By Rick Joslin, Senior Advisor, Healthcare Strategy & Senior Solutions Architect, Healthcare

Most healthcare use multiple software applications within their service delivery departments to manage their Environment of Care.

One application for clinical equipment (equipment/asset focused), one for environmental services (activity focused), one for facilities management (maintenance focused), etc..

With today's comprehensive Computerized Maintenance Management System or Healthcare CMMS, Healthcare Technology Management (HTM), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), and Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS), having more than one application across these service and maintenance departments is costing organizations money and reducing operating margins. Most are developed using technologies that allow integrations, mission-focused customizations, and the implementation of organizational-common data points and KPI analysis.

How did healthcare organizations arrive at such fragmented state with their maintenance and asset management software? Developing department-specific needs and increasing regulatory requirements are often primary drivers of multi-application organizations. Add competing viewpoints on how a service department should be operating and you can get multi-application installations.

So why consolidate healthcare biomed & facilities plant operations onto a single healthcare CMMS software platform?

1. Silo’d systems cost more.

It is almost always cheaper to purchase, license, implement and maintain a single healthcare CMMS software application. It is rare that you see a healthcare organization with more than one HR or purchasing program, but it is quite common for an organization to have two, three or even more software applications within their service departments.

A single platform translates into a single budget item for annualized costs (support, upgrades, licensing, etc.), lowering the internal costs of managing payments, invoices and contracts. For internally hosted software applications, an organization can quickly identify large savings by instituting a single instance of necessary hardware (application server, database server), software (operating systems, database system licensing) and management (additional IT burdens).

Just as important are the ongoing use costs. Standards change, personnel ebb and flow, and new initiatives begin. Having a consulting team provide services for all departments at once can reduce direct expenses (travel, consulting) and indirect costs (internal resources can perform internal training). These scalable costs can be quickly reduced by consolidation.

2. Improved collaboration and integration of your critical operational systems.

Collaboration between healthcare departments is critical to maintaining a safe, secure and healthy environment. When deficiencies are found, they need to be routed to the proper service department in a timely manner to ensure they are handled appropriately. Issues are found in many ways; environmental service staff may see an issue when performing their duties or organizational staff may hear or see something unusual when operating equipment. It is common for staff to submit work requests or repair tickets to the wrong service departments, starting a chain of events that can hinder their efforts.

A single healthcare CMMS platform allows these request tickets to be noted and forwarded to the proper service department with minimal effort, no data loss and little to no time lapse. This ensures proper responses to issues, the capturing and reporting of problems, and documented efforts and costs. If an organization has multiple management systems, a "process" must be developed to accomplish the above items. Often this is a paper process, increasing costs (paper, ink, time, manpower), decreasing accuracy (interpretation of issue, misspellings, incorrect data) and increasing time to correction.

When applications must be integrated to other critical business systems, the effort and costs rise in direct correlation to the number of different systems integrated. Every software application has unique a data structure, development platform and business rules that must be identified, reviewed and mapped together. A single healthcare CMMS application allows for the development, testing and implementation of a single integration. This also applies to customizations and automation improvements.

Watch our on-demand webinar, "10 Steps to Make Your Healthcare Technology and Facility Departments a Strategic Asset".

3. A single healthcare CMMS platform means consolidated analytics and reporting.

Generally, healthcare organizations measure similar, if not identical, metrics across the organization. Resource productivity, environmental summaries, labor costs, contractor/vendor costs, and risk assessments are common measurements required of all service departments. Developing and implementing these measurements is faster, cheaper and more accurate on a single software system. If it must be done on three different systems, for example, you have to create the analytics three separate times, while testing and coding them simultaneously.

Since many healthcare organizations place these service departments under a single executive, the time spent collating, reading and consuming these analytics is reduced within a single software application.

Printouts can become more familiar within a single Healthcare CMMS and Asset Management system as well. This reduces confusion when a staff member receives reports from different departments and must manually place apples with apples and oranges with oranges, especially if one department calls their oranges grapes. Standardized data, nomenclatures and basic processes greatly improve usability and decision making from Healthcare CMMS applications, leading to better decisions, lower costs and greater return on investment.

Single-system applications can also improve analyzing external costs. The ability to identify the costs of a vendor across multiple departments provides bargaining power and potential price reductions. Asset replacement and analytics (e.g.: capital asset management) become more fluid and scalable within a single application. This will lead to better replacement planning, cost negotiations and equipment usage.

4. Your system administration team can develop expertise in one system.

Today's Healthcare CMMS, coupled with rapidly changing industry and regulatory requirements, means that customers must regularly review and update data and processes within the system. A single-source platform allows an organization to develop and leverage expertise on these systems and reduce the costs of operating them by reducing the manpower needed to manage them.

Like with other critical healthcare systems (EHR, payroll, HR), service and maintenance department applications gain their highest return when regularly reviewed, improved, analyzed and maintained. Having a focused and highly trained system administration team that can work closely with decision-makers can increase team efficiency, promote near-instant data access, and enhance decision making using real-time analytics.

This team can also identify the benefits of new application features, train staff, monitor standards and identify exceptions. They usually generate needed regulatory and other data requests to increase compliance and reduce the likelihood of survey issues.

Is it time to consider consolidation?

Although most healthcare organization are still operating on multiple, silo'd applications, the benefits of moving to a single, consolidated healthcare CMMS and asset management solution far outweighs the efforts needed to transition. The depth of business changing analytics and broad-spectrum metrics means that healthcare organization decision makers can have up-to-the-minute data for successful organizational decisions. This ultimately increases the efficiency, accuracy and usability of the data being collected, and improves the safety and security of the environment of care for all users.

Learn more about a single platform for healthcare technology and maintenance management.