By Paul Torres, President of Integrated Facilities Management
Within healthcare, approximately 1/3 of all hospitals have negative operating margins; budgets are tight to say the least. Hospital administrators are looking to other areas to reduce waste and minimize costs, while striving not only to maintain, but to improve the patient experience. Add to that the complexities of new construction methods and materials and compliance with regulatory bodies, and you have a perfect opportunity and place for innovation.
This is where integrated facilities management (IFM) can come in as a partner and have a significant impact on a hospital’s bottom line.
Partnering with a company that specializes in managing facilities management can provide a number of benefits and savings opportunities that hospital administrators may not even realize are on the table.
Five benefits of partnering with an organization that specializes in integrated facilities management:
- Expertise. Historically, most facilities managers have reported directly to someone in the C-Suite. Since most hospital administrators don’t have training in areas of facilities management and plant operations, many facilities don’t receive sufficient checks and balances to ensure that they are best utilizing all the cost savings opportunities available to them. Effective Integrated Facilities Management providers, like HHS’ IFM service line, provide hospital leaders with extensive experience and insight into all areas of plant operations, including HVAC, building automation, construction, and more. A reputable IFM partner will provide a hands-on management team that empowers the on-site team, which is a critical component in delivering success. This team provides an additional layer of support at the local level, ensuring that operations run smoothly, issues are escalated and resolved expediently, and capital is saved wherever possible.
- Compliance. Compliance is the key to the ongoing success of any IFM program, and should be a primary focus of any IFM provider. At HHS, we place paramount importance on compliance, and we pride ourselves on our ability to ensure our partner facilities are in a constant state of readiness to meet all local and federal regulations. HHS is investing heavily into custom online management tools for nearly every aspect of facilities management compliance.
- Tools & Training. In addition to comprehensive initial training, on-site managers should be equipped with monthly training tools and extensive ongoing support to ensure that they stay up-to-date with the latest requirements and industry best practices. An experienced IFM provider will have robust internal tools and resources to facilitate and promote both the everyday responsibilities of the IFM team, as well as each individual team member’s ongoing development. We do that. At HHS, we believe in empowering our managers with the tools they need to be effective and successful, and as a result, our managers are able to perform the same checks and balances offered by cost-prohibitive off-site vendors. Many vendors, such as certified thermographers, charge upwards of $5,000 per day to visit facilities and run diagnostic tests and report; by providing our managers with these handheld tools and the training to use them, our partners see a very clearly-defined cost savings over and over again.
- Purchasing. Perhaps the largest area where a qualified IFM provider and program can show tangible benefit to a hospital is through reduction in the spend category called Purchased Services. HHS works through national and local contracts to drive down prices when hiring vendors for all areas needing outside expertise or labor; ground maintenance, pest control, HVAC maintenance, safety inspections, testing and certifications, and more. Where applicable, an IFM provider can also hire and manage full-time on-site staff to take charge of these tasks, eliminating the need for outside vendors all together.
- Support. Facility emergencies can happen at any time, and in order to ensure constant readiness and the ability to react quickly when emergencies occur, it is imperative that facilities management systems are in place to handle the weight of that responsibility. HHS has the most innovative Support Services Call Center and technology available today. It is the same technology employed by Fortune 500 companies, but has been customized by HHS for HIPAA compliance. We can receive, log, resolve, and escalate, any work order request from a call, voicemail, email, social media post, online forum, or chat, and automatically turn that request into a work order even when all lines are busy. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This can be hard to accomplish with limited internal budgets, and is one of the most significant ways hiring an outside IFM specialist can benefit a hospital. IFM experts like those here at HHS understand the 24/7/365 nature of facilities management, and are prepared to address facilities issues and provide proactive, hands-on support at a moment’s notice, no matter where it’s needed.
As healthcare providers continue to seek out new ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality outcomes or negatively impacting the patient experience, bringing in outside experts and resources to handle specific internal functions like facilities management can provide substantial benefits. Partnering with reputable, specialized vendors like HHS’ IFM team allows hospital leaders to gain a more detailed understanding and oversight of internal operational functions, while at the same time improving quality outcomes, increasing efficiency, and reducing costs.
Paul Torres is President of Integrated Facilities Management at HHS and provides leadership for the engineering components of HHS' Integrated Facilities Management, Enhanced Asset Management©, and Continuous Decommissioning© service lines. For more than two decades, Torres has worked with healthcare systems both large and small throughout the world, all major medical equipment OEMs, and Fortune 500 firms. With operational oversight of several billions of dollars in healthcare square footage, Torres is a recognized subject matter expert in Asset Management. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University and serves on the Board of Advisors within the College of Engineering. He is also a Lifetime Member of the Construction Industry Advisory Council.