Five Ways Hospitals Use Data To Improve Building Performance

A new report from JLL reveals five ways hospitals are applying advanced data analytics to improve operational performance of buildings, property, and equipment.

The alarm sounds and all eyes quickly turn toward the monitor. Against the backdrop of beeps and buzzes, a team scans the incoming data to assess the status of the patient under observation. It’s a scene playing out in hospitals across the country — but not in the way you may think.

Credit: Keith Brofsky

In much the same way clinicians track patients’ vital signs, facility managers at hospitals monitor essential data from sophisticated sensors placed within equipment. In the above scenario, the “patient” is the HVAC system, and it’s the facilities management team feverishly interpreting the data to make a decision and stabilize the situation.

Think of it as population health management for real estate and facilities.

“Hospitals are using data to identify and track high-risk and at-risk patients,” said Pete Bulgarelli, Executive Managing Director, JLL Corporate Solutions. “But few have a technology platform to help them manage the part of their business that represents 40 percent or more of the assets on their balance sheets. If hospitals applied a population health management model to their real estate and facilities, they would reduce the risk associated with aging equipment and infrastructure and keep them performing at a high level, avoiding inefficiencies and potential issues later.”

In the clinical setting, population health management uses data to guide decisions and strategies that improve the health of individuals at the lowest necessary cost. A new report from JLL identifies five areas influenced by facilities management that are ripe for applying a population health mind-set.

  1. Patient Safety and Satisfaction: Among other things, technology platforms can track routine maintenance work orders through a mobile device, allowing for requests to be easily made and then prioritized, assigned, executed, and tracked. Analyzing the data can also uncover recurring problems with people, processes, or equipment, creating opportunities for sustainable performance improvement and ultimately leading to a more efficient and safe environment for patients and families.
  2. Life Safety: Progressive hospitals and health systems have begun using an automated approach to regulatory compliance, using data to understand how to use resources more effectively. For example, analytics show the percentage of failed life safety elements to better understand the condition of buildings and how they’re maintained. Automating and proactively addressing life safety code and environment of care regulations and standards not only improves compliance, it enhances patient, staff, and visitor safety and ensures facilities are ready for any regulatory review.
  3. Environmental Equipment: Rather than doing manual spot checks to see how well equipment is operating, sophisticated sensors can continuously track performance and transmit that data in real-time. These sensors can also generate data that allows users to anticipate when that equipment might fail and take action to mitigate the risk of failure.
  4. Medical Equipment: The use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags helps maintain an accurate inventory of medical equipment and its location, helping to avoid having the right equipment in the wrong room. To take it even farther, “smart” medical equipment, which can talk directly to other equipment without human intervention via the Internet of Things, can transmit real-time location and performance data to the technology platform.
  5. Space Utilization: Why do some rooms sit empty while others are cramped with equipment or supplies? Why are some diagnostic testing areas located close to patient rooms and others are not? Use of a particular space can sometimes be a subjective decision — but it doesn’t have to be. With a few computer keystrokes, a facilities manager can pull up a color-coded floor map and select a filter to view space by a number of variables. The result is information that paves the way for making objective, informed decisions on the most appropriate, effective and efficient use of space.

“Using technology solutions to make data-driven real estate decisions is as much about patients as it is about physical assets and cost savings,” said Bulgarelli. “Hospitals’ needs are evolving rapidly. Through a series of recent technology-focused acquisitions, including Corrigo, BRG and Advanced Technologies Group, JLL is staying at the forefront of innovation to enable better and more informed decisions that complement the effort by all healthcare providers to improve the quality of care, the safety of care and patient experience.”