Construction Programs

A successful healthcare system construction program should drive savings on construction capital purchases, facilitate networking for participating providers and assist with the tracking and reporting of contracted supplier spend.
By Mark Kearschner, director of construction services, Premier

Construction and renovation are likely among the most complex and expensive projects that hospitals undertake today. Providers invest immense amounts of time, resources, expertise and manpower to plan for space, site and structure design, as well as to arrange for and coordinate the work of architects and contractors – not to mention the myriad of supplies, equipment, materials and furnishings.

Most facilities rely on outside assistance to handle this type of work. Though some approach these projects piecemeal, others choose to work with group purchasing organizations, which, until recently, have not offered such services. The objectives of any successful healthcare system construction program should be to:

  • Drive savings on construction capital purchases through the utilization of contracted suppliers and a capital equipment portfolio of information technology and clinical equipment;
  • Provide a networking and knowledge sharing forum for participating providers; and
  • Assist with the tracking and reporting of contracted supplier spend.

Construction programs find success, in part, through hands-on, collaborative work with participants and their outside contracting and design resources. An efficient construction program also delivers expertise that enables a hospital facility or construction manager to gain insight into an area of purchasing that is very complex and expensive. A team of experts must establish relationships with a facility’s architect, general contractor, construction manager and equipment planner in order to engage all stakeholders in the construction decision-making process, and educate third parties on the benefits of the agreements.

From a financial standpoint, whether working on their own or with a consultant, it’s imperative that hospitals benefit from supply chain savings. Up to 25 percent of construction costs are clinical equipment, IT, furniture and fixtures, requiring supply chain expertise through relationships with suppliers, physician groups, in-house departments and designers. Validated savings are essential to the success of all construction projects.

A look at services offered
Due to the complexity of construction and renovation projects, hospital representatives depend on a great deal of assistance through all phases of a project – from planning and design to construction. Some examples include:

  • Easy-to-access education materials, capital equipment portfolios, case studies, white papers and best practices.
  • Input from, and the ability to interact with, peer hospital representatives.
  • Online technologies for capital budgeting, equipment planning, and capital demand aggregation tools through companies such as Attainia.
  • Programs that easily allow project staff to manage routine annual capital budgeting processes and view real-time aggregated capital demand data.
  • Ongoing tiered support, which includes aligning contracted suppliers within member specifications for greater contract utilization.
  • Follow-up site visits with participants, general contractors, architects and equipment planners.
  • An on-site project manager to provide specification and bid review; local negotiation assistance; contracted supplier volume tracking; ongoing evaluation of facility maintenance, repair, and operating purchases and needs; and conflict resolution with general contractors, architects and equipment planners early on in a project – which can be invaluable down the road as inevitable issues arise.

Flexibility is also important when it comes to facilities and construction-related agreements. Premier’s construction services program covers a range of categories, from mechanical, electrical and plumbing, to furniture and fixtures. Its portfolio includes construction management services, which provide design/build; facilities management assistance; capital equipment procurement; engineering; application and design assistance; risk assessments and construction planning; environmental (air quality) monitoring; and capital asset inventory assistance.

Mark Kearschner is responsible for Premier’s multi-billion construction program, including supplier and contractor/owner relationships, program/process development, contract utilization, construction services and capital up-take. In addition to his position at Premier, Kearschner is a licensed General Contractor; chairs Premier’s construction advisory council and is a member of the department of energy’s subcommittee. He can be reached at or by calling (704) 816-5595 (office) or (704) 975-8941 (mobile).