Patients are the lifeblood of healthcare facilities. Their continued patronage is what keeps many facilities open and operating. In addition, their comfort and experience with a healthcare facility will influence whether they return to it. So, it follows that maintaining healthcare facilities is paramount so that patients have a positive experience and keep coming back.
This idea was a key finding in JLL’s recently published 2023 Patient Consumer Survey. According to the survey, facility quality was one of the top five factors that influenced decision-making for inpatient care, urgent care and emergency care.
“Patients are the consumers of the product of healthcare, and through the data that we have uncovered, we found the care of the facilities is paramount for folks,” says Alison Flynn Gaffney, president of the healthcare division at JLL. “So, wanting to have a safe location, enough space and all utilities operational is important.”
Two major parts of the patient’s experience are ease of navigation and accessibility. Gaffney says that a rule of thumb is to try to have the most seamless and frictionless experience for a patient coming into a healthcare facility. This also goes for employees and visitors. These can be things such as translation services, readable/accessible signage, phone apps for location services and traditional mapping services.
“It is extremely important that organizations invest in the total experience,” says Gaffney. “So, prior to coming through the front door, that parking experience, the aesthetics outside the building, an environment that looks and is safe, clean, and approachable – that is what patients are looking for as part of their overall experience today.”
Facilities management plays a key role in that total experience. They make sure that the systems supporting a healthcare facility stay online and function properly.
“Facilities management from an infrastructure standpoint is having a safe and well-run environment that works 24/7,” says Gaffney. “Then from the overall esthetics experience, it is making sure that from the paint on the wall, the color schemes, the artwork and the technology all work together. So, facilities management are kind of the behind-the-scenes unsung heroes of the overall environment of care and making sure that it is as safe and as pleasing as possible.”
Given that, an effective facilities management program is critical to the overall patient experience. That means making sure everything is working in proper order. This is a wide range of factors and amenities, including HVAC, lighting, medical equipment and security systems.
Gaffney adds that investing in the facilities management team helps them have a voice in important conversations regarding the facility itself. Doing so leads to a continued refinement and restructuring of the facility so that it is safe and navigable for all parties, including patients. Overall, it makes the healthcare experience less stressful.
“When you are a patient, you could be entering the facility at one of the most challenging times of your life,” says Gaffney. “The safety of the building that you are in, the working of the room and the technology and the equipment that supports your care is all linked to the facilities management team. So, having all of those factors work just takes away stress from individuals in the healthcare facility.”
Considering that facilities management helps create that stress-free environment, an effective program is imperative to the whole experience of healthcare facilities.
Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market.