As COVID has continued to impact design work and build priorities across multiple industries, our sister publication, Healthcare Design, investigated how the pandemic was impacting the industry’s priorities. Launched online in August as a follow-up to its 2020 iteration, the 2021 COVID-19 Industry Survey was open to any active industry member.
In total, the survey yielded more than 300 responses; around 50 percent of respondents identified as architects or engineers, with owners, interior designers, builders, and consultants all represented.
Priorities Shift to Address Pandemic Pain Points
First, the survey explored how pandemic-related work has continued since mid-2020, with identifying solutions to remain operational during a patient surge being the top choice 43% of respondents.
Other focuses include specifying products/updating spaces to enhance flexibility (38%) and to enhance infection prevention and cleanability (37%). However, 22% of industry members said they weren’t personally involved in a COVID-19 response over the previous 12 months.
Additionally, when asked if the delta variant was influencing an uptick in pandemic-related work at the time of its surge in late summer, only about 15% of respondents indicated that it was.
Projects Affected Disproportionately Across the Board
Regarding projects in early planning stages prior to the coronavirus, the survey asked how they fared over the past year. Thirty-four percent of respondents said most projects moved forward as planned or were slightly adapted and/or delayed, while 30% reported most were slightly adapted and/or delayed and some were put on hold for at least a year.
As for projects already in progress prior to COVID-19, responses were even more favorable, with 44% saying most moved forward as planned or were slightly adapted and/or delayed and, next closest, 26% percent reporting most projects moved forward as planned.
Yet when asked to consider how new healthcare project work progressed over the past 12 months, respondents’ experiences varied across the board, with 35% saying project work remained at pre-pandemic levels.
It was then a near-even split between all remaining options: 23% said work dipped slightly compared to business before COVID-19, 22% reported project work escalated, and 20% experienced project work fall considerably.
Outlook for Healthcare Construction Remains High, Despite Challenges
However, when industry members were asked to project three years from now, respondents were mostly optimistic, as 35% expect project work to exceed pre-pandemic levels and 31% anticipate it will remain at pre-pandemic levels.
Respondents also identified the biggest challenges they’re facing on new projects today, with 79% reporting inflated construction costs tied to material and labor shortages as a primary concern.
Other issues topping the list were developing solutions effective for today’s operations but supportive of future flexibility (38%) and lack of funding due to provider revenue loss during COVID-19 (37%).
Finally, when looking forward, respondents were asked to consider major goals healthcare organizations will wish to achieve through new projects in a post-pandemic world. Sixty-five percent chose designing for future flexibility and adaptability as the top goal, with implementing infection control strategies, technology adoption, and addressing resiliency/identifying solutions to remain operational in a similar crisis rounding out the top three choices.
Get the full overview here, for a more visual representation of what the team found out.
Another version of this article was originally published on our sister site, Healthcare Design.