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How technology is changing hospital facility management as we know it

By Nadejda Alkhaldi, Innovation Analyst
Published on

The American Hospital Association reports that hospital expenses increased by 17.5% from 2019 to 2022, while Medicare reimbursements remained far behind, growing by a mere 7.5%.

Given this unfortunate situation, healthcare organizations need to take it upon themselves to reduce costs without overloading their medical and administrative staff, who already have too much on their plate. One way to cut down expenses is by deploying a hospital facility management solution that will improve both internal operations and patient care.

Hospital software development companies offer different types of ready-made and custom tools that can address your unique needs. And healthcare organizations seem to love it. The global healthcare facility management market is forecast to reach $8.3 billion by 2026 after it was valued at $6 billion in 2021.

This article explains what hospital facility management is, presents seven exciting ways in which technology can improve your operations, and gives a brief guide on how to proceed with deployment.

What tasks comprise hospital facility management in 2023?

Health facilities management aims to sustain an environment that helps staff members perform at their best while improving patient experience. The concept comprises a wide range of tasks, including managing equipment, taking care of employees, making sure the facilities are clean and safe, and overseeing the budget. In many healthcare organizations, facility managers are also responsible for public relations, marketing, and compliance.

Basically, this discipline is responsible for all non-clinical activities performed at healthcare organizations.

Here is a list of the key tasks associated with hospital facility management:

  • Maintaining patient comfort and privacy

  • Simplifying navigation for staff and visitors

  • Coordinating the use of equipment

  • Taking over equipment purchase, installation, and maintenance

  • Building renovations, which includes selecting contractors and monitoring their work

  • Taking measures to enforce hospital’s safety and security, including periodically assessing the building for fire hazards and such

  • Placing protocols for emergency situations, like hazardous waste release and spreading infections

  • Ensuring compliance with the governmental and local regulations, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policies

  • Handling finances, including putting forward the operations budget and adhering to it, prioritizing investments, negotiating service agreements

  • Marketing the hospital and its services

  • Crafting strategies to improve patient and employee experience

Let us investigate how technology helps enhance or fully automate these processes, lessening the burden of administrative work for healthcare organizations.

7 ways technology is transforming healthcare facility management as we know it

Here are seven major examples of how hospital facility management technology can support your healthcare organization.

  1. Transforming asset management

  2. Enabling predictive maintenance

  3. Optimizing energy consumption

  4. Streamlining process automation

  5. Facilitating healthcare data analytics

  6. Improving patient care

  7. Ensuring compliance with standards and policies

Transforming asset management

Technology can help hospital facility managers handle both staff and equipment effectively. Below you will find several examples of hospitals that leveraged cutting-edge technologies, such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, to streamline their operations.

Equipment management

The survey reported that nurses tend to waste around 40 hours per month looking for lost equipment; in 16% of the cases, they fail to locate it. Hospitals can embed different types of trackers, such as GPS and Bluetooth tags, into defibrillators, medical carts, and any other piece of equipment to retrieve information on the equipment’s whereabouts from healthcare IT systems in real time.

As an added benefit, this practice will also reduce theft. Research shows that 10%-20% of medical assets are stolen during their lifecycle, which averages a loss of $3000 per item.

There are several off-the-shelf facility management solutions for hospitals that can help you with equipment tracking. One example is Texas-based Asset Panda. The company built a medical inventory and device monitoring solution that tracks equipment’s location, displays its condition and where it was deployed, and schedules maintenance when needed. Hospital managers can add as many users as they want while enabling role-based access to the assets.

Staff management

Healthcare facility management technology powered by AI solutions for hospitals can help evenly distribute workload among medical staff, taking into consideration their preferences and capabilities.

A research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology built an AI robot that could assign care givers to different medical procedures and patients. This solution was tested at the labor-and-delivery ward. The staff accepted 90% of the tool’s recommendations and testified to its success in creating a more even workload than they could accomplish with a manual assignment.

You can find more examples in how AI benefits the healthcare sector article on our blog.

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Enabling predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance is about relying on the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data analysis techniques to detect any anomalies in a piece of equipment before it starts malfunctioning. At the first signs of defects, the device’s manager can conduct maintenance at a convenient time to prevent a breakdown.

Hospital IoT development companies offer sensors and the corresponding software to gather data on power consumption, temperature, and more. This data is analyzed to detect any anomalies, like excessive vibration, which might be caused by machine overload, but can also be an early indicator of a breakage. This approach to maintenance prevents unexpected device failures, which can result in poor patient outcomes, litigation, and reputational damage.

