Life expectancy increased by five years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s, according to the World Health Organization. Furthermore, the number of people over 60 is expected to double by 2050. With healthcare costs set to rise as much as 21 percent per GDP in Europe by 2050, the healthcare system is under an unsustainable strain.
Solutions are urgently needed, for now and the future — and the answer lies in embracing new technology and collaboration. There are three key areas where hospitals could benefit from a huge reduction in costs: access to reliable energy, optimization of current energy usage and infrastructure and, finally, engaging with new technologies that keep patient care center of focus.
In short, hospitals will need to become more efficient, and do far more with less. And there are ways to achieve this.
Reliable, life-saving energy supply
Sudden loss of power at a hospital is a severe risk for patients in the operating theater or those relying on life support machines. But, what’s surprising is many of these outages are caused by unexpected equipment failures in electrical equipment rather than extreme weather.
These failures are also a financial disaster for hospitals, most of which are only just breaking even. An eight-hour power outage in a 300 bed hospital can cost more than $1 million dollars in lost revenue as operations are canceled and patients are transferred by emergency services to other facilities.
But technology holds the key to ensuring life-saving power reliability. New power analytics can help predict anomalies before the failure of equipment so hospitals can operate optimally. Vital maintenance and part replacements can now happen before there is even a problem.
At Nemours Children’s Hospital the challenge was to provide reliable and consistent energy that helps deliver life-changing treatments to children in need, in an area notorious for severe weather and power outages. Nelson Roque, director of facilities and operations, made their goal clear, “it was absolutely essential that the power was clean and steady all-day long.”
The hospital teamed up with Schneider Electric to ensure that emergency generators restore life-saving power in 10 seconds or less and medical teams now have uninterrupted power.
How can new technology breathe life into aging infrastructure?
Hospitals often rely on aging, inefficient infrastructure which is unable to meet the pressures of ever growing patient needs.
Statistically, the average hospital room uses as much energy as two residential houses. A thirty percent reduction in energy in a three hundred bed hospital could provide enough savings to supply ten nurses, which in turn means better patient care.
New building systems and analytics can help hospital facility directors identify what can be improved to make savings. In one such case a biomedical research facility saved $284,000 in the first year just by responding to these findings.
Installing off-grid renewable energy sources are another way to cut costs. Solar panels installed in dead spaces like hospital carparks can cut hospital bills by up to five percent.
The Moorfields Eye Hospital in London is over a century old and its old Victorian infrastructure needed a bold over-haul to turn it into a state-of-the-art medical facility.
With Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Operation, the hospital was able to implement an update of its building management systems, reducing expenses and improving power monitoring and environment information for operating theaters, which also improves the patient’s safety during surgeries.
Andrey Sergeeve, chief engineer of Grand Medica Clinical Centre in Siberia, had similar goals. “We needed our patients to feel secure. In the end, we got what we wanted: an integrated approach. Schneider EcoStruxure provides peace of mind, security and confidence.” And that’s not all – the new measures led to a massive 20 percent reduction in operating costs.
When smarter technology means smarter admissions and more comfort
Studies show that patients who feel better and are more relaxed, recover faster, and with hospital staff often stretched to their breaking points, comfort can be harder to prioritize over more urgent medical needs.
But healthcare technology is getting smarter, and is improving patient care and satisfaction in cost effective ways. Applications such as Schneider’s Clinical Environment Optimization helps hospitals save energy and improve patient comfort by automatically adjusting room conditions and reducing energy based on room occupancy identified in the hospitals admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) system.
The patient experience is also being transformed through “smart room” technology. Mobile apps are allowing patients to control simple comforting measures like room temperature, drawing blinds, controlling entertainment or dimming lights – leaving nurses and other staff to focus on interpersonal care.
World leaders in visibility solutions for healthcare, STANLEY Healthcare, teamed up with Schneider to create Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) solutions that talk to the building maintenance systems (BMS) and security systems to provide a new level of actionable intelligence.
STANLEY Healthcare’s innovative AeroScout RTLS technology with Schneider’s internet of things-enabled digital hospital platform (EcoStruxure for Healthcare) gives the ability to leverage advanced analytics to monitor the status and location of patients, staff and critical medical equipment which enables healthcare professionals to make better decisions, improve operations, and provide higher-quality patient care.
Sagi Geva, director of acute care solutions for STANLEY Healthcare, explains the far-reaching impact that new data sources are having on healthcare: “Hospitals everywhere are facing demands to care for more patients while also improving each patient’s experience. ‘Doing more of the same’ won’t achieve either goal. What we’re doing with Schneider Electric is equipping hospitals with new insights so that they can rethink how care is delivered to improve efficiency and quality at the same time.”
The future of healthcare is digital
New technologies can help hospitals operate more efficiently, saving money and time better spent on patient care. Simple energy savings with ongoing remote assistance to continuously update and shape operations are an effective route.
Where hospitals are driving down these overall costs using technology, the benefits are passed on directly to the patient and could help create a sustainable healthcare system for the future, for everyone.