Healthcare providers today are faced with growing competition, increased cost pressures, a growing number of elderly and chronically ill patients, and evolving quality and regulatory requirements.

Healthcare reform is driving a trend from volume-driven to value-based healthcare, with new ″network″ delivery models and smoother transitions between care settings, like hospitals, outpatient and home care.

Patients feel they are entitled to the best care and ask advice from their GP or even search the internet for patient reviews and quality metrics. In this context, JCI or NIAZ accreditation is gaining significance as a quality label.

In this competitive and cost-pressured environment, running a hospital is particularly complex. It requires increased visibility into parameters of quality and cost to enable data-driven decision making and process innovation.

Improving the quality/cost equation is not an easy task: hospitals are big consumers of utilities and have some of the highest fixed-cost infrastructures – many also have built-in inefficiencies.

What facilities managers can do

The role of facility managers in supporting the transitions is key. Innovative facility management can deliver significant value and there are challenges in multiple areas, such as resource, services, space, energy, and quality management. FMs who are mainly focused on service delivery should increase collaboration and align strategies with technical directors, ensuring that ′soft′ and ′hard′ FM dimensions are well integrated.

Here are some of the ways FMs can improve their organization’s performance:

  • Ensure up-to-date buildings that operate at their most efficient level
  • Keep track of critical assets and medical equipment in real time
  • Move from reactive to preventive maintenance, to mitigate risks and optimize lifelong cost of equipment
  • Move from fixed plans and schedules for service delivery to usage-based facility management and predictive cleaning
  • Support hospital accreditation (e.g. by meeting the requirement for permanent access to asset location with associated condition and maintenance history)
  • Project a quality image to attract patients and medical staff (the best doctors expect the best facilities)
  • Gain insight into space usage, match available space and space requirements, optimize m² usage, facilitate moves
  • Improve energy efficiency and reduce waste
  • Improve patient and visitor comfort (e.g. parking, wayfinding, climate control)
  • Monitor, guarantee and report on quality

Best practice processes and software support

To adapt to new requirements and become more efficient, existing processes need to be examined facility-wide. The need to align on best practices and to demonstrate value is felt even more strongly in the case of mergers and scaling up of healthcare facilities.

Integrated FM software can help drive standardization, and generate data to gain better insights into performance.

In healthcare organizations, FMs should keep their focus on best processes that are aligned with regulatory and accreditation requirements.

IoT technology and utilization data

New and affordable technologies for smart buildings enable FMs to improve operations, driven by the realities on the ground.

From wayfinding on campus to helping visitors find free parking space to driving usage-based cleaning by putting door clickers on bathrooms, many smart scenarios can be implemented in healthcare settings.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Connected sensors help improve patient comfort through control of temperature, humidity, and air quality (CO2 levels). They can also improve food safety, by monitoring cold storage and hygiene for food preparation. Sensors will send out early alerts, enabling you to detect and correct problems before things turn potentially dangerous. By ensuring that food stays at the right temperatures, healthcare organizations can not only improve food quality and reduce the risk of unwanted bacterial growth, they can also extend the shelf life of food and reduce the amount of waste.

Sensors can be deployed to monitor asset condition and allow timely interventions, before equipment fails. Indoor positioning supports FMs to keep tabs on the location of assets and people traffic.

Smart meters measure energy consumption at a granular level and can send alerts when anomalies occur. Over time, the data provides insight into energy consumption patterns. It helps raise awareness and make healthcare organizations more sustainable.

Sensors also allow to monitor perception through micro polling: FMs can for example install smiley boxes in restrooms so that staff and visitors are encouraged to give instant feedback on how satisfied they are with the area’s cleanliness and hygiene.

Sensor big data can further be integrated with traditional data from facilities management software and other data sources, offering great potential for reducing costs and improving the user experience.

The future of FM in healthcare?

Technological advancements are transforming the entire healthcare industry. Facility management should follow suit and benefit from new technology opportunities to become more performant.

At MCS Solutions, we combine domain expertise and consultancy with best-practice software and innovative technology solutions. If you would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact the team, or meet us at Health&Care at Flanders Expo in Ghent, 28-30 September 2016.