By Devon Maresco
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are scary, unfamiliar places—or at least, that’s the way we see them when we’re admitted. It’s one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry to make a hospital or clinic seem like a warm, welcoming, relaxing place. It’s tough, but not impossible. An above-and-beyond approach to healthcare facilities management has a powerful impact on patient experience—and even recovery prospects.
The concept behind healthcare facility management isn’t much different from any other commercial space management. The building and everything in it need to support the actions and activities of the people using them. With an experiential focus, there’s opportunity to transform the hospital environment from a confusing, daunting place, to an environment conducive to comfort.
What is healthcare facility management?
Healthcare facilities management focuses on coordinating facilities, assets, and people to concentrate on delivering the highest standard of patient care. In the healthcare setting, there are also layers of compliance, security, and emergency planning involved. It all adds up to a functioning healthcare environment that’s enabling to medical professionals and comfortable for the people they’re treating.
Healthcare facility management needs to be agile, dynamic, and careful. These facilities move very quickly—whether it’s a one-hour outpatient appointment or a marathon inpatient procedure. That means coordinating space, people, assets, and resources with steadfast precision, to avoid delays that could be critical to a person’s health. There’s a lot of pressure—but at the same time, healthcare facilities are some of the best-run in the world.
What is the function of healthcare facilities management?
Whether it’s a hospital with 1,000 beds or a small urgent care clinic with five rooms, the core premise of healthcare facilities management is the same: to empower the highest standards of care. Whether they need a diagnosis or are in for a complex surgery, healthcare professionals need complete support from facilities to treat patients.
The function of facilities management is to enable caregiving in all forms, at the highest level. Other functions of healthcare facilities management include:
- Facilitate a safe environment with minimal cross-exposure
- Maintain patient privacy, comfort, and accessibility during their stay
- Protect people and property, including records, controlled substances, and equipment
- Simplify navigation for professionals, patients, and visitors
- Coordinate the use of shared equipment and resources, to ensure timely care
- Control costs associated with complex business lines
All of these distill down into an equally important benefit alongside the enablement of care: patient experience.
Factors that affect patient experience
Patient experience in the hospital environment hinges on so many factors. And while these factors vary from facility to facility, situation to situation, they’re all rooted in facilities management. Some common contributors from a facility standpoint include:
- Time to wait, including for appointments, diagnoses, testing, and procedures
- Comfort in facilities, including for inpatient stays or while navigating
- Atmosphere, such as access to natural light, fresh air, and privacy
- Transparency, or the ability to understand where they are and what’s happening
Numerous other factors contribute to patient experience, including their interactions with staff and their prognosis. Even these variables have roots in facilities. For example, well-coordinated floors can reduce the runaround for nurses, who in-turn have more time to spend with patients and who can be more personable since they’re not rushed.
The smoother the patient’s transition through healthcare facilities, the better the experience. The same goes for doctors, nurses, and specialists. When facilities aren’t a hindrance, they become an enabler of great patient care and a superior patient experience.
Tenants of good healthcare facility management
Good healthcare facility management comes down to two main factors: agility and control. You can’t have one without the other in a healthcare setting.
Say, for example, there’s a surgery scheduled at 2pm but a triage case comes in at 1:45pm. This situation doesn’t have time to develop—there’s a life on the line. Good facility management has contingencies to facilitate this shift from scheduled to emergent, and to do it quickly. Moreover, it needs to happen in a way that doesn’t compromise the health, wellbeing, privacy, safety, or integrity of either party.
This example and countless other real-world, everyday situations prove the need for agility and control as the two tandem variables governing healthcare facilities. Even in non-emergent situations—such as appointment clinics—a practice’s ability to deliver the highest caliber of patient care (and remain profitable doing it), stems from agility and control.
The powerful impact of facility management
A curious thing happens in well-managed healthcare facilities: people get better, quicker. Several studies show a strong correlation between a comfortable, stress-reduced physical environment and the healing prospects of patients. One study from 2012 titled, A Healing Environment, notes the myriad of ways in which well-orchestrated facility management positively impacts patients—from indoor air quality, to room orientation, to amenity comforts, and a dozen other factors.
For patients, their families, and the healthcare staff tending them, facilities management is imperative. It improves the patient experience, which folds into the primary objective of modern facilities: to heal with compassion. Whether it’s supporting healthcare staff as they administer care or enhancing the quality of life for those recovering, facility management is an imperative focus in the modern age of healthcare administration.
Keep reading: 9 Tips for Better Healthcare Space Management