Aug 03, 2020
By Leslie O'Connell

Facilities Management and The Patient Experience

Well-designed medical facilities and hospitals can reduce anxiety, speed up recovery, and even shorten our hospital stays. Positive patient experiences and outcomes improve with comfortable and safe settings.

A lot of work goes into designing, building, and maintaining medical facilities to create environments that help us heal. We owe a lot to the people working in the background, maintaining our facilities to ensure our well-being.

Hospital support teams–like IT, Facilities, and Healthcare Technology Management (HTM)–work together to keep hospital campuses running smoothly. And they ensure all equipment and the buildings themselves are safe, compliant, and operational.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at just some of the ways hospital support teams help deliver better patient care.

 

Clinical EngineeringHTM (aka Clinical Engineering): This group ensures all medical devices used in the care of patients are tracked, maintained, compliant, and safe for use.

Planned maintenance programs are required to verify the medical device inventory and ensure equipment is operating properly. When there’s a problem with a device—especially a high risk and/or mission-critical device—processes should be in place to quickly assess and fix the issue before it affects patient care.

Sensor technology known as real-time location systems (RTLS) is often used to trace movable assets before or at the time of need. Quickly locating critical equipment during a crisis saves lives.

Medical devices are often connected to hospital networks, and unfortunately, they can be the entry point for a cyber-attack or they can be impacted by one. IT and HTM departments work together to keep medical devices protected from cyber-attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities.

 

Physical Facilities MaintenanceFacilities Maintenance: Facilities teams manage all aspects of the physical hospital setting, including equipment not directly related to patient care.

They also perform scheduled rounds, verifying that things like exit signs, fire doors, and fire extinguishers all meet patient safety and regulatory compliance requirements.

Physical features, such as the placement of doorways, handrails, and furniture, can help reduce patient falls and accidents and help the workflows of clinicians. Studies have shown that organized patient environments reduce the stress levels of both the patients and the care team.

 

Space Management

Space Management: Space management helps healthcare organizations minimize risk to patients and improve clinical workflows by carefully designing the physical infrastructure. Easy-to-navigate hospital layouts are crucial for keeping patients and their guests comfortable and at ease during their stay.

Space management design and maintenance is also critical in times of crisis, as we know from the COVID-19 response. Space management teams quickly mobilized to reorganize hospitals to reduce the spread of the virus. They redesigned areas to care for non-COVID patients and created more patient rooms when reaching capacity.

 

Environmental FactorsEnvironmental Factors: Engineering teams often take a lot of care in ensuring hospitals comply with industry standards and patient comfort when it comes to air quality. They manage the complex systems that heat and cool the hospital. And they maintain a crucial component of safety: airflow.

These engineering teams are also responsible for creating negative pressure rooms to contain contagions within a single room and prevent illness from spreading to other areas of the hospital. Airflow is so important to patient care that HVAC specialists use specialized equipment to measure relative pressures, volumes, and air exchanges. Patient comfort and safety is always a top priority when designing and maintaining systems for air quality.

 

A hospital support team’s mission is to deliver better patient care while ensuring all hospital facilities and medical devices are safe, compliant, and operational. Often the unsung heroes of the medical world, they are integral in creating and maintaining healthcare settings that are reliable and comfortable.

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