The ENTOUCH Blog

04. 17. 2017

For Healthcare Facilities Managers, The Internet of Things Enables Proactive Facility Management

Healthcare facilities are typically housed in complex buildings with unique requirements that impact patient care and sanitation. The facilities managers carry a heavy burden in maintaining the infrastructure and systems to support an optimal healthcare experience for visiting patients. For example, ice machines on each floor or unit may require servicing to prevent contamination, and refrigerators used to store drinks and medications must be kept at a safe operating temperature. Meanwhile, facilities teams are often short-staffed and the duty of medical employees is to provide care, not monitor the energy usage of individual rooms and patient areas, especially when only essential care professionals are on duty during night shifts. Therefore, the IoT can be an integral part of effective facility management in healthcare.

Healthcare facilities managers cannot always be on duty. However, operations continue in healthcare around the clock, and IoT is changing the narrative.

IoT-Enabled Devices Mitigate Risk and Improve Patient Care

Equipment tracking and cleaning schedules can be enhanced by the IoT. For example, sensors on restroom doors can track the number of uses, helping custodial staff keep facilities sanitary. Meanwhile, the IoT can be deployed to monitor equipment settings, such as refrigerators and HVAC systems in areas where air quality and germ-free environments are critical, like post-acute care or intensive care units.

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Centralized Facility Management Is Crucial to Enhancing Access to Healthcare

Access to healthcare is about more than just insurance; it includes the physical locations of healthcare facilities. In rural areas, facilities management may mean driving hundreds of miles for on-site changes and issues. Yet, a central location for managing these distributed facilities can eliminate the time wasted on travel, decreasing overall facilities management costs. Similarly, automated notifications and alerts of equipment issues can help facilities managers reduce the number of hours spent by staff members “waiting” on something to happen, creating an “on-call” form of facilities management.

Blackouts Are Catastrophic in Healthcare

People may be undergoing surgery. Others may rely on ventilators to keep breathing during severe illnesses, and lack of lightning can increase the risk for falls. Each of these problems reflects the ongoing energy demands of healthcare facilities, but blackouts are an issue in modernity. For healthcare facilities managers, an effective energy management system (EMS) must consider the network of generators and backup power resources that are activated when the outside power stops. IoT-enabled systems can automatically kick in when an event occurs, keeping the lights on and avoiding the catastrophes that could result from loss of power in a healthcare facilities.

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The IoT Is Becoming Integral to All Parts of Healthcare, Not Just Facilities Management

Consider today’s methods of electronic charting and documentation in healthcare. Handheld scanners are used to identify and log medications given to patients while in the hospital, and even the tools used by nurses and health professionals for care are getting a makeover via the IoT. Stethoscopes are even connected to the IoT now, letting physicians hear patients’ hearts over great distances.

Since the IoT is becoming more fundamental in healthcare, it only makes sense that its application in healthcare facilities management will grow. Having a centralized means of monitoring and controlling healthcare facilities management and leveraging the actionable data these systems produce will be key to the survival and growth of healthcare in the coming years.
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