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article imageQ&A: How technology helps build the modern hospital Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 9, 2018 in Health
MBI Group, a leading NYC construction firm, has recently won a bid to construct multiple patient care spaces across its New York City network of hospitals. To discover how modern technology assists with such projects, Alex Getelman provides an insight.
Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is one of the oldest and largest teaching hospitals in the U.S. The hospital group have a vision of high-quality, patient-centric facilities to serve New York. For the project MBI Group has been selected. What goes into a modern hospital design and how can digital technology assist?
To find out more, Digital Journal spoke with Alex Getelman, Executive Managing Director of MBI Group. As well as the Mount Sinai project, Getelman also offers his view on the future of construction.
Digital Journal: How has construction changed over the past five years?
Alex Getelman: The world of construction has changed significantly in the last five years. Today, one of the biggest changes is that the majority of the work in the city has become non-union. In New York City, there has never been this many non-union large-scale construction projects, like high-rise buildings from Hudson Yards to Long Island City, go non-union. Open shop construction, where both union and non-union firms work different portions of a job site, has become commonplace in residential projects and is migrating into the commercial sector. Non-union construction projects move very quickly and are more hands-on.
DJ: How is technology disrupting construction?
Getelman: Although they have the info readily available, people are not taking the time and effort to seek out the answers needed. Years ago, all construction contract documents, including contract agreements, SOW, general conditions, bill of quantities, drawings, costs and construction schedule, were hand-written and you had to follow-up with everyone working on the project to ensure the job was moving. When you rely on software programs, it is assumed that everyone is doing their jobs. However, you still have to follow-up.
The new technology is helpful but hurtful. It’s helpful for the fact that you can easily find the answer, but if you’re not physically doing the due diligence to get the answer, the work becomes stagnant. Phones on job sites are very unsafe and time consuming. People become less focused on the trade and more focused on the phone – whether it’s personal or professional.
DJ: Which technologies stand out as being the most useful?
Getelman: There are a number of innovative tools aimed at simplifying work processes onsite by helping teams collaborate, providing access to plans and blueprints on the go, and even improving safety. Project management platforms, such as Sage Timberline and Procore, are great for accessing information and tracking long-lead items remotely and instantaneously. This technology offers real time accessibility for all project team members, allowing the team to stay in the loop and to access information remotely.
Sage Timberline Office combines construction management with real estate management, linking commercial and industrial contractors, real estate managers and developers, residential builders, and electrical and mechanical contractors with one central source. Also, having information at your fingertips through search engines such as Google is very useful.
DJ: Is innovation coming from larger firms or from startups?
Getelman: Both; there are some very newly founded companies that are building some spectacular projects. But it really comes down to the entire team. It needs to be a group effort from architect, contractor, and anyone else involved. Your team really needs to be able to communicate to get an innovative job done from start to finish.
DJ: How would you define core and shell construction?
Getelman: The scope of work for core and shell construction includes the design and construction of the base building – building from out of the ground, literally constructing the core. The interior core structure of the building and the exterior building envelope are fully designed as the first phase of the project. The core of the building is covered by the shell as the first part of construction. Once the core and shell are built, the internal architectural elements and tenant fit-out can be integrated throughout the building.
DJ: Have you applied new technology with the Mount Sinai new medical and patient care spaces project?
Getelman: We’re constantly applying new technology when it comes to communicating our wants and needs to the design team and to the suppliers. We’re always adapting with new software programs to track down materials or using models to avoid unforeseen conditions and to coordinate the different trades so there’s no hits.
DJ: How about different ways of working, have you modified any work practices?
Getelman: People aren’t physically in the office as much as they used to be. There is just a lot more you can do outside of the headquarters with access to wireless technology, allowing you to spend more time in the field and to push the job forward. As owners you need to adapt to the fact that your staff is not in the office as much and understand that they’re still putting in the same amount of time and effort. In the world of construction and general contracting, there’s a lot more you can accomplish outside of the headquarters.
DJ: Where is construction heading over the next five years?
Getelman: Interior spaces are becoming more open, brighter and more efficient. The big, private office is in the past. People want to create a more communicative work environment. The WeWorks of the world have changed everything to the point where you’re able to work while still being in a social environment. Working on an island like Manhattan, you’re either going to build vertical or rehab existing properties. Fortunately, MBI Group has over 30 years of experience doing successful projects in sectors such as corporate, healthcare, educational and government. We are proud to bring to life our clients’ innovative ideas and vision for their workspaces in a cost-effective and timely manner.
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