Building Smart: Navigating Risks in Healthcare Facility Development

Risk management in healthcare construction projects is a multifaceted and intricate process, integral to ensuring that new healthcare centres are built to meet the complex needs of patients, staff, and the community. In this blog, we will break down the process for those at the helm of such initiatives—doctors, hospital owners, and CEOs – to provide them with a clear understanding of the essential steps and considerations involved.

Identifying and Assessing Risks

The initial phase of any healthcare design and architecture project involves a thorough risk assessment. This critical step helps identify potential challenges impacting the project’s timeline, budget, or quality. Key areas of focus during healthcare design and infrastructure development include:

a. Design and Planning:

Often, we see projects slow down due to inadequate architectural and engineering designs. The remedy? Engaging seasoned design professionals, conducting comprehensive design reviews, and incorporating stakeholder feedback to ensure a robust plan from the start.

b. Site Conditions:

Before laying the first stone, evaluating the chosen site’s specific conditions is vital. Factors such as soil quality, existing infrastructure, and environmental considerations can significantly influence construction plans. For example:

  • Soil quality assessment is crucial in a greenfield project where construction occurs on unused lands. For instance, in regions with high rainfall, the soil might be prone to erosion, requiring advanced drainage solutions to prevent waterlogging and structural instability.
  • For projects on previously developed sites, such as converting an old commercial building into a healthcare facility in a city like Mumbai, discovering asbestos or other hazardous materials during demolition can pose significant health risks and lead to project delays during remediation.

c. Regulatory Changes:

The healthcare sector is governed by a dense web of regulations that can change with little notice. Awareness and understanding of these legal frameworks are crucial to ensure compliance and avoid potential project delays or penalties. For example, the mandates of the National Building Codes, NABL, or NABH guidelines are periodically updated for safety and accessibility. A sudden revision requiring larger corridor widths in healthcare facilities could necessitate design modifications, impacting budget and timeline.

d. Supply Chain Disruptions:

Supply chain challenges related to geography and infrastructure can significantly affect the progress of a healthcare architecture and construction project.

“When heavy monsoons delay the delivery of essential materials, it can throw our project timelines off track,” explains Kshititi Nagarkar, Shree Designs.

When building healthcare facilities in remote locations, reliance on materials from across the country or overseas introduces risks.

She notes, “If a crucial transport route is blocked by landslides or there are unexpected customs delays for our imported materials, we have to be prepared to pivot quickly.”

A common hurdle is suppliers’ or contractors’ failure to deliver on time. We tackle this by conducting detailed due diligence, setting clear contractual terms with penalties for delays, and keeping a list of reliable alternate suppliers.

e. Technology and Innovation:

Integrating new technologies poses challenges. Pilot tests and training sessions ensure that innovations enhance our projects rather than hinder them.

f. Financial:

Cost overruns or funding shortfalls should be avoided. Creating detailed cost estimates, establishing a financial buffer, and regularly monitoring expenses keep the hospital or clinic design project on track financially.

Implementing Mitigation Strategies

With potential risks identified, the next step is to devise strategies to either mitigate or manage these risks effectively. This involves:

a. Developing Risk Response Plans:

Tailoring strategies to address specific risks is essential. For instance, if there’s a significant risk of regulatory changes, having a legal expert on the team who stays updated on relevant healthcare laws can be invaluable.

Building a healthcare facility is complex! This blog post details essential project management tips to ensure your facility meets the highest standards. [Link to the blog post-Project Management in Healthcare Facility Design]

b. Regular Reviews and Updates:

Risk management is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. Continuous monitoring and updating of risk management plans are necessary to adapt to new challenges arising during the project’s lifecycle.

Enhancing Project Success

The ultimate goal of risk management in healthcare construction is to ensure the successful completion of projects that are functional, safe and delivered on time and within budget. Here’s how proactive risk management contributes to project success:

  • Minimising Delays and Cost Overruns: By anticipating and planning for potential issues, project teams can avoid many common pitfalls that lead to delays and additional costs.
  • Building a Resilient Project Plan: A project plan that includes flexibility for unforeseen challenges is more likely to succeed. This might mean having alternative designs adapted to different site conditions or regulatory requirements.


Understanding these elements of risk management in healthcare construction projects is crucial for anyone involved in commissioning, planning, or managing the construction of a healthcare facility. The complexities involved are considerable, but it’s possible to navigate these challenges successfully with a systematic approach to identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks.

This foundational knowledge ensures that industry leaders and executives can engage more effectively with healthcare architects, contractors, and other stakeholders, leading to better outcomes for their projects and the communities they serve.