The vast majority (94%) of surveyed healthcare facility managers say remote management is important for operational efficiency, according to a new report from Honeywell. Only one in four (25%) surveyed currently have such a system in place, but 26% plan to invest in this technology over the next 12 to 18 months.
The report, “Rethinking Healthcare Facilities as Integrated Entities,” the fourth in Honeywell’s 2021 Building Trends series, presents the challenges, priorities, and assessments of surveyed facility managers across the healthcare sector in the U.S., China, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
Occupant safety and wellbeing also ranked high in priority, with more than 90% 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%), fire detection software (28%), or aspirating smoke detection (25%).
Additionally, operational challenges amplified by COVID-19 has raised awareness of predictive maintenance as a key enabler of efficiency, with 61% of respondents more willing to invest in it today than in pre-pandemic times. Just 30% of those surveyed currently have such a system in place, but 30% are likely to invest in this technology in the near term and 27% 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 (30%), reduced downtime (29%), and better indoor air quality (28%).
Budgetary concerns also surfaced throughout the survey findings. Three in four 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%) express concerns about keeping up with growing capacity needs. Despite these challenges, 31% of surveyed facility managers consider improving patient satisfaction one of their top near-term priorities, while 29% prioritize improving energy efficiency.
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% 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 (56%) say improving staff productivity and building operations and 52% mention the ability to manage all building systems through a single platform with unified data and insights.
“Connected healthcare facilities have been shown to improve patient care, clinical outcomes and operational efficiency,” said Keith Fisher, vice president, global services, Honeywell Building Technologies. “Increasing operational insight can help them optimize the use of their assets to avoid bottlenecks, cut waiting times and upgrade the overall patient experience. Many of these goals can be achieved by upgrading an existing building management system without the need to rip and replace. This is important as facilities are increasingly expected to improve day-to-day outcomes and enhance efficiencies with little or no increase in budgets.”
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.