The majority (94 percent) of healthcare facility managers recognize that remote management of their facilities is critical for operational efficiency. However, only 1 in 4 managers have such a system in place. A quarter of managers plan to rectify that by investing in this technology for the next 12 to 18 months, according to the report “Rethinking Healthcare Facilities as Integrated Entities,” from Honeywell.
Now that they’ve dealt with the operational challenges of COVID-19 for well over a year, respondents recognize that a smart building is foundational to increasing operational efficiencies and throughput. Nearly 64 percent of them are now more likely to invest in smart building technologies than in pre-pandemic times. As for which aspects of a smart building they consider most important, a majority say improving staff productivity and building operations and half mention the ability to manage all building systems through a single platform with unified data and insights.
A connected healthcare facility can centrally monitor, align and manage multiple processes to optimize workflows and otherwise improve operational throughput. Such a facility can also use its integrated technology platform to generate revenues and control or avoid costs. Integrating multiple technology domains gives facilities the tools they need to improve patient experience and staff satisfaction with innovations such as self-service patient portals and mobile apps for clinical staff.
Additionally, operational challenges amplified by COVID-19 have raised awareness of predictive maintenance as a key enabler of efficiency, with 61 percent of respondents more willing to invest in it today than in pre-pandemic times. Just 30 percent of those surveyed currently have such a system in place, but 30 percent are likely to invest in this technology in the near term and 27 percent will likely procure real-time tracking of people and assets to help enhance operational efficiency. The three improvements respondents believe would provide the greatest benefit to occupants are predictive maintenance, reduced downtime, and better indoor air quality.
Occupant safety and wellbeing also ranked high in priority, with more than 90 percent of surveyed facility managers saying improved indoor air quality (IAQ) and life safety systems are important to attracting and retaining facility occupants. Respondents are likely to invest in at least one of the following over the next 12 to 18 months: IAQ solutions (28 percent), fire detection software (28 percent) or aspirating smoke detection (25 percent).
Budgetary concerns also surfaced throughout the survey findings. Three in 4 respondents struggle with securing the financial resources to address their operational needs — an ongoing challenge for many healthcare organizations further aggravated by COVID-19’s preemption of elective surgeries and other profitable treatments. Nearly as many (74 percent) express concerns about keeping up with growing capacity needs. Despite these challenges, 31 percent of surveyed facility managers consider improving patient satisfaction one of their top near-term priorities, while 29 percent prioritize improving energy efficiency.