Hospital Resilience: 7 Ways Smart Systems Can Help

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As the recent pandemic that has gripped the world in the past several months makes strikingly clear, hospital resilience—its flexibility and adaptability in trying circumstances—matters as never before.

In a recent global panel discussion with 20 healthcare professionals on the topic of hospital resilience, among the ideas to emerge was that resilience means having the ability to anticipate and study the full scope of potential adverse events that can affect a health system, along with the infrastructure to resist, absorb or recover from each crisis.

Hospital Resilience

We agree. In our view, the health systems best positioned for future extreme demands will be those whose clinical and non-clinical operations are tailored to respond quickly and effectively to whatever natural or man-made threats come their way. In our area of focus–the non-clinical realm–this means planning for and working to optimize a built environment and facility operation management infrastructure that can sustain, bring back online or replace all of the systems that drive the organization’s clinical operations and financial functions.

Hospital Resilience Starts with its Environment

Luckily, with today’s increasingly smart facility management systems, achieving a high level of hospital resilience is possible. Here, as a guide in thinking about facilities in the short- and long-term, we touch on the seven most important aspects of resilience in healthcare as they pertain to the built environment. Each of these areas will be covered in more detail in future posts.

1.  More remote operations

Just as hospitals are transitioning from in-person visits to telehealth to curb the spread of infectious diseases, resilient organizations will expand their capacity to manage and troubleshoot building operations remotely, reducing requirements for an on-site facility management team.

2.  Power reliability and availability

Every health system must have resilience against grid instability. If power is lost from the grid, what redundancies does the system have in place to keep patients safe and clinical systems running without interruption? Organizations will use microgrid and other renewable technologies to ensure energy resilience on a moment’s notice in the event of a power outage.

3.  Enhanced cybersecurity

Health systems tend to focus cybersecurity efforts on patient data, financial information and medical devices, but facility management systems are vulnerable as well. A cyberattack could shut down a facility completely. Resilience requires making sure the back doors into these systems are closed.

4.  Increased asset protection

Facility operations are a core function in ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of patient care. An electrical network or building management system failure can stop a hospital’s ability to deliver that care. Resilient organizations will rely increasingly on proactive, predictive monitoring and preventative maintenance to anticipate and preemptively address any issues that could put clinical operations at risk.

5.  Improved security management

A health system can’t be resilient if it isn’t secure. It must balance the need to create a welcoming and accessible environment for visitors with security and safety concerns, including the safety of the patients in its care. Resilient organizations will incorporate smart systems that can, for example, identify the movement of an infectious patient in the facility, and whom they have come into contact with, in order to alert appropriate staff to take appropriate action and reduce the spread of infection

6.  Risk mitigation and compliance

The more resilient a health system, the more it is focused on reducing risk and complying with the appropriate regulations. Resilience, compliance and risk mitigation work symbiotically together.

7.   Designing for hospital resilience

Resilient health systems will realize the importance of careful decision-making in achieving an effective balance between resilience and cost management. Every patient room in a hospital could be turned into a negative pressure room—but at a what cost? Weighing cost considerations against flexibility and adaptability is the art and science of resilient design.

Health systems that incorporate innovations in facility management systems into their existing platforms with cost efficiency in mind will be the organizations that develop the resilience needed to withstand future uncertainty and rapid change. Visit EcoStruxure for Healthcare for more information.

Keep the conversation going! Tune in to Schneider Electric’s new Podcast Series for Everyday Extraordinary Healthcare focusing on Resiliency. Start listening.

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