Maintenance programs, good or bad, have a ripple effect on all other parts of an organization. But nowhere are those effects so clear in their impact on people as in hospital maintenance and operations. In a regimented healthcare environment such as a hospital or a clinic, the maintenance of the care environment has a direct impact on the well-being of patients and their health outcomes.
Facilities managers for hospitals or clinics face several concerns on the way to their goal of providing a clean, safe environment for healthcare professionals and their patients. Often, they are responsible for maintaining expensive medical devices, maintaining inventory for various departments and handling the day-to-day operations of the facility itself. Without a robust system for tracking the data related to these critical interests, managers will find it hard to make evidence-based decisions that lead to better outcomes for all of the hospital’s interests.
Hospital Asset Management
Hospital departments are often responsible for equipment assets that can cost millions, and proper asset management can help them plan maintenance and replacement around the lifecycle of each device. By tracking medical devices, operating room equipment and even elevators and emergency generators with asset management software that records maintenance schedules and normal operational costs, managers can have a better idea of the condition of each individual piece of equipment, where it’s being used and what its likely lifecycle is.
With this type of minute information about the hospital’s physical assets, managers can also monitor medical supplies for individual patients, departments and the hospital as a whole to gain leverage on inventory management and planning. With established records of inventory fluctuations and known life-spans for existing hospital equipment, managers can effectively plan budgets with a level of fine detail that isn’t possible without comprehensive record-keeping. That type of insight and planning just isn’t possible without a detailed tracking system.
Reducing Costs through Preventative Maintenance
Once you have a detailed system tracking the work-load and operations, you can go about extending the lifecycle of critical technology and the facilities themselves through an effective preventative maintenance program that establishes a timeline of relevant maintenance tasks for individual assets. The ability to schedule work ahead of time is critical in order to fit regular maintenance into an already busy calendar for hospitals that serve a large number of patients on a tight schedule, especially for critical equipment that is in high demand.
This kind of forward-thinking can prevent hospitals and clinics from ever realizing the costs of something like mold and bacteria growth, plumbing failures, improper wastewater management and other out-of-sight-and-mind maintenance issues. Maintaining records to prove proper maintenance of all equipment can protect clinics and hospitals from liability related to equipment and regulatory compliance as well.
Making Data-Driving Decisions
The data gathered through comprehensive facilities management and tracking lays the foundation for future decisions on all aspects of hospital maintenance. For instance, hospital staff may have a goal for reducing rates of infection for post-op patients, hoping that improved sanitation procedures for patient rooms and increased rigor in hand-washing among staff will reduce infections. Over time, managers can track infection rates against the record of newly implemented sanitation plans and hygiene training to see what impact those operational changes had on actual patient outcomes.
These types of patient care initiatives can only happen with a stable care environment where structural differences in operations and best practices can be implemented and their effects measured. That type of analysis is so much easier to do when you have a body of historical data to use as a baseline. Data gives you the lay of the land so that you can decide where to focus your efforts, and that’s a much more comfortable place to manage from, especially when you’re responsible for the health and well-being of all those patients who receive care in your facility.
Author bio: Derek Smith writes about preventative maintenance, asset management and operational efficiency for ManagerPlus.com. If he isn’t telling companies how to decrease costs and centralize their decision-making systems, he’s strapping skis to his car and heading up the canyon.