By Michael Marsh
Increasingly, hospitals and healthcare networks recognize that real estate is itself part of the patient and visitor experience, and that it affects patient outcomes. And, as the third-highest cost on the balance sheet, facilities also represent an opportunity for cost savings. In search of new approaches to reducing facilities costs, mitigating risks and enhancing the patient experience, Methodist Health System recently announced a new partnership with JLL for integrated facility management (IFM) services.
Methodist Health is one of many hospitals and health networks exploring IFM partnerships today. The fact is, hospitals and healthcare network executives are being stretched thin by competing industry demands. Complex and evolving regulations, rising costs, industry consolidation and the increased pressure to improve patient outcomes are just some of the challenges.
Accessing these benefits is what motivated Methodist Health System to engage JLL as its IFM partner. Specifically, the partnership is focused on Methodist’s three priorities of reducing costs; supporting regulatory compliance and an optimal care environment; and achieving operational excellence. JLL is providing IFM services to four Methodist Health System hospitals totaling 4.1 million square feet, located throughout North Texas. The services include everything from security and maintenance to capital planning and IFM technology implementation.
Most important is patient safety and the environment of care. By applying best practices to the management of air handling systems, sanitation and other aspects of IFM, JLL is instrumental in the control of infectious disease.
One important step toward patient safety was JLL’s recommendation and implementation of an automated compliance platform to ensure record-keeping and alignment with the Joint Commission. JLL also recommended and implemented a computerized maintenance and management system (CMMS) that automates work-order management and provides applications for measuring and managing nearly every aspect of Methodist Health’s facilities.
By implementing a CMMS, Methodist Health now can provide more responsive IFM services for occupants, while creating a database of critical facilities data for use in decision-making. For example, the facilities data may indicate that a particular piece of building equipment constantly requires adjustment and repair. Rather than continuing to spend on maintenance, the IFM team could investigate the root cause and determine a solution.
As a JLL partner, Methodist Health also has gained access to a benchmarking database of facilities data gleaned from JLL’s work with more than 500 hospitals nationwide. Benchmarking enables the IFM team to see where improvements might be possible based on the experiences of other healthcare facilities. For example, benchmarking might indicate Methodist Health spends significantly more—or significantly less—on energy than comparable institutions in the region. If energy expense is above average, the IFM can take action to improve efficiency.
The IFM team also has been laser-focused on savings opportunities, achieving its contractual one-year savings goal within a fast two months. One strategy was to determine whether the IFM team could perform some tasks more cost-effectively than outside contractors. Another strategy was preventive maintenance, in which the IFM adopts best practices for anticipating and preventing building equipment failures. Unlike reactive maintenance, preventive maintenance prolongs equipment life and prevents system failures that can disrupt patient care.
Methodist also is benefiting from JLL’s centralized procurement function. With global negotiating power and access to thousands of vendors, JLL is helping Methodist secure volume discounts on everything from elevator maintenance and landscaping to parts and a wide range of facilities equipment and supplies.
Partnering with a qualified, proven FM service provider often proves to be the most efficient way to reduce operating costs while enhancing patient outcomes. Furthermore, partnering with a leading FM service provider means access to a deep bench of expertise and leading technologies, along with best practices that improve quality while reducing cost and mitigating risk. Also important, an IFM partnership enables a healthcare organization is free to focus on its core competency of patient care.
In the bigger scheme of things, the major benefits to Methodist Health System are greater efficiency and an improved ability to enhance comfort and trust among patients and visitors. For any healthcare provider, the physical environment of care affects patient wellbeing, and the ability of the caregiver team to deliver the best possible patient outcomes. Through an IFM partnership, Methodist Health is not just surviving, but thriving.
Michael Marsh is Managing Director of the South Central Region for Healthcare Solutions, JLL