Is Your Healthcare Facility Equipped for the Digital Age?

Jan. 9, 2018

Don't miss out on reducing energy costs and improving patient satisfaction.

Despite the progress of buildings implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced power systems into the workplace, a recent study finds that healthcare facilities are falling behind, as 36% of respondents indicated that their power systems are more than five years old. As a result, healthcare facilities are missing out on key opportunities to cut energy use and costs, avoid outages and improve patient satisfaction.

The study, commissioned by Schneider Electric, surveyed 150 healthcare executives representing hospitals, health systems, doctors’ offices and clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Hospital settings are especially vulnerable to being out of date, as 51% of respondents from hospitals reported their power systems are at least five years old.

Failing to keep up with emerging technologies sets healthcare facilities behind, as power systems need to work with the utmost consistency. The facilities with older power systems report greater concern with power availability and reliability, as well as energy efficiency than more modern facilities with the latest power systems.

“A five-year-old power infrastructure is not necessarily a safety problem, but we’re living in the digital age where safety and efficiency are table stakes,” says Mohamed Shishani, EcoStruxure Power Implementation Leader at Schneider Electric. “What’s increasingly important in healthcare facilities is the ability to accommodate IoT devices and data-intensive medical equipment transforming patient care. These older systems were implemented before the benefits and power requirements of advanced, connected technologies were apparent. Improving patient satisfaction, operational efficiency and financial health calls for modernization of these systems.”

Budgets and the Knowledge Gap

Despite the lack of newly integrated power systems, most respondents (51%) plan on putting greater investment into power distribution and management over the next year. Respondents cited patient satisfaction, power availability and reliability, improved safety, and financial performance as the top reasons for improving power systems. Moreover, IoT has struggled to enter these facilities, as only 18% of respondents have integrated IoT-connected technologies for power management.

The roadblock for these kinds of improvements are obvious: nearly half (47%) of survey respondents cited budgetary constraints as a major obstacle for widespread implementation of these new technologies. After budget limitations, 15% of respondents indicated a lack of knowledge and resources have kept them from improving their power systems.

Ultimately, many healthcare facilities are in dire need to update. The survey found one in four respondents are not satisfied with their current power distribution solution, citing concerns including energy use and cost reduction (23%), safety (22%) and power availability and reliability (20%). So how do you address these needs while overcoming these obstacles?

First, try to identify the return on investment that improved power and IoT technology systems can have on your facility. While the costs to upgrade these systems can be high, detailing the positive impacts might loosen your organization’s purse strings for improvements.

You can also try incrementally improving your IoT engagement. Try adding smart devices like sensors, digital power meters or power quality meters to existing equipment for more efficient and reliable power. Not only are you gradually adopting technologies that will improve efficiency and patient satisfaction, you will likely also ease the process of a more comprehensive upgrade later.

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