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Building analytics: The future of facility operations

April 02, 2019
From the April 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Jim Prince

“How’s it going today?”

You probably hear this question every day. While it’s a casual greeting, when coming from your hospital’s COO, they may not be just asking about you, but asking about their hospital, too. If pressed, how would you answer that question? Could you answer how your hospital is running with measurable data?

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The future of facility operations will likely involve building analytics. Each day, hospitals serve thousands of patients and visitors, control hundreds of different machines and continually support employees – all while remaining open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keeping track of operations and the functionality of your hospital is a full-time job.

As facility managers, it’s difficult to manage fully without seeing the real-time numbers of a hospital. Through building analytics, overall facility health can be controlled, managed and improved.

Facility health in three C’s
A facility’s health is no doubt top-of-mind when it comes to facility management. Unfortunately, when staff see energy personnel coming, they too often worry they’ll be strongly encouraged to dim the lights, turn the thermostat down and be forced to don sweaters and blankets. However, facility health is not about energy efficiency at all costs. Rather, it is about facility health first and foremost, especially in the healthcare environment. Facility health includes the three C’s: cost-effectiveness, compliance and comfort.

A healthy facility tends to be energy efficient, but not when facility compliance or comfort are compromised in the process. Doing something rash or uncomfortable is simply unnecessary when there are ample opportunities to improve efficiency without it. The task of every facility operations professional should be to operate a healthy facility, not just to save energy. A heavy focus on the three C’s and building analytics can provide a window into the operational challenges that facilities face each day.

The importance of building analytics
Extracting the digital data already present in a building automation system, building analytics platforms consistently monitor and constantly analyze a building’s operational data, particularly looking for those not-so-great conditions. Building analytics aim to answer the question, “Is the building doing exactly what it needs to do today?” If the answer is “no,” the building operator or facility manager needs to know before it becomes a point of concern with staff, patients or visitors. When that unsatisfactory data is found, the building analytics system pushes an alert to facilities staff to prompt their attention to the matter.

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