A team of researchers in the United Arab Emirates developed an approach to IoT-powered predictive maintenance and tested it on a Vitros-Immunoassay analyzer at a local hospital. The primary cause of this device’s breakage is metering arm belt slippage when the belt is worn out. It’s possible to catch the belt’s early deterioration signs by analyzing vibration signals. So, the researchers collected vibration data and analyzed it with ML algorithms to detect any evidence of malfunctioning. This experiment resulted in 25% savings in the device’s maintenance costs.

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Optimizing energy consumption

Unlike residential and commercial buildings, hospitals operate 24/7, consuming around 2.5 times more electricity than other establishments of the same size.

Hospital facility management technology, such as AI, data analytics, and cloud computing, can help significantly reduce the electricity bill in the following ways:

  • Data analytics can identify areas of wasted energy and recommend optimizations.

  • Machine learning algorithms can be trained to predict energy demands based on historical usage data, building information, climate, and other relevant parameters. This allows hospitals to prepare in the case of spiking demand and maybe cut down on energy use in other areas for that time period.

  • Some technologies can reduce energy consumption just by deploying them. For instance, studies show that organizations can achieve almost 80% of energy saving by moving their workload to the cloud instead of keeping it on premises.

One example of applying hospital facilities management technology to energy consumption comes from the ENGIE x NTU Innovation Challenge in Singapore, where participants gained access to a local hospital to come up with an energy optimization solution over the course of eight months.

The winners deployed multi-variant sensors to capture data on room occupancy parameters, such as carbon dioxide and humidity, analyze these using machine learning algorithms, and control air conditioning accordingly. The team succeeded in reducing energy consumption by 20%.

Streamlining process automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) has many benefits in healthcare. Here are some of the key applications of this technology in the context of hospital facility management:

  • Streamlining billing and payments. RPA bots can assist staff in medical coding and preparing insurance claims.

  • Facilitating data sharing. RPA tools can monitor that data sharing across different healthcare facilities adheres to data privacy protocols and has strict access rights.

  • Managing inventory. This technology can monitor the location and usage of different medical tools. It’s even applied in organ tracking to facilitate organ transplantation procedures.

  • Assisting in recruitment and onboarding. Bots can help spot the right candidates and guide them through the onboarding processes, taking the load off human resources.

For example, US-based ApprioHelth deployed UiPath’s RPA solution enhanced with AI and computer vision to facilitate insurance claims handling. This tool automates data capturing and entering into the corresponding application form fields. It can even extract text from images. This solution yielded a 96% reduction in insurance claims backlog.

Facilitating healthcare data analytics

Big data has many applications in the medical field. This includes assisting in cancer treatment, mitigating hospitalization risks, helping patients with mental issues, and more.

In the context of hospital facility management, big data analytics tools can assist with strategic planning as they enable managers to understand the needs and motivations of medical staff. Analytics can also predict when a senior staff member needs to be present to consult junior colleagues, and can help devise training and development plans, as it monitors employees’ performance.

Data analytics tools can also help better allocate hospital facilities. For instance, Texas Children’s Hospital relied on an analytics-powered space visualization solution to identify available practice rooms and assign them to appointments. The tool processes appointment data to estimate room demands and finds empty rooms that meet these conditions. Thanks to this solution, the hospital could schedule 550 additional appointments, which added $86,000 to its revenue in merely six months.

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Improving patient experience

Hospital facility management technology can also enhance patient care while taking the load off the medical staff and the facilities. Here is what it can do:

  • Predicting how many patients to expect at a hospital on any given day, which helps with staffing and spares patients the wait

  • Easing the administrative burden around doctor visits, as technology supports patients in appointment scheduling, sends reminders, and helps visitors navigate around the facilities instead of having to call someone asking for directions

  • Post-discharge care, such as sending automated reminders of medication intake, distributing wellbeing surveys, and analyzing the results without overwhelming doctors and nurses

  • Enabling virtual care and remote patient monitoring, as patients don’t need to be physically present at the hospital to receive consultations. Patients are happy to stay at home and the hospital isn’t overloaded.

Even though telehealth solutions are not typically classified under the hospital facility management technology, one can argue that they improve patient care without putting an extra load on the clinic’s facilities. And they enable doctors to consult patients, who they otherwise wouldn’t reach. For instance, Aravind Eye Hospital located in India opened five IT-powered centers in rural areas to conduct telemedicine sessions with people who couldn’t reach the hospital. Thanks to this setup, over 90% of the patients received adequate care without commuting.

