We recently joined 4,000+ healthcare leaders from around the world at the 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership in Chicago. Here’s a summary of a few of the key discussions around the pressures impacting the sector, and how new energy strategies are providing a positive way forward.
ACHE Congress provided a great opportunity to meet, share ideas and learn from leaders and innovators across the healthcare sector, who were there to explore hot issues and gain practical solutions to today’s most pressing challenges in healthcare management and delivery. We identified some key areas where energy has a major role to play.
It was no surprise to hear that funding continues to be a major challenge in the US and in many other countries. Numerous aspects of the funding challenge were debated, and one topic that arose repeatedly was how the efficiency of healthcare operations can be improved.
Many hospitals face the same challenge of operating old buildings and aging infrastructure. Their inefficiency, high maintenance costs and deteriorating reliability not only increase costs for healthcare providers, but also raise the risk of major infrastructure failures. Such a failure could lead to wing or operating room closures, negatively impacting patient care. It would also result in lost revenues, further exacerbating funding challenges.
Many healthcare leaders are aware of the impact of continuing to operate aging, inefficient equipment. But many also feel unable to address the issue because of the perceived high capex investment required. The result is that infrastructure modernization is often happening in a piecemeal, reactive way, rather than as part of the hospital’s Strategic Facilities Master Plan or Energy Master Plan.
For us, the discussions reinforced the importance of healthcare providers taking advantage of innovative, new energy technologies and funding models. With budgets under intense pressure, it’s clearly essential that any avoidable spend is eliminated and that operational efficiency is optimized. More resources can then be devoted to patient care and population health management programs.
We know from our work across healthcare facilities that there are numerous opportunities to improve energy efficiency. Examples include the use of on-site generation (such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Solar Power Generation), and energy efficiency solutions (such as LED lighting, Capacity Tag Management, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) retrofits), that deliver significant reductions in energy consumption and cost.
In addition, the flexible funding models that are now available remove many of the barriers to deploying new technologies, freeing up capital to invest in improving patient care. Taking advantage of new, more efficient technologies doesn’t have to involve significant upfront costs. In some cases, our customers have even been able to generate a new income stream from their on-site generation assets, as well as leverage Federal, State and Utility incentive programs.
Another hot topic at the conference was the development of Healthcare Command Centers (HCCs), created to manage systems and monitor performance across multiple healthcare facilities.
As individual healthcare facilities consolidate into larger systems, HCCs aim to improve resource management across numerous systems, including the diversion of resources to where they’re most needed (for example, in the event of a mass casualty situation or a natural disaster).
The better visibility that HCCs enable also makes it easier to get comparative benchmarks, and drive greater efficiency and productivity across a range of areas, including energy usage and power reliability.
Undoubtedly, innovative technologies have an important role to play in delivering the insights and the remote visibility that HCCs rely on. These new technologies include Energy Insights, our sensor solution that monitors equipment performance and energy usage across multiple remote locations, providing central visibility via a cloud-based analytics platform. Uptake has been high in the university hospital setting, using our Insights technology to monitor critical clinical research equipment (e.g. ultra-low temperature freezers) to avoid failure and loss of years of research value. It’s this type of technology that’s making the HCC model increasingly viable and influential.
Both the healthcare and energy sectors are evolving rapidly as new technology opens up new opportunities. We are committed to ensuring that healthcare managers understand how the latest energy innovations can help them. With our hyper-efficient energy strategies, we believe we can empower the healthcare sector with the efficiencies that drive financial performance and reduce the risks of power outages, ultimately enabling improved patient outcomes.
Learn more about our approach to healthcare.