We have recently engaged in a very interesting debate around the implications of energy cost increase on financial performance of healthcare organisations. From a variety of studies and industry reports, we’ve consistently learnt that hospitals are the number one consumer of energy in buildings and account for more than half of the emissions from Australian government buildings. Add this to the fact that in Australia energy prices have increased 19% over the past three years, and you can understand why the healthcare sector in Australia is being challenged by the need to improve efficiency, productivity and effectiveness.
To improve efficiency, building services in healthcare facilities are managed through electronic systems. This covers monitoring, controlling or simply handling alerts and notification of operating status. Whether implemented in an integrated environment or stand alone, these systems provide the healthcare facility operator with valuable insight on building performance, status of critical infrastructure and the likelihood of impact on clinical service delivery.
Applications and systems attached to building services accumulate a significant amount of data which can be analysed and transformed into information, hence becoming an important decision making support tool in managing the infrastructure and service continuity in the healthcare facility.
Analysing and collaboratively managing patterns of infrastructure behaviour creates visibility for potential issues and strengthens engagement with all stakeholder groups in the facility. It turns a potentially daunting experience into a positive, proactive risk mitigation approach, allowing for wide recognition, shared commitment and support in required resolution. This information can also be used to continuously tune building systems to facilitate the seamless interaction between services, enabling their logical connectivity and response to uniquely complex and critical environment’s inputs.
Another significant benefit from a holistic approach to information management comes from generating automated reports required for assets operating patterns, regulatory compliance and healthcare quality system accreditation. The types and purpose of reporting varies, hence the need for inbuilt flexibility to extract data from a variety of sources. Reporting on required optimisation of plant operation involves technical parameters which are otherwise insufficient for functional systems performance reports. Also, consolidating healthcare facility information against Australian Council for Healthcare Standards (ACHS) accreditation and reporting criteria allows an auditable path to compliance as well as a tangible proof for quality of service delivery.
The common denominator for visualising and analysing potential solutions to make better informed decisions is the building services information management. Analysing healthcare energy data can provide tangible benefits and enables transparency of available energy conservation measures.
Balancing the risk of downtime from infrastructure failures, raising cost of maintenance for ageing plant and equipment, resources and budget constraints with an increased demand for performance and efficiency, the healthcare facility management profession is facing also the challenges from service criticality, considering that asset failure can potentially have direct or indirect impact on patient care outcomes.
This level of complexity, and the number of variables involved in determining the right process and reaction under certain conditions, can no longer be contained without the aid of technology.