Blog / Focus: Patient Experience

Leveraging data to align healthcare facilities professionals and business officers

By Shaun Rodgers / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
December 5, 2018

With the size, complexity and nature of care at a healthcare organization, it can be difficult to streamline communication and get all cross-functional areas on the same page. And, with aging infrastructure, an increased focus on cost reduction and lack of data standardization, it’s no wonder there is often a communication gap between the C-suite and the facilities team. Decisions are made without all the necessary facts, goals are set separately, and executives often struggle to see the role this department can play in their mission.

Simple metrics can be the link that connects facilities professionals to the executive team. From communicating about upcoming resource needs or cost savings recommendations to reporting on KPIs like maintenance cost per square foot and response time, it may be more attainable than you think to align these two groups with measurable data points.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement uses the Triple Aim framework, which describes an approach for optimizing healthcare performance and outcomes. The three dimensions of the framework are improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.1 By demonstrating the impact their department has on each area of the Triple Aim, and reporting correlating metrics, the facilities team is more likely to align with executives.

An influence on patient experience

The patient is at the core of everything you do. So, what all goes into promoting a quality patient experience at your facilities? It’s not just about having well-trained clinical staff. So much of it depends on the work the facilities team manages, from safety to infection control to lighting and air quality.

Does your executive team know the impact operations has on patient experience?

It’s the facilities team’s responsibility to communicate the important part they play in keeping patients happy, healing and returning to your organization for care. This holds a great financial impact as well, especially since there are two questions directly related to the physical environment of the hospital in the HCAHPS survey.

Some patient-related key performance indicators (KPIs) that facilities should be sharing with the C-suite include:

* Response time to work requests

* Delays of work

* Safety event documentation

* Utility failures/disruption avoidance

Whether it’s statistics on how your team is contributing to higher patient satisfaction scores, or areas where you excel in influencing the patient experience, the insight is valuable to executive decision makers who determine how to improve care and outcomes.

Healthy operations for healthy patients

Not only do facilities professionals keep your healthcare organization running smoothly, they are also critical to preventing issues and mitigating risk. And we all know that mitigating risk is a top priority for executives.

From fire and life safety to infection control and compliance, facilities and housekeeping hold the key to preventing outbreaks and creating a healthy and compliant environment.

If you asked the executive team what operations does to promote health, what would they say?

Provide them with the data and reassurance they need to know this department is implementing processes to be more compliant, prepared for safety issues and working toward a healthier facility.

KPIs that can help facilities align goals around patient health may include:

• Number of Environment of Care and Life Safety deficiencies

• Number resolved and actions taken

• Number of reported safety incidents

• Number of reported security incidents

• Infection control measures implemented and outbreaks reported

When there is open communication, supported by hard data, both the leadership and operations teams can feel well equipped to align goals on moving forward with important health initiatives.

Budgeting and saving, realistically


Budgeting should never be done without all the data, and while most of us know that, it’s often just the product of a lack of time and knowledge that leads to budgets set without the insight of those dealing with the final numbers.

How do you create the best, most attainable budget and cost reduction plan between facilities and the executive team?

Communication again is key, as well as sharing cost-saving goals or opportunities. Reducing costs may even be a mandate for your organization, so it’s important to be aligned on how that can be achieved within operations.

When the executive team shares their cost reduction goals with facilities and vice-versa, they can be better aligned and maximize saving efforts. From better budgeting to capital planning, specific reports and numbers on operational costs and areas where you can easily save will offer much value.

Compiled data in the following areas can help:

• Average cost per work order

• Asset/equipment lifecycle and replacement cost

• Unexpected breakdown cost

• Operational cost year over year

In addition, the sheer act of using technology and mobile devices to do the work and capture the data will contribute to significant time savings in the long run. You can also see this as you’re able to make more informed decisions about equipment and assets that leads to money saved with better decision-making.

When you can put a dollar amount of your progress and operational goals, it speaks volumes to the C-suite.

Getting a seat at the table

If you want to see better alignment between facilities and leadership, open up the lines of communication, lead the conversation with data and create goals that achieve positive outcomes for everyone.

When every group has a seat at the table to contribute data that drives decision-making, these two groups can accomplish more together for the good of their organization and patients. And that can mean a lot for the impact your organization has on your community.

The next question is: How will you get started?

Source: 1“The IHI Triple Aim,” Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Shaun Rodgers is the Director of Healthcare Strategy, Dude Solutions.

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