Blog / Focus: Renovation

Getting started: Approaching and funding smart improvements in healthcare facilities

By Fawn Staerkel / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
July 7, 2017

Canada’s Royal University Hospital (RUH) invested CAD $13.6 million in critical facility upgrades that will save the acute-care facility CAD $1.4 million per year. The long list of infrastructure upgrades includes improvements to lighting, water use, the building envelope, steam pipes and traps, hot water pumps and the ventilation system. In addition, the hospital connected occupancy sensors and upgraded digital controls to better control the hospital environment.

Elsewhere, healthcare systems are investing in new technologies that improve clinical efficiencies and patient experience. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tracks the patient service process, from check-in to the delivery of service, monitors staff for productivity gains and simplifies searches for equipment and other assets. In patient rooms, smart devices allow patients to control temperatures, position beds, open and close blinds, describe pain levels, order food and call staff.

Deploying these technologies and upgrading infrastructure begins with planning—identifying goals, needs and desired outcomes before construction begins to ensure maximum cost savings and effective technology integrations. With direct attributable impacts to staff efficiency, patient experience and energy savings, these projects are achieving great success meeting the financial criteria within facilities to secure approvals and make an impact.

In situations where traditional capital or operational budgets aren’t available, new funding options put upgrades within financial reach. Contingent payment programs and energy performance contracts (EPC) provide funding sources guaranteeing facility upgrades will deliver specified savings over a fixed period of time. Another option, public private partnerships (P3), transfers the risk of design, construction, finance and operations to the private sector in exchange for guaranteed fixed monthly payment terms and service levels over a designated time period.

RUH took advantage of an EPC with Johnson Controls to borrow funds that will be paid back with energy, water and operational savings. After all the initial improvements were installed, Johnson Controls worked to optimize and attain additional savings by looking at equipment schedules, fresh air intake, equipment sequencing and other measures. The result? RUH is saving more money than was anticipated, making payments on the loan and putting extra funds back into hospital operations.

The success of RUH and other healthcare facilities looking to improve patient experiences depends on careful planning and innovative funding mechanisms. By creating smart, connected facilities, forward-looking healthcare systems enable clinicians to effectively and efficiently support and empower patients for increased satisfaction and improved outcomes.  

Fawn Staerkel is the Director of Healthcare North America for Johnson Controls.

 

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