Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations, Security

AI in Healthcare Facilities Management

Technology seems to advance at an hourly pace these days, with generative artificial intelligence (AI) seeing a significant uptick in use this year. Free and open tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard have shown how generative AI can be used for learning, content generation, coding, and other tasks. This has prompted many industries and organizations to learn how AI can best benefit their operations and evaluate how they can also protect their proprietary data.

The healthcare industry and the facilities within it are no different, yet they face higher scrutiny and security concerns. Healthcare facilities have the opportunity to increase efficiencies in equipment maintenance, optimize resource allocation, and more. The industry must move cautiously and deliberately, however. A recent MITRE-Harris Poll survey found that less than 40% of U.S. adults believe today’s AI technologies are safe and secure. A majority of those surveyed also said they were more concerned than excited about AI. It’s imperative that leaders have a full understanding of the opportunities and potential impacts AI solutions present, particularly as the public’s trust in AI is declining.

Before healthcare facilities can consider implementing AI into their workflows, there are three key questions we need to ask and have answers to:

1. What policies are in place to safeguard confidential information when using AI?

When integrating any new technology, we need to ensure guardrails are in place to define proper use and mitigate potential risks. One issue organizations must keep top of mind when relying on public AI solutions to analyze their information is privacy. When information is entered into public-facing AI tools, it is no longer secure. Organizations are responsible for implementing AI-usage policies to ensure internal or confidential information does not get into the wrong hands.

Fortunately, open AI is not the only type of AI out there. Organizations can leverage private and secure generative AI solutions that meet specific business needs. This is a much more palatable approach for organizations to gain the advantages of AI technology.

2. How will employees be trained to use AI technology?

In order to ensure success, employees need to be properly trained to use the tools appropriately and effectively. Before we can gain real value from AI solutions, everyone in the organization needs to understand how to apply AI-generated insights to support their work. Rather than taking over job functions, AI technology increases efficiency by automating certain tasks to help employees make better-informed decisions. The assistance we receive from AI should always be validated and interpreted in the context of human experience and personal judgment.

3. What value will teams and facilities gain from AI capabilities?

AI can review and analyze more data more quickly than a human ever could. For equipment maintenance needs, AI can analyze a piece of equipment’s historical maintenance records, known issues on a model number, and an index of warranty and product information in moments. With this information, generative AI can then offer a diagnosis or predictive insight for teams to consider for application. AI can also provide important insight to extend the lifespan of equipment by streamlining preventative maintenance.

By supporting analysis and administrative tasks, AI tools give employees more time to dedicate to other parts of their jobs that AI cannot do, such as actually performing the maintenance needed.

AI doesn’t just analyze equipment data. It can “read” safety manuals, organizational emergency operations, and even employee handbooks. With generative AI, employees can ask the tool to help them find relevant and specific information from safety manuals that can be hundreds of pages long.

For example, they can ask the tool about a specific fire regulation code and procedure, and the AI will go through the manual and provide a plain-language summary and a citation of where it found each piece of information. Employees can then review the information and move on with their tasks, rather than flipping or scrolling through manuals just to find a couple of paragraphs of information.

As AI develops at a rapid pace, healthcare organizations may be able to integrate these new technologies to increase efficiencies within the facilities services environment. There are a number of opportunities to explore, but do so with caution. It is imperative leaders are able to identify the difference between popular trends with little longevity and operational solutions with tangible, long-term value.

AI is a promising tool that possesses the capability to elevate the human work experience by streamlining administrative tasks to allow employees to focus on more demanding tasks. With the right solution, the right guardrails, and the right timing, AI has the potential to meet specific business needs and drive efficiencies across the healthcare industry.

JD Duigou is the chief information officer of Medxcel, an integrated facilities management organization with a sole focus on healthcare. With over 20 years of IT experience, he is also a member and participant in several industry organizations, including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and itSMF USA.

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