Modular medical facilities provider EIR Healthcare announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Pennsylvania-based IMC Construction to provide its MedModular product for use on select IMC healthcare projects.
MedModular is EIR's "smart hospital room in a box" offering that is prefabricated offsite and delivered ready to install. The rooms, which EIR says can reduce the fixed costs normally associated with hospital construction, can be customized according to the specified medical specialty and to the owner's needs.
This will be the first foray for IMC into modular healthcare construction after having completed more than $700 million of projects in the sector. The modular healthcare projects that IMC plans to pursue include hospitals, surgical centers, medical office buildings, labs, urgent care centers and standalone emergency departments.
In addition to cost savings, the use of modular construction for healthcare projects, said EIR CEO Grant Geiger, has gained traction for a few other reasons. First, many hospitals, like hotels, have repetitive elements — i.e. patient rooms — into which the modular manufacturing process can be easily incorporated.
Marriott has an aggressive modular construction program and has completed more than 30 projects using that method. The hotel giant also announced earlier this year that it is building a $65 million modular hotel in New York City and has said it will be the tallest modular hotel in the world.
But not only hospitals and hotels are using modular construction. Many industrial projects use the method as well. ExxonMobil-SABIC, for example, has incorporated modular construction into the construction of its $10 billion ethane cracker and plastics plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, which has cut its workforce needs from 11,000 skilled workers to 6,000. According to a report earlier this year from McKinsey & Co., modular construction can deliver projects 20% to 50% faster than more traditional methods, which is likely a big selling point for owners and developers that want to start generating revenue with their projects as soon as possible.
And this growing acceptance puts companies like EIR in the enviable position of not having to knock on as many doors as they have in the past. "At this point, [interest] is coming from the industry,” Geiger said. "I think that is evidenced by the type of agreement we're putting in place with IMC. General contractors are ... recognizing that [modular] is not just a passing trend or a fad but that it's actually a solution [to] a lot of problems."
Perhaps most valuable in the realm of healthcare construction, Geiger said, is that EIR is able to install, integrate and test room technology like sensors and clinical monitors, before the rooms leave the production facility. "The technology has to work before it leaves our assembly area," he said. This eliminates the last-minute wiring and testing of potentially lifesaving components that happens so often on project sites when there is a tight schedule and crews are trying to meet their deadlines.
The traditional fit-out cost — on a large scale — for a lot of those technologies is prohibitive as well, he said, and general contractors and owners of healthcare systems have approached EIR for help with alternatives.
As for its partnership with IMC, there are no specific project plans Geiger can reveal at this point, but he said EIR is in discussions with the contractor about next steps.
"Obviously, we're really excited about working with IMC and their established presence in the market," Geiger said, "and we're looking forward to continuing to build these types of relationships in the future with GC's across the country."