As healthcare systems adapt to today’s leading
facility trends—focusing on outpatient facilities and improving
satisfaction with existing facilities—they’re finding it more
critical than ever to improve their decision-making by utilizing
strong data. Speed to market, operating savings and a strong
competitive edge are all critical in this environment, and
meeting these needs requires that real estate and facilities
professionals have a thorough understanding of their system’s
mission and their market’s needs.
was one theme underlying the Health Care Institute’s Healthcare
Real Estate conference on June 8 in Washington, D.C.
The need to improve business decisions
In the opening presentation on shifts in the
industry since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,
Mike Wood of Oldcastle and HCI president, noted that it is more
crucial than ever that health systems—and facilities
professionals—sharpen their business strategies.
As a result of ACA, Wood said, "CFOs are
watching the pot of available income shrink as the need [for
capital] goes up.” While aging infrastructure and a new need to
add buildings in the community are adding to costs, facilities
and real estate professionals are in a strong position to
provide CFOs with information that can lead to cost savings and
improved patient satisfaction.
For example, Wood noted, one downstream effect
of ACA is that every department is being pushed to be more
efficient. Facility managers are in some cases being asked to
contribute up to 30 percent reductions in operating expenses
through energy and water efficiencies.
However, it’s nearly impossible to be innovative in cost
solutions for healthcare facilities struggling to keep up with
basic maintenance, pointed out James Lee, CFO of Adventist
Healthcare, in a case study on the system’s facilities and real
Lee shared that when he joined Adventist, the
facilities department had little authority to make big change,
no standard operating procedures, and lots of projects that
never got closed out. As a result, deferred maintenance issues
accrued and building systems got little attention from the
Lee wanted to get access to capital for improvements by
implementing energy efficiency improvements that would lead to
cost savings. They began using technology to watch energy use in
real time—rather than waiting for the bill—to make instant
According to Davor Kapelina, president/CEO of
AtSite Inc., the digital domain and modern technology were key
in helping this healthcare system do more with less. He advised
listeners that it’s important to understand how to reap the
benefits of the information this technology provides. “Data is
very useful, but most of us throw it away because we don't know
how to use it," Kapelina said.
AtSite helped Adventist to put data to use by
connecting data to a building management system, and then
connecting team members to the data. Through a system of
dashboards, professionals from facilities, finance and other
areas of administration could access the same data for various
reasons. This created a conversation across the health system on
areas that needed improvement and ways to easily make necessary
changes. Data analysis led to a better use of space—15 percent
lower costs against the trend line—and efficiency projects that
have led to savings of more than $1 million annually.
"As more healthcare organizations wake up to
the reality that they can't do what they've always done in
facilities, we'll see more organizations taking approaches like
we have," Lee suggested.
Data as a driver for new facilities
Adding real estate also remains a key trend in today’s
healthcare market, noted Shannon Reber, chief growth officer for
Inova Health System, in a presentation on “What’s Hot, What’s
Not in Healthcare Real Estate”. Research has indicated that
patients are “only willing to drive ten minutes to see their
primary care physician and seven minutes to get to an urgent
care facility,” she said.
where to add new facilities is among today’s biggest challenges.
As Ron Bowlan, senior vice president of Facilities and Campus
Planning for Thomas Jefferson University & Hospital, noted in
that same presentation on real estate trends, “It's hard to
compete with the CVS pharmacies, etc., on speed to market—right
as you're signing lease for an urgent care facility, three pop
up right there.”
Fady Barmada, principal/practice leader - Asset Advisory
Services for ARRAY Architects, shared with event attendees the
benefits of using the digital domain to inform decisions on
where to add assets. By accessing detailed digital neighborhoods
maps, real estate professionals can explore where need exists
for new healthcare facilities, and predict where future need may
“Master-planning processes are great
investigations,” Barmada said. “But the information is static.
In a field that is so dynamic, master-plannings have limited
utility. Digital platforms, if set up correctly, dynamically
gather information. So as you design strategies related to
current iterations in the marketplace, the model should change
and update automatically. It’s a lot more flexible over the long
Bowlan reiterated that point when he noted that in working to
develop a campus master plan for Thomas Jefferson, he has begun
using digital tools to identify patterns in where they may be
duplicating services, and where services might need to be added.
“We’re starting to use these heat maps but find the dots keep
changing colors on us,” he noted, a point to how rapidly the
market can change.
"Speed to market is
almost everything right now," Barmada agreed. “What's holding
healthcare systems up is that these decisions are fraught with
risk. What helps organizations move faster in the marketplace is
to understand the inputs and potential repercussions of
potential decisions by conceptualizing the data and creating
platforms that helps them to scenario-test.”
key takeaways from this event.
to learn about HCI events coming up in your region.