Ensuring compliance with standards and policies

Compliance is extremely important in the healthcare sector, and it’s one of a hospital facility manager’s responsibilities. Depending on your country of operations, there are different compliance regulations to abide by. In the US, the medical sector is governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). And in addition to the country-wide regulations, each hospital has its set of policies that the medical facility management solutions can also help enforce.

Technology, such as AI and its subtypes, can increase compliance in the following ways:

  • Monitoring for updates in healthcare standards and regulations. Compliance laws tend to change rapidly, and hospitals can’t afford to stay behind. AI-powered solutions can monitor the regulations and report on any changes.

  • Controlling data access. Data privacy is a huge concern for medical institutions, and artificial intelligence tools can ensure that only authorized parties gain access to patient information.

  • Preventing data breaches. AI can continuously monitor hospital software looking for security vulnerabilities. It can also monitor passwords and guide users to select options that are hard to hack.

  • Streamline employee credentialing. There are ready-made credentialing management software solutions that can keep track of and verify staff qualifications, including their university degrees and any training they received afterwards.

  • Visitor tracking. This type of solution can help trace the number of visitors at any given time to remain within the limits imposed by the hospital and the government.

  • Incident management. Some healthcare software solutions can capture incidents/near incidents, analyze them to determine the cause, and monitor improvement.

One example of incident management and reporting solution comes from symplr. Headquartered in Houston, symplr uses technology to improve healthcare operations. The company offers a solution that enables hospitals to evaluate and mitigate operational and financial risks that would accompany failure to comply with changing regulations. The company claims that with the help of their software, managers will spend 45% less time monitoring compliance issues.

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How to approach a hospital facility management overhaul

The following steps can guide you through medical facility management technology deployment:

  • Determine which organizational needs you want to address. Are you considering monitoring equipment, improving energy efficiency, enhancing compliance, or enabling predictive maintenance? Write down what you want to cover, prioritize this list, and choose the best suited technology accordingly.

  • In addition to the use cases, consider other factors, such as scalability, ease-of-use, how well it will integrate with your existing system, and so on.

  • Develop the overall strategy. Identify key stakeholders and determine how to engage them, allocate people and budget, determine how you will measure success.

  • Conduct a pilot test. Experimenting with the technology will reveal:

    • How do different systems work together, especially if it involves legacy equipment?

    • Can your infrastructure handle the new load?

    • Does the new solution incorporate all the corresponding business flows?

    • Is every user comfortable with the new tools?

  • Offer training and education. Hospital facility managers might not be familiar with this type of tools, and it’s better to offer formal training instead of expecting employees to learn independently. If they find the new tools hard to use, they will not be eager to adopt them.

  • Come up with a data management strategy. Facility management solutions for hospitals tend to generate vast amounts of data, especially when it involves IoT. You will need a system that can store and process all this information.

Also, depending on the technology you choose, you might encounter different challenges associated with its implementation. Our blog details AI implementation challenges, RPA-related challenges, and issues associated with big data to help you sail through the transformation.

Still hesitating to proceed?

As the technology becomes more powerful, it enables facility managers in hospitals to accomplish more with fewer resources and in shorter time. There is no more running around searching for equipment, wasting hours on trivial manual tasks, and getting fined for missing the latest regulations updates. If this is still happening at your practice, it might feel acceptable at the moment, but in the near future it will become difficult to compete with more tech-savvy facilities.

You don’t have to take any radical steps now. You can start with one or two use cases, such as equipment tracking, and scale from there. If you want to work with a basic ready-made hospital facility management solution, we can help you integrate it into your workflows and customize it if needed. And if you are interested in deploying something more comprehensive, we can set you up with IoT sensors, build and train AI algorithms, develop data analytics and reporting tools that will give you a 360-degree view of your operations, and more.

And, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

What tasks comprise hospital facility management in 2023?7 ways technology is transforming healthcare facility management as we know itTransforming asset managementEnabling predictive maintenanceOptimizing energy consumptionStreamlining process automationFacilitating healthcare data analyticsImproving patient experienceEnsuring compliance with standards and policiesHow to approach a hospital facility management overhaulStill hesitating to proceed?
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Considering streamlining your operations with hospital facility management tech? Get in touch! We will assist you in choosing the right technology, implementing the software, and integrating the final solution into your system.