By Dave Clifton
Modern hospitals are a living ecosystem of data exchange. From medical devices to manual input, real-time data is crucial to deliver the best level of patient care. It’s also important for coordinating facilities, to enable that care. Hospital FMs work behind the scenes to ensure facilities support the caregivers and patients relying on them. They’re looking at a bevy of hospital facility reporting metrics to make sure they’re hitting targets.
With so much data streaming around hospitals, it’s important for facility managers to pare down the most vital metrics and focus on those. This isn’t to say that all data doesn’t play a role in better facilities management—some metrics are just more timely, succinct, and insightful than others. Here’s a look at five of them, what they mean, and how to learn from them.
1. Bed availability and utilization
A hospital has a finite capacity for treatment, usually measured in beds. Hospital facilities reporting at the local, state, and federal levels focus on available beds as a way to measure their real-time capacity for caregiving. Typically, it’s a one-to-one ratio, one bed to one patient. This makes it the base measurement for hospital space utilization.
Knowing how many available beds a hospital currently has provides a baseline for establishing everything from admittance procedure to resource allocation. This was especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, when hospitals reached critical mass. It’s vital for facility managers to establish this metric and use it to inform space-related decisions in real-time.
2. Floor staffing and float
Not everyone comes to the hospital for the same thing, which makes staffing levels important to consider. How many nurses are in first-floor urgent care vs. third floor oncology? Where are the ultrasound machines within the context of facilities? What’s the bed utilization rate on floor five vs. floor six, and what resources are in proximity?
How you staff floors and allocate equipment depends on the real-time demands of facilities. If your nurse-to-patient ratio is 1:5 in one area and 3:5 in another, you need to know so you can adjust. The same goes for equipment allocation. If something is idle on one floor and in demand on another, it’s critical to adjust. This is often why hospitals operate a float pool. Good facilities management helps staff utilize that float better.
3. Asset uptime and utilization
Hospital facility reporting software with features to track assets can make a huge difference for hospitals. Why has echocardiogram machine 01 performed three times more scans than any other unit in the fleet? When is the CAT scan machine due for calibration? What’s the average time for each x-ray appointment? These asset-related questions and countless others need data-backed answers. Tracking asset uptime and utilization metrics provides necessary insight.
These metrics are important not only from a cost standpoint, but from an operational one, as well. When you know where assets are, how they’re used, and what condition they’re in, it’s easy to adopt a preventive and proactive maintenance approach, instead of a reactive one.
4. Mean time to repair
Better known in the world of manufacturing, mean time to repair (MTTR) is really an asset efficiency metric. If you’re using CMMS reporting software for hospitals, it’s an easy metric to find and one that’s worth looking into regularly. Hospitals can’t afford downtime for critical equipment. Monitoring MTTR helps facilitate a better maintenance approach.
When you consider the cost and importance of imaging machines, radiography equipment, laboratory equipment, and countless other devices, MTTR becomes a very important metric. How quickly you’re able to resolve problems and address the maintenance needs of equipment has a direct impact on everything from patient care to patient experience.
5. Utilization efficiency
Utilization efficiency metrics apply to every asset, resource, room, and person within the hospital environment. Where are you operating at critical capacity on a consistent basis? What resources go underutilized? How often are there conflicts over spaces and equipment? Examine utilization efficiency metrics to spot where adjustments could improve the efficiency of hospital operations. Then, build in new best practices, processes, and governance philosophies to bring balance to facilities.
All metrics matter in a hospital environment
Why these five metrics over others? Because they represent some of the simplest, most valuable data about hospital facilities. Without bed availability and room utilization stats, you can’t know whether you’re treating patients efficiently. Without access to staffing and float data, it’s difficult to manage medical personnel. Asset metrics and MTTR cover the many important pieces of equipment that make the hospital environment go round. Above all, utilization efficiency helps you make sure you’re helping people in whatever way they need it.
Hospital FMs need to track a broad scope of facilities data. At the core are these five metrics, and they have the power to drive significant, positive improvements in the way hospitals operate.