Four trends leading advances in today’s healthcare operations

As transformation, innovation and technology continue to drive the evolution of healthcare facilities and operations management, four key trends are enabling healthcare operations executives to make a significant impact on their own facilities.

Data propels healthcare facilities decision-making
Data—and lots of it—drives the decisions that everyone makes in business today, and healthcare facilities operations management is no exception. In an Oracle study of 333 C-level executives (30 of whom are healthcare executives), 94% say their company is collecting and managing more business information today than they did two years ago. While it is critical that all healthcare facilities are prepared to gather, store and interpret this information, 40% of the healthcare executives surveyed gave themselves a "D" or an "F" rating in terms of their preparedness to handle the onslaught of data.

In the same Oracle study, 93% of executives surveyed said their company is losing revenue—on average, 14% annually—as a result of not being able to fully leverage data. Often, the biggest challenge is to find the most efficient, cost-effective ways to capture and report on data for the facility's day-to-day operations. This often involves a data-driven facility management solution as it can help facilitate using data to track required compliance based inspections, testing and reporting on facility maintenance, rounding to support environment of care, facility safety and preparedness and patient care. In addition, effective facility data management can help more efficiently manage operations budgeting and capital planning.

Emergency preparedness is a must have
These days, it isn't enough that a hospital is prepared for just small-scale accidents and acts of nature. It's critical that all healthcare facilities have detailed plans in place for even extreme instances such as a mass casualty incident (MCI). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that facilities' emergency management programs include:

1. Hazard identification – Identify and list any hazards that could potentially affect the facility, both indirect and direct
2. Hazard mitigation – Take measures to reduce or eliminate the probability of the above hazards affecting the facility
3. Preparedness – Develop a detailed plan to meet the needs of staff, patients and visitors in the event of a hazard impact
4. Response – Outline the steps that staff members need to take immediately before (for an impending threat), during and after any incident
5. Recovery – Plan activities and programs for during and after an event to help return the facility to its usual state or a "new normal"

A range of safety management programs and apps can help ensure hospital facilities, stakeholders, employees and staff are prepared for emergency situations large and small.

Recognize patients are also consumers
Healthcare patients today are true consumers who want to be more in control of their healthcare experiences. One driver of this shift is an industry-wide focus on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's TripleAim of improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of key populations and reducing per-capita health care costs. Another driver is the emphasis on delivering quality healthcare and fostering patient engagement. Technology—via websites, social media, blogs and more—that provides patients with immediate access to online reviews, price transparency and care ratings is also contributing to this shift in mindset from patients to consumers.

Healthcare operations professionals have a vital role to play in the shift to treating patients as empowered consumers. A top-rated Environment of Care (EOC) contributes to a positive patient treatment process, overall sense of well being and satisfaction with the healthcare provider. Maintaining an excellent EOC requires vigilance in a number of key areas, such as using mobile technology to manage formal EOC tours and quality assurance rounding.

Communicating effectively with hospital staff, patients and visitors can also help boost EOC ratings. Facilities managers have a responsibility to confirm that compliance work and routine maintenance is completed on time using alerts and notifications so all relevant parties are informed.

Cost reduction remains a focus
Healthcare organizations are always looking for ways to trim extraneous costs, ranging from consolidation of specialized care facilities to cost reduction consultants. At any given time, an operations manager should have a good ballpark figure of their hospital's facility spending. That includes materials, labor and productivity costs, individual asset costs and capital expenditures, as well as system-level and energy management (using benchmarked data) costs. A CMMS is often utilized to help track these costs and forecast future capital planning costs. In a doing more with less environment, it is important that facilities managers be aligned with their hospital's C-suite and/or Board of Directors as they assess business metrics and how the facility costs fit into the overall budgets.

Staying ahead in healthcare operations requires a keen understanding of how these trends can benefit and impact a facility's operations. Big data should be driving business decisions more than ever, and facilities mangers need a solution in place to help effectively manage and interpret all this information so they can make smarter, more informed business decisions. Being prepared for any event—from an infection outbreak to a variety of lockdown situations, healthcare facilities must have detailed plans to place to protect patients and staff in the face of a crisis.

The continuing shift to thinking of patients as "consumers" must be at the forefront as many of today's patients have choices on which healthcare facility they choose. Similarly, getting more value for facilities management spend is a mantra that will persist. The healthcare facility operations managers that will thrive will be the ones that stay on top of these trends and regularly assess where related changes can add up to big savings.

By Earl Laing, Healthcare Marketing Manager for TheWorxHub by Dude Solutions

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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