Affordable Care Act will change the way hospitals are built, used

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2014 - 6:07 PM

An expert says more clinics, ambulatory units and micro-hospitals are in the works.

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Mike Pedersen, the new chief of the healthcare market section for Mortenson Construction, on site at the 212 Medical Center in Chaska.

Photo: Richard Sennott • richard.sennott@startribune.com,

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Trained as an engineer, Mike Pedersen was attracted to his current area of specialty — Mortenson Construction’s healthcare sector leader — because a thoughtfully designed and constructed building can greatly affect patients in need.

“It’s a perfect fit for me,” he says. “My path stems from my love of buildings and the health care environment. The connection with patients is what we do.”

Pedersen’s mom was a nurse and his father had diabetes, so the native of Decatur, Ill., certainly is familiar with the hospital environment.

Golden Valley-based Mortenson is a heavy hitter in the health care construction field — it currently is the nation’s fifth-largest builder in the sector, with more than $1.1 billion under construction in 2012, according to Modern Healthcare.

Locally, Mortenson’s health care footprint includes $116 million in health care construction over the past five years. Projects in the Twin Cities include the Allina WestHealth Emergency Department addition, Park Nicollet TRIA renovation and upgrades, and HCMC PICU and Dialysis renovations.

Pederson joined Mortenson last November, and is responsible for the overall management of the firm’s health care customer relations, business development, design phase planning and construction activities.

While controversy still stews over the Affordable Care Act, a recent survey conducted of 190 health care administrators, facilities leaders and architects by Mortenson indicates the law will have a deep impact on the way buildings are used and designed in delivering care. Health care providers know that they must reduce costs and improve outcomes, and in many ways, their physical plant can help to do so.

Q: Why did you do the survey?

A: We get asked often what impact the [Affordable Care] Act is having in the industry, and what health care systems are doing to respond to it or prepare for changes.

Q: What are some of the takeaways from the survey?

A: We found that more than half of the health care providers feel the ACA will be a step forward in addressing long-term health issues in the United States. But four out of five of those responding still felt some uncertainty on how it will play out. In addition, four out of five respondents said focusing on health outcomes is the right way to go.

On the cost of care, two-thirds of respondents really believe the ACA will lower it. But a third does not believe that. So I think a key takeaway is that patients are really shopping around for care now.

Q: What was the most surprising feedback you received?

A: I was a little surprised that the vast majority of health care providers are still unsure about reimbursement.

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