Energy Management/Energy Efficiency

4 simple steps to creating a lean, mean hospital infrastructure machine

So we’ve learned that an intelligent hospital infrastructure impacts patient care, hospital efficiency, staff productivity, and the bottom line. But how do you sell the idea to your hospital’s C-level decision makers at a time when budgets are shrinking and scheduled project upgrades are being cut left and right?

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Step 1: Start with the basics

In order to develop an effective, low-cost platform for an intelligent technology infrastructure, hospitals are leveraging both existing and emerging technologies. For existing hospitals, you may be able to create a more intelligent infrastructure just by changing the way your systems communicate. Take a look at how they communicate, how often, what information is being shared, and what information is missing that could streamline processes, reduce overall operating costs, and ultimately benefit patients.

Step 2: Get lean

In addition, many healthcare organisations employ a concept known as “lean thinking” to improve efficiency. Developed by Toyota, “lean” translates to getting the right things to the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities, while minimising waste and being flexible and open to change. For example, combining the lean approach with building information modelling for a new construction project can reduce costs, shorten schedules, and enhance quality.

Step 3: Prepare for battle

An intelligent technology infrastructure will improve patient care and the bottom line, but securing funding for it is another story. Your CFO’s decision will always come down to return on investment (ROI).

For small-scale investments, it’s best to document the financial ROI before approaching him or her. Think about all the tangible and intangible benefits that can result in money back to the hospital and improved reputation. Does the project reduce the need for man hours? Does it make more effective use of nurses’ time? Could it potentially save the hospital millions in unforeseen costs due to power outages or hospital-associated infections? Will it improve patient satisfaction and attract more patients in the future? Does it show goodwill or environmental responsibility?

Large-scale energy efficiency projects, such as the implementation of a comprehensive energy management strategy, could include resource and sustainability planning, building upgrades, extensive metering and monitoring of hospital energy use, and creation of an intelligent infrastructure. Your CFO may initially shy away from a project of this nature, because it inherently requires an aggressive investment and comes with a longer payback period. But it can also offer up to 30% energy savings, which could add up to more than a million dollars a year. In these instances, an energy savings performance contract provides a means to an end when no upfront capital is available. Using third-party financing, a portion of the energy savings pays for the project.

Step 4: Enlist an expert

A lack of knowledge or expertise within the healthcare organisation may require enlisting an outside expert to research, acquire, and support understanding of new technologies. This expertise is vital to successful design, implementation, staff training, and ongoing assessment. Look for a company that has expertise across all the various systems included in your design, such as building automation, power distribution and reliability, IT, energy management, and sustainability planning, as well as design and life-cycle services. For case studies, take look at the  South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, which  adopted an intelligent infrastructure design, utilizing EcoStruxure™ architecture, for their newly opened facility.

Learn more ways in this white paper to improve the patient journey and hospital financial health with an intelligent infrastructure. You might also want to read this recent article on energy performance contracts.

What additional suggestions do you have for facility managers looking to secure funding for intelligent infrastructure projects? What works and what doesn’t?

Share your responses in the “Leave a Reply” box below or tweet us @SE_Healthcare.

 


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