3 Trends in Hospital Facility Management in 2021
By Christopher Hariz
on January 8, 2021
While the start of the decade has been difficult for everyone, healthcare workers faced the most severe challenges. With heavier workloads and staff shortages, hospital facility managers have had to look to new technologies to use time more efficiently. As 2021 kicks off, the digitization of health care facilities continues to be a salient trend.
The pandemic has placed facility managers under tremendous pressure to maintain safe and comfortable environments for patients and staff, with fewer resources than ever before. As all-time high numbers of patients begin to overwhelm our health systems, facilities staff has needed to create ad-hoc patient rooms from offices, common areas, and other spaces while paying strict attention to preventing virus transmission.
Before the pandemic, the healthcare field discussed concepts like Smart Buildings, IoT, and automation largely in theory rather than practice. However, the instant demand created by the pandemic requires that 2021 focus on applications to deliver immediate, tangible improvements that directly impact the environment of care. Here, we focus on three trends in Smart Devices that are empowering facility managers to, frankly, do more with less.
Trend #1: Increased Safety Standards
Many of the measures currently recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of virulent diseases, such as expanded negative-pressure areas and usage-based cleaning cycles, are likely to soon become regulatory requirements. While necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and future mass outbreaks, such requirements will undoubtedly increase the burden on already thinly-spread facilities departments. Fortunately, new generation Smart Devices are entering the market that promise to automate much of the testing and inspection currently done by hand. These devices are capable of performing the entire cycle of compliance: monitoring, recordkeeping, and alerting, without IT involvement or hefty capital expenditures.
- No-drill room pressure monitors to identify failures in negative-pressure area
- People flow monitoring to identify high-traffic, high risk, areas
- Room usage monitoring to adjust cleaning cycles.
Trend #2: Management Free Systems
While traditional smart devices collect and transmit readings (pressure, voltages, etc) to a platform for humans to interpret, new “management-free” systems take this one step further by analyzing whether life safety devices meet code, automatically generating compliance reports, and only alerting staff when their attention is needed.
Coupled with Cloud-based platforms, modern Smart Devices allow instant access to any device’s current compliance status, report history, and testing schedules from any smart phone or computer – without the need to download proprietary apps or software.
The end goal is to eliminate the inspections and testing currently being done manually by on-site staff – allowing technicians to focus resources on repairs and improvements. For managers, this effort guarantees compliance with AHJ requirements – freeing up mental bandwidth to prioritize projects and responses to emergencies.
New generation vendors like Hexmodal are using Smart Devices to make more time for their partners by automating the testing of emergency lighting, and the monitoring of negative pressure rooms.
Trend #3: Ease of Adoption
Innovative technologies are useless without the ability to adopt them on a wide scale. Traditionally, major capital requirements and intensive installation processes have hampered the adoption of Smart Devices in medical buildings. However, modern contracts and technology have made it dramatically easier to afford and install IoT products.
The End of CapEx
Until recently, major capital expenditure was necessary to purchase and install Smart Devices. However, vendors like Hexmodal are increasingly including devices at no cost with monitoring agreements. Facilities managers can now access smart devices that previously cost thousands of dollars, such as room pressure sensors, for only a few dollars per month with no initial investment. As vendors also take on responsibility for monitoring, record keeping, and alerting – ease of use has also benefited.
Ease of Deployment
Plug-and-play set up has massively simplified the adoption of Smart Devices. Older IoT technologies required intensive installation procedures, involved IT, and demanded access to wifi or data lines. Modern Smart Devices use cellular connections to transmit information, meaning that they only require power to function. Install times of these devices are measured in minutes, without IT involvement or access to client internet. This also greatly simplifies IT approval, since hospital networks with sensitive information are never accessed.
ABOUT HEXMODAL TECHNOLOGIES
Hexmodal uses Smart Devices to make more time for their clients by automating the testing of emergency lighting, and the monitoring of negative pressure rooms. With no capital investment or IT involvement, Hexmodal’s devices are affordable and easy to install. Hexmodal proudly supports thousands of devices at hospitals and other large facilities in the United States. Hexmodal has offices in Brooklyn, NY and Providence, RI. www.hexmodal.com
The ASHE Annual Conference 2021 in Nashville brings together the nation’s top experts and practitioners in healthcare facilities management and engineering! We’re very excited to meet all of you there and welcome you to our Booth #421!
LoRaWAN protocol can support large networks with millions of devices without significant power or infrastructure costs.
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