COVID-19 has created a variety of challenges for hospitals and healthcare facilities, but one of the more unexpected ones is shrinking budgets, and maintenance departments are now being asked in the middle of a pandemic to cut costs. It's a complex problem, and there's no one perfect answer, but CMMS software can be a big part of the solution.
A bit more background on the shrinking budgets at hospitals.
Treating COVID-19 patients is expensive. It requires specialized personal protection equipment (PPE), sophisticated machines, and highly trained medical professionals, but these additional costs are only part of the problem. There's also the loss of revenue from postponed elective surgeries, which many institutions rely on to stay in the black.
Some hospitals have been laying off medical staff during the pandemic while others have been closing permanently. According to one industry news outlet, more than 100 hospitals have sent home tens of thousands of medical staff. According to the head of the American Hospital Association, loses are as high as $50 billion a month.
As a result, hospitals need every department to cut costs. Maintenance departments have always been looking for ways to increase efficiency and control spending, but COVID-19 has turned up the pressure.
Let's look at how CMMS software helps maintenance managers at hospitals take control of their operations and cut costs.
Find small issues efficiently, avoid big problems altogether with CMMS software for hospitals
The best time to fix a problem is when it's still just a little issue. But it's impossible to find everything on your own; you need help for staff across departments. As soon as someone notices the elevator door is sticking on the fifth floor, you need them to tell you. As soon as someone notices the door to one of the x-ray rooms is not closing tightly, you need them to contact you right away.
But contacting the maintenance department might be difficult. First, people have to track down your phone number or email address. And when they leave a voice mail or send an email, they have to guess the information you need to fix the issue. Often, they guess wrong, and then you have to track them down to get clarification. Which elevator and on what floor was it sticking? Was it the x-ray room on the sixth floor or the smaller one down on the third? When they forget to include their name or contact information, following up becomes impossible.
CMMS software (also known as EAM software) makes the whole process much easier. First, hospital staff can quickly log into the online portal and submit a maintenance request. Because the form has predetermined fields, people know what information to include. And because the CMMS tracks everything, you know exactly who submitted each request. Through the CMMS, you can then reach out and let them know if their request has been approved.
How does this cut costs? Solving small issues is always cheaper than dealing with large problems. The earlier you fix something, the less it's going to cost.
Add comments and pictures to work orders with CMMS software for hospitalsOnce a request has been approved, you can generate a work order and assign it through the CMMS. Unlike traditional paper- and spreadsheet-based systems, you can pack a lot of information into each work order, including:
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
- Digital images, schematics, and O&M manuals
- Associated parts and materials
A good CMMS even has interactive floor and site maps, ensuring technicians get where they're needed right away. Even with all those different colored lines painted along the floors and walls, or maybe because of them, it's still easy to get lost in most hospitals without help. And technicians arrive with everything they need to close out efficiently. They never have to run back to the office to grab a manual or a part they didn't know they needed.
When there are questions, work orders create a fast, dependable channel of communication between technicians and maintenance leads. With the ability to add comments to individual tasks inside the work order, technicians can describe the work they're doing, explain delays, or reach out with questions.
task comments keep everyone in the loop
Technicians can also attach pictures to the work order to confirm everything has been done properly. Good CMMS software offers a lot of customization, and the software can be set up so that only the maintenance lead can officially close out a work order. Techs can upload pictures for review, and when they're satisfied, they can close out the work order.
How does this save money? Making technicians more efficient boosts time on wrench, delivering more focused, direct work per hour.
So far, we've looked at how maintenance management software supports the workflow for on-demand work orders. But maintenance follows the same logic as medicine: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Schedule and track preventive maintenance with CMMS software for hospitals
Even with an easy and reliable way for people to reach you with maintenance requests, you still need a preventive maintenance schedule. It's the best way to increase uptime and decrease unscheduled downtime.
And at hospitals, unscheduled downtime should be avoided at all costs. What are often quality of life issues in other industries can become questions of life and death in a hospital. Take the elevator as an example. When the elevator stops working in an office building, productivity suffers. People waste time and energy walking up and down the stairs. Employees on higher floors might give up on getting to their offices completely, and relocate to the lobby coffee shop. At a hospital, a broken elevator means a critical patient cannot be transported to the operating room. There's no easy way to get someone up the stairs in a gurney.
CMMS software makes setting up, running, and tracking a preventive maintenance program much easier. Once the PMs are in the system, the software sends you reminders before they're due. And because the PMs include associated parts and materials, you can make sure you have everything you need for when work is due. No more rush delivers for parts and materials. CMMS software makes it easy set up a new preventive maintenance program, and it also makes it easy to improve and adapt an existing one. Inside the database is a detailed record for each asset, including complete maintenance and repair histories. Departments can leverage that data to fine-tune their schedules. For example, if the sensor on the automatic doors by the emergency room has gone out of alignment three times in the last month, the maintenance department can set a new PM to check it once a week.
Avoid costly compliance issues with CMMS software for hospitals
Medicine is a highly regulated industry, and hospitals need to stay compliant to avoid expensive fines. Compliance has two parts. The first is getting the right work done on time. The second is proving you got the right work done on time. Modern CMMS software helps with both. By increasing efficiency and ensuring nothing slips through the cracks, the software makes it a lot easier to get all the required tasks completed. And then it helps you prove you were in compliance by collecting, protecting, and crunching all your operational data for you.
Traditional paper- and spreadsheet-based systems are cumbersome and prone to error. With paper, data collection is tedious. Everything has to be written out on easy-to-lose pieces of paper. With spreadsheets, it's a bit easier to type in the data, but then it's also easier to make a mistake. Copy and paste one time into the wrong cell and you've corrupted the entire file. Modern CMMS software keeps everything in one central database, which it then updates automatically in real-time. It does all the collecting and remembering for you. And because it already has all the data, it can auto-generate reports for you, crunching your numbers into easy-to-understand KPIs and graphs.
Reports help you prove compliance, but they also deliver important insights into the department's spending. And the first step to controlling your budget is knowing where the money is going. Backed by hard numbers, you can make important decisions on how to allocate labor, which vendors to use, and when to replace assets instead of repairing them.
Cut maintenance costs, not quality with CMMS software for hospitals
COVID-19 is creating new pressures for hospitals, and budgets are getting tighter. CMMS software can help maintenance departments increase efficiency and cut costs, but only when they choose the right provider.
Early in the process, it's a good idea to reach out and talk with providers directly. They're a great source of information and insights; no one knows the CMMS industry as well as the people who develop and provide the software. When speaking with providers, make sure to ask questions about training and support. Remember, modern CMMS software uses the subscription model, which means you're in an ongoing relationship with your provider. You want to find someone who's as invested in your long-term success as you are.