office construction and would be happy to assist you.


Other legal requirements for medical office construction?

In the US, a few legal prerequisites for building medical offices include:

  • How the Certificate of Need (CON) is handled
  • The NFPA, or National Fire Protection Association
  • Code for Health Care Facilities (HCFC) and Code for Life Safety (LSC)
  • Act for Americans with Disabilities
  • Rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): environmental, medical equipment, and licencing compliance

When building a medical office, how can I ensure that employees and patients have the amenities they need?

Make a thorough evaluation of the preferences held by patients and staff. Take their suggestions into consideration when designing the facility, and make sure that every amenity that is built complies with all applicable rules and laws.

What to look for in a general contractor before hiring them for my Medical Office Building Construction?

  • A general contractor for medical office construction should possess the following qualifications:
  • Extensive experience in managing healthcare facility projects.
  • In-depth understanding of stringent medical regulations and compliance requirements.
  • Demonstrated success through positive client reviews, testimonials, and a proven track record of delivering high-quality projects.
  • Proper licensure and insurance coverage to ensure legal compliance and protection against liabilities.
  • Effective communication skills to facilitate clear and transparent communication throughout the construction process.