Space management technology is vital for digital healthcare
Healthcare providers are faced with the dual challenges of delivering care and services for their current patients while managing a backlog of patients who’s in-person appointments, surgeries, and scans were cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19.
To manage these demands, providers must optimise access to their medical practitioners, thus ensuring that patients receive the best possible care within the shortest possible wait times. One obvious way to do so is to make sure that every available space in a healthcare facility is used effectively and efficiently.
We have already seen a revolution in the healthcare sector as medical staff and patients have pivoted to using technology to book appointments online, order prescriptions, complete e-consultations, and for video conferencing. This dramatic shift accelerated when in-person appointments became impossible due to the pandemic.
But when it comes to space management, many healthcare facilities are not yet using available technologies and processes to understand how their facilities are being used.
What effective space management means for healthcare providers
Understanding exactly which space is available and how space is being used allows healthcare facilities to optimise patient services, budget more effectively, and anticipate future needs such as renovations and ambitious capital projects.
When it comes to space management, one of the biggest challenges for large healthcare providers is the variability of data gathered from a multitude of systems and in a variety of formats and different departments within the same facility will often have their own ways of managing data. For example, facilities management may work from original site plans, referring to spaces by the numbers they were assigned during the build, while clinicians may refer to room numbers, as they are used in practice to designate who is using a particular meeting room or clinic.
This multiplicity of data systems and practices within a large healthcare facility makes gathering system-wide information laborious, and reconciling diverse data is prone to human error. In fact, the process can be so time-consuming that by the time a physical space is fully catalogued, the information is already obsolete.
How technology can help overcome space management challenges
Reality capture is a tool that healthcare providers can use to overcome many challenges presented by disparate and inaccurate space data. Digital analysis of spaces and facilities provides precise dimensions and visuals that generate a truly accurate plan of the built space, eliminating discrepancies between plans. As a digital tool, reality capture can integrate new data within existing systems that everyone within an organisation can access and use. Because the resulting data reflects current reality, it is far more accurate than site maps and blueprints that may be outdated or were manually produced.
Reality capture can take place during times when healthcare settings are quietest, such as overnight, for minimal disruption to patient care. It is also possible to stagger the process, covering different sections of a hospital on different days, for example.
With reality capture technology, healthcare executives can rely on one authoritative set of accurate data, and space management becomes a far simpler process.
Adopting space management digital tools in the healthcare setting
To ensure that space data generated through reality capture is used to its fullest potential, it is vital that employee training, onboarding, and collaboration are part of the implementation process.
As with any process that brings change and transformation, employees and departments need to be brought on board from the beginning. This means that the business need for greater accuracy in space data, the improvements it will bring to decision-making, and the ways it will streamline space management and planning need to be communicated to all stakeholders from the outset. By doing this, you will bring all stakeholders along on the journey with you.
The use of reality capture has the potential to transform decision-making by providing accurate data that can be updated as change takes place, such as renovations. It also means that healthcare executives can be confident in the information they have available to them so that they, in turn, can have confidence in their space management decisions.
Carolina Nascimento, director of digital solutions at Enstoa.