Boost healthcare FM performance—without outsourcing

Upskilling staff can reduce healthcare facilities management costs by 12% to 18%

Hospitals and healthcare systems are facing continuing headwinds as they balance financial pressures and labor challenges with the need to ensure high-quality care. Facility operating costs are rising, while facilities management (FM) staffing shortages jeopardize the team's vital role in risk mitigation, financial performance and patient experience.

But what if you could get more out of your resources and even reduce facilities costs by 12% to 18%, all without staff replacements, reductions or outsourcing? It’s possible—with the right training and tools.

Real estate is the third-largest cost category for most healthcare systems, following labor and information technology. Yet, healthcare systems often overlook opportunities to reduce facilities costs and boost FM productivity. Investing in leading FM practices and skills development empowers your in-place FM team to save millions of dollars annually, improve safety, enhance the patient experience and boost hospital review ratings.

The first step in powering up your FM capabilities is to assess how your FM team works today. Your Performance Optimization Assessment (POA) should encompass the five critical areas of: team skills and development; compliance readiness; business intelligence and performance management; sourcing strategies; and energy and sustainability management. The following are key practices to look for across those five categories that will produce measurable FM results.

Invest in upskilling

While your FM professionals are experts in keeping your facilities operating, they may not have access to ongoing training to keep pace with new technologies and approaches that could help improve facilities performance, reduce cost and risk, and benefit patients. In addition, learning and career development opportunities can make a difference in FM talent retention and recruitment.

Upskilling is especially important when it comes to preventative maintenance strategies. Preventative, or reliability-focused, maintenance can reduce unplanned equipment failures by 17%, in turn reducing energy and maintenance costs by as much as 30%. Unlike calendar-based maintenance, preventative maintenance involves using sophisticated technologies to monitor refrigerators, imaging machines and other equipment so the FM team can prevent costly emergency repairs and replacements.

In highly decentralized FM operations, a training program can help instill system-wide standards for operations, service delivery and facility quality to provide a consistent brand experience for patients.

Investing in FM technologies and training staff to embrace them will enable you to leverage your facilities data to improve building operations and optimize the ROI of your FM technology.

Adopt always-on compliance readiness

Where facilities compliance is concerned, leading practice is to always be prepared for a visit from The Joint Commission or other accrediting or regulatory authority. However, it’s far more likely that compliance and accreditation preparation is a time-limited initiative. When the inspection date approaches, the FM team will focus on remediating items most likely to receive attention, while also juggling daily service requests.

Meanwhile, documentation of compliance activities is often available only in large paper binders, perhaps maintained by a single building engineer. Should that person retire or move to another organization, responding to regulatory inquiries will be very difficult and time-consuming.

Leading practice is to adopt always-on compliance and digitized compliance documentation that is accessible on a mobile device by authorized users. Ideally, the FM team will make regular rounds of key equipment and facility areas and maintain an always-current digital record of compliance-related checks. With the right tools and training, preparing for inspection authorities can simply become part of the daily routine for the FM staff.

Optimize with FM technologies

Almost every FM function can be accomplished more efficiently using technology. From sensors to detect burned-out light bulbs to an online platform that informs vendors when repairs are needed, technology can automate and accelerate many FM processes. In addition, automating work orders with a cloud-based mobile app can improve efficiency by 75%—and achieve as much as 238% ROI, according to a Forrester study.

To best use your FM technology, you should begin optimizing the systems you already have. Most large healthcare systems have an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) or computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), or several systems acquired through mergers and acquisitions. Yet, these powerful platforms often are underutilized and fail to deliver more than a minimal ROI.

By investing in training for adoption, you will empower your FM staff to take full advantage of your technology. With access to more streamlined workflows and real-time internal and healthcare industry facilities data, your FM teams can make better-informed decisions about how to improve facilities performance.

Centralize and streamline sourcing 

Vendor management is often a hidden source of potential savings for a healthcare organization. Often, FM procurement is managed at the facility level, making it difficult to understand total facilities vendor spend for the organization. Centralizing procurement will empower FMs to better manage their budgets.

For example, depending on the scope of your facilities network, your organization may be using 15 or 16 different vendors for janitorial, landscaping and other services or supplies. Pricing and performance standards may vary widely, and it may be difficult to compare cost and quality of vendor services across the organization.

Leading practice is to consolidate the supplier network into a vetted group of the most qualified, high-quality suppliers. Then your FM team can negotiate volume discount pricing to reduce costs across all of your facilities. In addition, your FM team can adopt a mobile CMMS that includes supplier management functionality, enabling a team member to alert a vetted vendor when work is needed, and track the project from work order through vendor payment and budget tracking.

Implement advanced energy management strategies

Typically, about one-third of the energy used by buildings is wasted through inefficient or malfunctioning equipment. Wasted energy can be significant in healthcare facilities that house energy-intensive diagnostic and treatment equipment.

Leading practice is to apply next-generation preventative maintenance techniques with sophisticated monitoring tools to keep equipment operating efficiently and to prevent failures. These measures not only extend equipment life and help ensure that the patient is always safe and comfortable, but also significantly reduce energy costs.

With the growing sophistication of smart building technologies, FMs can take energy efficiency and sustainability to new levels. By automatically capturing data related to energy and water usage, as well as waste management, an FM team can create benchmarks for tracking sustainability goals over time.

The advantages of a performance optimization program

Contrary to popular perceptions, optimizing FM performance doesn’t have to mean outsourcing or reducing your team—it means empowering your FM professionals to perform at their best. Through performance optimization, you may be surprised at how much your FM team can accomplish—and how much you can potentially save. Pinpointing $1 million in facilities operating expenditures could translate into $33 million in additional revenue. Those savings can be redirected to nurse recruitment, patient care or to investments in FM solutions that lead to further savings, more productive facilities and an improved patient experience.

Ready to assess your facilities' performance? Start the conversation with our experts here.

Case Study: 

JLL’s Performance Optimization Program allows hospitals and healthcare systems to create a vision, roadmap and detailed plan, supported by change management, to infuse their in-house FM teams with new skills, business processes and FM technologies, ensuring no jobs are outsourced or eliminated. One large healthcare organization implemented POP after several adverse facilities-related events jeopardized the system’s reputation. The Initial assessment identified and prioritized $6.7 million in savings opportunities, including savings of $1.5 million in procurement, $0.9 million in energy, $3.3 million in operations and $1 million in labor. In addition to cost savings, the POP resulted in fewer and less severe Joint Commission findings, elevated FM staff performance and capabilities, and enhanced patient safety.