Healthcare Facility Improvements with the Patient in Mind

10/19/2018 | By Fadi Kiameh

A hospital’s top priority is the wellbeing of its patients. It is crucial the environment is conducive to healing and that patients feel comfortable and safe during the duration of their stay. The smallest concern in a healthcare setting can make all the difference – anything from lighting quality to air conditioning controls in patient rooms to operating suites.

While the operational side of a hospital is important to the overall patient experience, decisions on safety, efficiency and sustainability should be made with the patient in mind for the best possible outcomes for the patients, staff and visitors.

St. Jude's Children's Hospital
(Photo credit: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital)

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has been successful with a patient-focused approach to facility upgrades implementing a Facility Performance Indexing (FPI) system to help manage facilities more efficiently and cost-effectively without compromising patient satisfaction.

The 66-acre campus costs $2.2 million per day to operate, which is expensive to maintain long-term without making sacrifices elsewhere. The FPI system allows them to cost-effectively improve fault detection and diagnostics associated with major HVAC systems such as chillers, boilers, air handling units, thermostats, and other similar equipment.

[Related: Stop Wasting Money on Deferred Maintenance]

St. Jude’s has increased system reliability, reduced unnecessary maintenance, sustained asset life, and improved lifecycle costs – all of which help maintain the comfortable environment that their patients and staff require and deserve.

Address Deferred Maintenance

While new solutions are important when it comes to keeping patients satisfied, comfortable and safe, maintaining the continued health of existing systems can also impact the well-being of a healthcare facility and in turn, its patients. Maintenance, repairs when needed, and, in final stages, replacement of equipment simply should not be deferred.

For example, when a chiller goes down, a response is needed immediately as it has a direct impact on the patient’s comfort level, healing capability and safety while exposed to various pathogens. Addressing deferred maintenance and making sure you’re able to respond quickly to failed equipment– sometimes even before equipment fails – makes all the difference in the quality of the healthcare environment.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare

Putting patients first often means thinking ahead and planning now for future needs.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare knew the longevity of their facility was reliant on its sustainability. With the help of technology contracting – the process of working with a partner who acts as a single point of responsibility throughout design and integration – they successfully defined a sustainability strategy that included the construction of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, which is now one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals.

They also identified the most appropriate technologies and the best way to leverage them, such as fully integrated operating rooms that provide advanced options for surgeons and staff, and added a converged IT network that’s future-ready and can adapt to the hospital’s changing technology for years to come.

Options for Patient First Mentality

The goal of putting the patient first can require funds that many hospitals just don’t have.

Traditional debt and funding options, such as a public issuance of revenue bonds, can help finance projects in healthcare facilities if needed, but most healthcare leaders are finding that new, collaborative efforts are more efficient in funding for the new arena which healthcare is competing: patient care and experience.

There are a variety of options that healthcare facility professionals can choose from, including performance contracts, contingent payment and public-private partnerships, all of which require a level of collaboration.

Working with a partner or expert allows healthcare leaders to focus on their primary mission of excellent patient care and to help with additional responsibilities such as stakeholder alignment, audits and assessments of equipment, planning and prioritizing improvements.

For example, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation was able to upgrade lighting systems, conserve water, upgrade and replace HVAC systems, and update control systems for maximum efficiency through the help of a performance contract. These improvements to their older infrastructure helped the organization address major deferred maintenance without having to raise healthcare costs.

Every small detail in a healthcare facility impacts the patient. Keeping the staff more efficient means they are better prepared to treat patients. Ensuring building systems are continuously up and running to their fullest potential means patients can heal in a comfortable environment.

So, when thinking about ways to improve a facility, facility managers first need to think about its potential impact on the patients.

Fadi Kiameh is an account manager at Johnson Controls.


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