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Almost a month ago, many of you were at the American Society of Engineers 2022 Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition in Boston (https://www.ashe.org/). The ASHE Annual Conference is always a wealth of information and a great chance to gain CECs. Out of all the amazing speakers and topics, I came away with 5 repeated themes from the conference and what they may mean for you as you soon head into 2023. Here's my top five key takeaways in priority order.
1. Software Development
Access to software to increase efficiencies was much more readily available this year. Work orders programs were the main software programs discussed. More specifically, work orders programs that were on a larger platform with all the other needed facility management programs built-in. A streamlined, single platform was the most common need mentioned instead of learning 5 different programs. One company that could do it all! Training staff on one platform instead of multiple platforms would expedite staff training. Plus, one software implementation versus multiple would be a game changer and major cost savings.
I was also part of many discussions with facility directors who indicated their current programs were failing to meet their needs. The resounding theme was wanting to increase their software capabilities exponentially. Many of the directors indicated that they need more out of their programs to stay up with increasing regulations, plus provide operational and financial projections.
2. Staff Recruitment and Retention
This was a topic last year and continues to be a concern. Many facilities are having a hard time filling leadership positions when senior leadership are retiring. The problem seems that younger generations are either interested in different trades or feel they are inexperienced after realizing the breadth of knowledge needed to oversee compliance or experience the tedious process of survey preparation. Some hospitals are finding as soon as a new hire experiences a survey or mock survey process, they are leaving to go back to their original trade. As a result, many facilities are being forced to reach outside of healthcare and hire individuals that have some facilities’ background but no hospital experience whatsoever.
3. Accrediting Agencies & CMS Advocacy for Facilities
Healthcare engineers are noticing an increase in findings during surveys and the findings are out of the scope of the original interpretation. The main frustration was surveyors are taking it upon themselves to NOT survey to the regulatory guidelines and reach out of the means of the standard to have a finding in their report. Additionally, facility directors felt with the regulatory aspects only increasing, there has not been any advocacy for the facilities from their facility's contracted accrediting agencies.
4. Water Management Plan
Confusion still seems to abound with the water management plan! Unfortunately, vendors within this field are part of the problem. Many vendors were promoting products as a requirement of ASHRAE 188 but were not able to speak to the guidelines whatsoever. I personally spoke with 2 vendors at the conference selling commercial filters that indicated it was meeting the requirements but did not even know what ASHRAE 188 was! There is also still confusion between ASHRAE 188 and the Joint Commission's new EC standards on the plan. My recommendation is to follow one or the other, but remember the 188 guidelines are more stringent.
5. Sustainability and Energy Conservation
With the increased focus on electric vehicles and sustainability, hospitals are being asked how they can play a part in reducing their carbon footprint. Hospitals utilize a large amount of energy and water to operate. While we are making great strides in some areas, unfortunately, this area is still evolving for the healthcare community. Sustainability and energy conservation are going to be a subject talked about for many years. Within hospitals, the desire to reduce footprints has not kept up with the physical science to back up this desire. Since hospitals have certain requirements to ensure patient safety, air pressures, lighting, temperatures, and water usage, it is somewhat counterintuitive to the reductions within energy needs. There is some hope though, that within the next 5 to 10 years, we should see a major turn as healthcare industry becomes a leader in some areas of sustainability and energy conservation.
With the introduction of COVID-19, many healthcare facility areas that were originally deemed prepared for a pandemic outbreak were not as equipped as initially thought.
December 6, 2020
Presenters: Lance Wolf, Jason Piper, Phil Shuman, and Paul Wetzel
April 21, 2021
Speakers Include: Lance Woolf - MBA, CHSP, Former Joint Commission Surveyor & Director of Life Safety Compliance at Soleran, Billy Kinch - Lead Facility Specialist at CIHQ, Taylor Vaughn - Facility Manager at Children's Health Dallas
May 12, 2022
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