Healthcare Maintenance in the Digital Age

Digital versions of codes and standards offer technicians enhanced access to codes and standards for fire and life safety in healthcare.

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

Healthcare technology is changing. Healthcare facilities are changing. Even healthcare staffing is changing.  

So, facility managers looking to effectively support the mission of their organizations can consider using the latest digital tools that are designed to ensure buildings operate safely and effectively, given the tremendous evolution taking place throughout healthcare facilities, 

“Couple (the changes) with the fact that it's a highly regulated industry, and digital tools are built for this,” says Jonathan Hart, technical lead with NFPA, which offers digital versions of fire and life safety standards that govern a range of critical systems and components in healthcare facilities. “They're built for people to be able to catch up on what the latest requirements are for new technologies if the regulations change and evolve quickly.” 

In fact, digital tools might be catching on in a growing number of facilities in general, including healthcare. Eight in 10 respondents to an NFPA survey in 2023 reported using digital tools on the job every day, with 43 percent using one to two tools daily, 26 percent using three to five, and 11 percent using more than five tools.  

"We're talking about digital codes and standards and access to those, as well as additional information on how people apply those to do their jobs and all the additional features that can come along with that, as well as online learning, the ability to get more deeper focus training sessions online digitally at the user’s time and place of preference,” Hart says. 

The digital tools represent new-generation versions of resources that managers and technicians already use on the job. 

“They're already referencing codes and standards, especially in healthcare work, which is so regulated through Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, through the Joint Commission, the other accrediting organizations even down to the technician level,” Hart says. “They start off with the need to understand codes and standards they need to reference.” 

Related: 3 Ways Technology Can Benefit Facilities Teams

The resources are designed to give technicians better access to codes and standards than they have had in the past. 

“Before, it was grabbing a code book that would get passed around,” Hart says. “It would sit on the manager's desk. Now it can be referenced quickly. It can have notes specific to the individual, specific to the healthcare facility that they're in.” 

The digital tools also address a challenge that healthcare facility managers have battled for years — hiring and retaining younger workers. 

“We're finding that a lot of people entering the field are looking for digital innovative ways to consume their information and to get their training, to have it implemented in how they work day to day,” he says. “The generation is looking for that, so it can appeal to them at first, draw them into to what an organization is doing.” 

Beyond hiring and retention, digital tools also can enable technicians to build a successful career in facilities. 

 "Once you get them recruited and on board, this can help outline a path forward for them throughout their career as a way to continue to learn, continue to understand, absorb some of the knowledge and the expertise (from older workers) that they have at hand before that person enters retirement and some of that generational knowledge gets lost,” Hart says. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 

March 25, 2024

Topic Area: Maintenance and Operations

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