Guest Column | December 19, 2018

3 Ways IoT Improves Retail Healthcare Clinic Facility Management

By Tom Buiocchi, ServiceChannel

Field Service IoT

It almost goes without saying that healthcare clinics house complex equipment that must always function correctly in order to provide excellent patient care. Asset uptime and customer experience in healthcare are not “nice to have” measures – it can mean the difference between sickness and health or something even worse.

Internet of Things (IoT) technology has the potential to dramatically improve asset management and uptime by infusing unprecedented levels of automation and real-time visibility. With internet-connected assets, power users such as facilities management will get unprecedented visibility into the equipment and maintenance ecosystem. In addition to improving convenience and efficiency, IoT-enabled equipment will result in lower costs and reduce workload for on-site personnel, since they no longer need to identify and troubleshoot issues themselves.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how IoT technology can be used to improve facility management processes, and thereby patient care:

1. Effective Asset Management

Retail healthcare clinics utilize a variety of equipment, from the standard HVAC unit to advanced medical equipment like X-ray machines and MRI systems, which require specific processes to repair and maintain. If these assets are IoT-enabled, they automatically alert FMs when functionality is deteriorating and requires attention before a costly breakdown. Sophisticated IoT systems can even generate work orders automatically if they detect that equipment needs servicing.

This leads to greater operational efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and higher-quality patient care. Key equipment issues are addressed promptly so availability does not impact required service delivery.

IoT also can be used to control equipment to improve efficiency and reduce human error. For example, internet-connected refrigerators and freezers automatically regulate temperatures to ensure blood samples, medications, and other materials are kept at the correct temperature.

In addition, chips can be placed in packages as medication enters the building, and then near field communication (NFC) devices can track the location, temperature and humidity of medications over time while they are being transported. If IoT devices are strategically located across the facility, they can detect and read sensor data from the chips to ensure the medication was not exposed to degrading conditions.

2. More Secure Facilities

Facility managers are responsible for keeping both patients and costly equipment safe, at all times. IoT technology can enhance facility security by making it easier to track what and who is coming in and out of the clinics and when.

IoT-connected medical facilities are also able to keep track of where equipment is within the building and locking down if unauthorized assets venture too close to exits. This method prevents equipment theft and alerts building managers if there are asset security concerns, whether they are physically on-site at that time or not.

In addition to asset and material tracking, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology also can be used to authenticate users at retail health facilities. Managers can authorize NFC tags for approved entry or exit at specific times and locations, which makes it easier to keep unauthorized visitors out.

3. Optimized FM Workflows

Having facility management operations connected to the Internet of Things means that the network is constantly collecting, storing and analyzing facilities data. This data can be translated into trends, patterns and insights through analytics.

Retail healthcare FMs can leverage facilities management analytics to get enhanced visibility into equipment, spend, contractor performance, sustainability, and work orders.

With access to key data insights, facility managers are able to make data-backed decisions that will boost efficiency, reduce spend and improve contractor performance. If there are bottlenecks leading to higher costs or inefficient processes, FMs can identify solutions and set KPIs for IoT to track progress automatically.

Final Thoughts

IoT technology is still in the early stages, and its capabilities will continue to expand. It’s crucial that retail healthcare FMs keep abreast of new developments to ensure that their facilities are always taking advantage of the most advanced technology.

Make sure the facilities management platform is based on an open architecture, to enable the IoT-connected devices coming to healthcare market. IoT adoption may require time, resources, and growing pains, but this technology can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FM programs, thereby reducing costs and improving the patient experience.

Download our Industry Insight Report and learn how to best manage your retail healthcare locations.

About The Author

Tom Buiocchi joined ServiceChannel as an Executive Director in 2014. Tom has more than 30 years of experience leading growth companies in both technology and energy services, including Drobo (CEO), Brocade Communications (CMO), Rhapsody Networks (VP Marketing), FMES (cofounder and COO), and Hewlett-Packard. Tom has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Union College and a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.