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Digital

 

By Mark Mochel
From the June 2024 Issue

 

In the intricate landscape of healthcare and senior living, where staff, patients, and residents depend on the optimal performance of all equipment, the challenges are significant. Budget constraints, labor shortages, and the relentless demands of providing clean and safe services underscore the critical need for strategic infrastructure investment. This article will explore the transformative power of data-driven decision-making to address these challenges facing the healthcare industry.

Healthcare and Senior Living Facilities, healthcare industry
(Photo: Adobe Stock / dz)

The Unchanging Macro-Economic Realities

Through my discussions with facility managers in the healthcare and senior living sectors, one theme remains constant — the impact of macro-economic factors. Inflation, disruptions in the supply chain, and the ever-present economic challenges continue to cast a shadow over the industry’s profitability. As we navigate these macro-economic waters, the difficulty of securing budgets, both operational and capital, has become a stark reality. Notably absent from C-suite discussions is the aging infrastructure, a concern that remains underestimated or misunderstood in its criticality to operations.

In addressing these challenges, the need for a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s economic landscape becomes imperative. From my perspective, the healthcare and senior living sectors are grappling not only with financial uncertainties but also with a fundamental shift in how infrastructure investments are perceived. There’s a crucial need to bridge the gap between the traditional approach to budget allocation and the indispensable role that strategic infrastructure investments play in ensuring long-term viability, efficiency, and patient and resident care. Simply put, aging infrastructure increases risk.

Budget Pressures And Labor Shortages: A Symbiotic Struggle

The pandemic has intensified the financial strain on healthcare organizations, leading to frozen or reduced capital investments. Simultaneously, staff reductions and cost-cutting measures have created a labor shortage, impacting both capital and operational budgets. In this environment, the importance of maintaining existing assets efficiently becomes paramount. The question arises: How can facilities managers advocate for necessary asset repairs or replacements when faced with constrained budgets and a scarcity of skilled labor?

My proposition is rooted in a strategic shift towards preventive maintenance and the adoption of asset management software. While there may be initial hesitations regarding the perceived costs, the key lies in aligning asset data tracking with broader initiatives such as energy reduction, decarbonization, life safety, and a viable environment of care. This transforms the narrative from infrastructure asset management to a holistic approach that addresses broader business outcomes.

The Power Of Data In Decision-Making

Central to overcoming these challenges is the role of data in decision-making. The adoption of preventive maintenance strategies and asset management software enables facilities to collect and track data on their assets. This data becomes a powerful tool for justifying ongoing budget needs and demonstrating the value of efficient resource deployment.

The rewards that facilities experience extend beyond tactical benefits, such as prolonged equipment lifespan, allowing facility leaders to gain a seat at the strategic decision-making table. This benefit fosters collaborative engagement and a cultural shift where infrastructure investment is as critical input into patient and resident care.

Redefining Facility Management: A Business Imperative

Moving forward, facilities managers must advocate for a paradigm shift in how facility management is perceived by redefining it as a business problem rather than an engineering challenge. It’s not merely about maintaining the physical infrastructure but optimizing resources, mitigating risks, and contributing directly to the organization’s overall success. By embracing this perspective, facilities managers can position themselves as integral contributors to the business strategy, earning the respect and recognition they deserve.

Moving forward, facilities managers must advocate for a paradigm shift in how facility management is perceived by redefining it as a business problem rather than an engineering challenge.

The Future Landscape: Balancing Efficiency And Sustainability

Further, the focus must extend beyond immediate challenges to the broader goals of sustainability and environmental responsibility. Facilities must not only ensure the efficiency of their operations but also align with increasing global initiatives for energy reduction and decarbonization. Here, the role of data becomes even more pronounced, offering insights into the environmental impact of facility operations and guiding decisions that contribute to a sustainable future.

Embracing Technological Innovations: A Catalyst For Transformation

As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, healthcare and senior living facilities find themselves at a crossroads. The integration of smart technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) into facility management systems presents a golden opportunity to revolutionize how assets are monitored, maintained, and optimized.

The synergy between data-driven decision-making and technological advancements is undeniable. Smart sensors embedded in critical infrastructure components can continuously collect real-time data, offering insights into performance metrics, energy consumption patterns, and potential maintenance needs. This wealth of information empowers facilities managers to make informed decisions, aligning with the overarching goal of preventive maintenance and cost-effective resource utilization.

The Human Element: Nurturing A Culture Of Collaboration

While data and technology play pivotal roles in redefining facility management, it’s essential not to overlook the human element. Nurturing a culture of collaboration between facilities management teams, healthcare professionals, and administrative staff is paramount. The seamless integration of these diverse skill sets fosters a holistic approach to problem-solving and ensures that facility management decisions align with the broader organizational objectives.

To this end, effective communication channels and cross-functional collaboration platforms become indispensable. Facilities managers should actively engage with healthcare professionals to understand their evolving needs, aligning facility management strategies with the dynamic nature of patient care. By creating a shared vision and collaborative framework, facilities can overcome challenges more effectively, promoting a culture where every stakeholder recognizes the vital role of optimal facility management in delivering quality healthcare services.

Strategic Partnerships: A Gateway To Success

In the pursuit of redefining facility management, strategic partnerships also emerge as a powerful tool. Collaborating with industry experts, technology providers, and sustainability consultants can provide facilities managers with invaluable insights and resources. These partnerships extend beyond conventional vendor-client relationships into collaborative efforts focused on achieving mutual success.

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Facilities managers can leverage external expertise to navigate complex challenges, stay abreast of technological advancements, and gain access to specialized knowledge. Further, strategic partnerships can open doors to innovative funding models, allowing facilities to overcome budget constraints and invest in transformative initiatives. The collective knowledge and resources pooled through this collaboration position healthcare and senior living facilities on a trajectory toward sustained success.

Paving The Way Forward In The Healthcare Industry

Looking ahead, healthcare and senior living facilities will continue to face significant challenges, but the path forward lies in preventive maintenance, leveraging asset data, and redefining facility management as a business imperative. Through these strategic shifts, organizations can navigate challenges, optimize resources, and ensure the continuity of clean and safe services for both staff and patients.

Healthcare and Senior Living Facilities, Mark Mochel, BrightlyMochel, MBA, CHFM, PMP, ACABE is currently a Strategic Account Executive at Brightly, a Siemens company. Before joining Brightly, he was a Co-Founder and Senior Vice President at Facility Health Inc., where he was instrumental in introducing new infrastructure investment solutions and benchmarking capabilities to the healthcare and senior living industries.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section of the online version of this article at FacilityExecutive.com. Or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

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Facility Executive Magazine