Standardization as a Compliance Advantage for Healthcare Facilities
You’re familiar with standardization as an efficiency tactic, but a compliance advantage? In reality, the documented impact of large-scale standardization on regulatory compliance can be dramatic.
Outcomes are no small potatoes: Better and faster decision-making. Fewer errors. Less waste in dollars, time, manpower, equipment. Fewer regulatory findings. Gaps and opportunities are readily exposed, enabling you to react faster, more efficiently and affordably.
These outcomes aren’t just well documented; they’re repeatable: We’ve seen it up close with nearly 150 facilities in just the past couple of years.
From status-quo to survey-ready standardization
Many organizations have bedrock policies — a bare minimum of standardization — but not enough that they benefit at the same level as facilities whose systems, processes, documentation and goals are in perfect alignment.
In facilities management, that alignment should include all areas that make up your facilities, from maintenance to emergency preparedness, safety, energy management, construction and more. Tactical components and tools used to manage your facilities should also be aligned, including your technologies, processes, documentation, performance metrics and reporting.
That level of standardization — the kind that enables survey-ready facilities — is big job that goes beyond just adopting the same software, vendors or processes for the sake of uniformity across the organization. Today we’ll focus on two vital components that make survey-ready standardization possible: (1) reducing your reliance on external service contracts; and (2) letting evidence drive decisions.
Let’s tackle each of those components:
>> Reducing reliance on external contracts
At many healthcare facilities, different service contractors pop in and out, using varying standards, approaches and performance metrics to serve the facility. With disparate systems and documentation, your visibility into what’s really going on in the facility is obscured, and deficiencies tend to go unnoticed longer. When they finally rise to the surface, you’re left with a limited window to correct them, strain internal teams and forcing you to spend more than you would if you’d caught the issue earlier.
It’s worth noting why external contracts are so popular in the first place: Often, they’re seen as a way for hospitals to cut costs (i.e. headcount) in the short term. More often than not, they end up hurting your revenue, efficiencies and compliance in the long run.
For one, service contracts can easily cost you twice or more what it would cost you to hire and train an employee to perform the same work (and more) in-house. Plus, external contractors often can’t respond to immediate needs and lack intimate knowledge of your facility, processes, systems, or regulatory nuances.
In-house teams, on the other hand, can contribute in areas beyond their primary job description, help off-site or affiliate facilities, mentor less experienced techs, and look at your facility with the eyes of an employee, with a sense of ownership that can’t be matched by an outsider. Regulatory documentation also becomes much easier, consistent and, well, compliant.
When you build internal capabilities and reduce your reliance on external providers, fewer mistakes slip through the cracks and you reap better outcomes in the long run.
>> Letting evidence drive decisions
One big challenge to standardization, compliance and decision-making in a healthcare facility are personal preferences: Someone favors one brand or type of equipment over another, another person swears by a process they used in a previous job, and someone else really likes the rep from vendor A who went to high school with their cousin. Those biases breed waste, errors and inconsistencies: missed opportunities, unnecessary expenses, steps or systems that end up dragging your team performance and effectiveness.
The way to counter biased-driven waste is with evidence: measuring the impact and performance of all components touching your facilities, then using that data
to steer decisions from how to spend your time and dollars to which skills to build in your team. It’s the only way to consistently avoid issue blindness
and catch hard-to-see deficiencies
before they snowball into expensive survey findings.
Your first step: a comprehensive assessment
Before you can standardize anything or even discern your next steps, you need to know where your facilities stand today.
We advocate an in-depth review of all policies, operating systems, regulatory compliance, costs and contracts to provide a current-state synopsis of your facility. It’s also important to inventory all mechanical and life-safety assets, rooms and corridors, capturing them in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
From there, you can begin the work of standardization, which should reflect the requirements and metrics a Joint Commission surveyor will look for when entering your facility.
As you well know, regulatory compliance is a moving target. So are savings, efficiencies, patient safety, and so many other goals you’re responsible for. Standardization makes everyone’s job easier, moving you closer to your goals, and enabling you to stay ahead of those moving targets.
If you are interested in having Medxcel review your healthcare organization’s current compliance position and provide a road map for remediation and survey readiness, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Medxcel Facilities Management enables healthcare providers to optimize their facility assets, systems and in-house capabilities, while reducing expenses. Built by and for healthcare, Medxcel Facilities Management’s solutions are being implemented in Ascension Health facilities nationwide.