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These healthcare trends are changing FM

In this time of economic uncertainty, the healthcare industry is not alone in facing the dual challenges of change and increasing costs. Taking a strategic approach to the often extensive real estate portfolios owned within the healthcare industry and optimising the efficiency of facilities management is vital in order to stay ahead.

Here, we take a look at some of the current healthcare trends affecting facility management.

1.      A high level of merger and acquisition activity is changing the approach to construction and real estate

In the past few years, the healthcare industry has witnessed unprecedented M&A activity, which has led to several cross-industry collaborations with non-traditional healthcare providers, faith-based organisations and pharmaceutical companies. Such consolidation is creating mega health systems, all of which will require a fresh approach to facilities management.

2.      Operating margins are tightening as costs-per-patient increase

While it is a constant source of political debate, it remains the case that healthcare providers are continuing to face cost pressures and the continuing need to balance patient care with tighter and tighter budget constraints. Improving outcomes for those at the receiving end of healthcare services, of course, remains the key priority across the industry, off-set against the need to find creative ways to reduce costs wherever possible. Facilities management is not immune.

3.      As the healthcare system evolves, traditional hospital networks could become obsolete

The many changes happening across the healthcare sector will undoubtedly mean changes to the approach taken towards real estate and its future management.

For example, the merger of different institutions combined with an increase in service provision from other providers is likely to mean a reduction in large all-encompassing hospital buildings as we see a move towards greater use of ambulatory surgeries, emergency clinics and micro-hospitals based within local communities.

With the aim of reaching local residents easily and addressing their health issues early within their local community, the hope for the future is to reduce the number of people developing acute illnesses which then require expensive treatment in a large, centralised facility. From a healthcare perspective, prevention is better than cure and most patients would prefer to receive treatment near their own homes. As such, the provision of localised facilities is likely to be a welcome progression for the future.

In addition to, most importantly, improving the overall patient experience, smaller outpatient centres are less expensive to build and maintain than traditional, larger hospital buildings. However, the management of such a diverse portfolio of buildings in various locations brings with it new challenges in terms of the ongoing management of each facility.

4.      The risk of hospital-acquired infections is still real

While receiving treatment for other health issues, there remains a risk of patients picking up further infections through simply being in a healthcare environment. As a result, there is a duty on those responsible for the management of buildings to look at what can be done with the physical environment to reduce the risk and spread of infections.

This may include the design and maintenance of buildings, from ventilation systems through to interior design.

Fresh thinking and embracing new technologies will be key to the future of FM in this industry as it supports the health of the population.


white drone in sky

3 Tech innovations transforming facilities

Technology is having a huge impact on many aspects of our everyday lives and so it comes as no surprise that technological advances are now also transforming facilities management. Three technologies in particular - drones, robots and advanced access control - are leading to rapid changes in the way in which facilities managers are planning and implementing security in their buildings. white drone in sky

Ensuring that the occupants of the building for which they are responsible feel safe, secure and content is a primary concern of any facilities management professional. Embracing technology to improve security and tackle issues is a forward-thinking and efficient approach. However, it’s vital to be aware of the challenges new technology may bring, and how best to deal with them.

We have taken a quick look at three state-of-the-art approaches to building security and the issues surrounding them.

1. Drones

Drones can provide unrivalled views of an area which would simply not otherwise be possible. They can easily and effectively be used to conduct thorough security patrols. Equally, the technology may also be used for other non-surveillance purposes, such as roof-top inspections.

However, their availability and ease of use which is so advantageous is also a potential downside. Just as drones can be used internally to monitor a building, they could be used by others external to an organisation for more sinister purposes, such as spying or for gaining illegal access to computer systems.

With the ever-increasing number of drones - commercial and private - in operation, it is essential that those working in facilities management understand this technology and the advantages and risks that it can bring.

Thankfully, where drones may pose a security risk for a building, there are detection and monitoring systems available. These will sense the presence of drones within a designated area and enable suitable responses to be taken.

2. Robots

No longer limited to futuristic sci-fi films, the use of robots is becoming a very real option for security, providing additional ‘eyes and ears’ and a very visual deterrent for anybody considering committing a crime.

Last year, a New York City airport became the first major airport in the country to deploy a robot security guard. Robotic security guards have been used in places such a stadiums and shopping centres but, to date, have been met with mixed emotions.

Concerns have been raised as to the capability and accuracy of artificial intelligence. However, there is no doubting that the technology is constantly improving and is here to stay. Robots are certainly a technology trend for anybody working in facilities to keep an eye on.

3. Advanced Access Control

The access control market is another technology predicted for explosive growth in the coming years. From an increase in the use of biometrics to facial recognition, the technology surrounding access control is becoming more and more sophisticated.

Like many other new technologies, there are privacy concerns surrounding the use of personal data and the willingness of people to use this to gain access to places of work. However, those in favour counter that such technology is already widely embraced by mobile-phone users.

Whether or not this technology is appropriate for a particular workplace could well be a cultural issue that those working in facilities need to consider.