Maintenance and Operations, Safety

Should Healthcare Facilities Adopt New Risk Management Tools?

Is your healthcare facility still using a paper-based system for risk management and compliance? It’s time to join the digital age!

Compliance and risk management are crucial behind-the-scenes programs in healthcare facilities. But their success depends on accurate, accessible, and organized records. Three-ring binders crammed with pages of printouts or handwritten reports just can’t cut it anymore.

You wouldn’t be impressed by having to pay by check at your favorite store. Or rifling through a file cabinet to find your gym membership form every time you check in at the gym. From shopping to banking, nearly everything is digital—and it’s digital for a reason: because it’s better than paper.

Hospitals are using electronic systems for patient health records and billing. So why aren’t you using appropriate digital tools for managing the healthcare facilities themselves?

There’s too much riding on healthcare compliance and risk management to rely on outdated methods. Implementing modern solutions improves data accuracy, increases speed and efficiency, and streamlines all of facilities management.

3 Areas Where Paper-Based Systems Fall Flat

The most significant aspects of compliance are the inspection, maintenance, and updates of your physical assets. If you’re still dependent on traditional systems, you’re going to run into trouble when faced with:

  • Tracking in-house inspections, including large facility systems like HVAC and smaller pieces of essential equipment like wheelchairs. Inspections must be annotated and maintained so any inspector will have a clear picture of facility compliance.
  • Connecting with third parties who are brought in to support the inspection process and often maintain assets using stacks of printed documentation and binders.
  • Documenting audits to be sure that all inspection checklists and work orders are accurate so you can prove compliance.

Data Management: the No. 1 Challenge in Compliance

Data and record management is the biggest challenge for healthcare facility compliance programs. You have to be able to collect, track, store, retrieve, and report on every little detail of your physical assets.

Without a central, standard, accessible data management platform, you’re stuck sorting through paper records, spreadsheets, or outdated systems. The information you need may be missing or incomplete. It’s hugely time consuming and frustrating.

Old-fashioned data management can result in wasted time, money, and staff resources. It also comes with some pretty sizable risks:

  • Data quality plummets as sharing information held in physical records becomes increasingly challenging.
  • Teams get bogged down wading through complicated procedures and compliance operations as each procedure has different tracking requirements tied to different process checklists.
  • Your bottom line suffers because of less-than-optimal processes or surprise budgetary needs brought on by a last-minute failed inspection.

3 Ways to Improve Healthcare Compliance and Risk Management

Optimizing your existing workflows and taking a proactive approach are the best initial steps in making lasting change. Here are a few methods that can make this more manageable.

Initiate proactive compliance with a PDCA cycle: The Plan-Do-Check-Act, or PDCA cycle, is a four-step process that can be repeatedly implemented across different compliance and risk mitigation processes.

Leverage a single source of truth model: A single source of truth (SSOT) model is the best practice for larger operations or facilities that use several groups for compliance. Implementing an SSOT model is not a specific tool or system but rather a method of managing information so that it can all be accessed from a single point.

Use digital twin technology: Digital twins create a comprehensive schematic of all the assets within a facility and their related information. Leveraging this technology makes it much easier to manage compliance and inspections across an entire healthcare facility. Access to a complete map of all physical assets dramatically reduces time spent on in-house inspections. In addition, it allows outside vendors to quickly understand the location and status of your equipment.

Digital Facilities Management Systems May Be the Answer

Hawkeye has trick arrows. Captain America has his shield. Having the right tools for the job is essential. And now there are powerful digital solutions to help you be a facilities management hero. Let’s explore how modern methods and tools are streamlining healthcare compliance and risk management.

Life safety assets: It’s important for facilities teams to have an accurate inventory of life safety assets as well as a strategic repair and maintenance plan. The right software can not only help maintain asset performance and extend equipment life cycles, but can also reduce time and labor costs.

Medical compliance: Manual inspection reporting procedures can mean poor performance due to an inability to identify and address failures. Use facility management software to improve workforce efficiency and decrease the risk of omission.

Large amounts of capital equipment (capital management): Instead of relying on old, static FCA reports, a facility software solution can help you leverage real-time condition and risk data. This makes for more precise capital planning, including more reliable lifecycle projections, more accurate deferred maintenance, and a better way to balance budget deficits.

BIM/Revit digital twin maintenance: The right software should be built around a digital twin of your facilities. Blueprints can quickly become outdated. A good management program can contain a current capture of your facility, allowing you to work with a fully accurate digital rendition of your facility as it exists today.

Dated technology: Say goodbye to paper-based processes, more work, and slow operations. Implementing software gives field teams access to the accurate information they need and offers leadership teams clarity into operations so they can easily identify key information to support crucial decision making.

Poor data fidelity: Lack of accurate, digital information can create liability risks, mistakes, and potentially poor decisions. The right software solution can not only provide an accurate map of your buildings and its key assets, but also a quickly accessible storage repository of relevant documents related to those assets—all up-to-date across all touchpoints.

Inspection reporting: Instead of a complicated, paper-based compliance process, use a solution that can generate simple reports for inspections and compliance. This way, there’s less chance of losing a key document during an inspection, and you can more easily manage compliance overall.

Top 3 Benefits of Facilities Management Software

1. Break Down Data Silos

Location-based asset mapping makes it easy to protect institutional knowledge and avoid catastrophic mistakes.

A management system builds everything you need to complete inspections into a single platform, creating a single source of truth and a digital audit trail that is always current. All files are associated with assets to provide a single repository for every piece of maintenance data. As a result, your teams can spend more time completing inspections and getting ahead on maintenance instead of searching for printed checklists and documents.

2. Streamline Inspection Processes

Facility inspections are never “done.” Whether standards require daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly inspections, they demand ongoing attention. A facilities management system streamlines inspections and creates a digital audit trail that increases your compliance confidence.

A good software platform clarifies what needs to be done and when. Management can view real-time dashboards to understand the status of inspections across teams. Implementing a fully digital inspection program eliminates the need to print, file, copy, and physically locate paperwork. Having this single source of truth provides a digital audit trail for inspections that can be easily exported without sifting through binders. 

3. Reduce Risk with Proactive Maintenance

One of the best ways to manage risk is to get ahead of problems before they become bigger problems. Teams no longer have to rely on paperwork to understand the status of facilities or determine which assets need attention because they didn’t pass inspection. Instead, digitized records and location-based asset mapping create a single source of truth that makes it easier to maintain facilities.

Comprehensive dashboards prioritize work orders based on need. With a complete view of all work order requests, facility teams can prioritize urgent requests, keep up with standard maintenance, and get ahead with preventative work. 

Better Data Management Is the Key to Better Compliance

Ensuring your facilities remain compliant is an ongoing process that demands easily accessible records full of accurate data. If your team is struggling with your current system, it’s time to upgrade. The best compliance solutions start with proven organizational methods designed to improve workflow and take the pain out of the audit process. With a modern solution at your disposal, your team has the freedom to respond and collaborate quickly to resolve compliance and risk problems.

Have you signed up for the upcoming Facilities Management Compliance Week, an online event running Jan. 17-Jan. 21? AkitaBox is a sponsor and will be presenting an educational session, titled “Improving Compliance & Risk Management,” on Jan. 19. More info and FREE registration are available here.

Josh Lowe is Co-founder and Chief Solution Engineer of AkitaBox. With a degree in architecture, a background in construction, and a penchant for pushing the boundaries of new technologies, Lowe literally helped write the book on Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a contributing author to “Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture: 2011 & 2012” and has consulted on several BIM and facility management technologies. In 2016, he co-founded AkitaBox, a SaaS application for proactive building management.