Following a year that saw contentious passage of comprehensive health care reform, a continually sluggish economy and rancorous congressional elections followed by threats of repealing—or at least holding up—the reform package, there was bound to be uncertainty in health care planning, design and construction.


Yet, despite the unknowns as 2011 gets under way, most industry forecasters are cautiously optimistic. Click here for more information.

McGraw-Hill Construction, for instance, expects hospital square footage to grow another 10 percent this year, with clinics and nursing homes rebounding 3 percent. A more circumspect Michael Kuntz, senior vice president in charge of Turner Construction Co.'s health care group in New York, predicts a slightly better 2011 for all health care categories, though not by much. "If you called it even, that would be a safe bet."

Kuntz contends, demographics and advancing technology often have provided buffers for an industry particularly vulnerable to political winds. "The demands of the aging population and the number of obsolete facilities are creating a lot of demand for new construction," he says. "If there's any market to be bullish on, it's health care."

But, no matter how reassuring these buffers, the winds of uncertainty are not expected to let up any time soon. "The biggest problem right now is the lack of any clarity out there," concludes Jay Bowman Sr., consultant and principal at FMI. "When nobody knows where it's going, wallets clamp down."