Building automation has a powerful role to play in virtually any workplace that relies on industrial controls for smoothly running operations. However, the confluence of regulatory compliance requirements, changing business models and customer expectations makes the healthcare industry a prime candidate for intelligent building automation solutions.
As with many intelligent building scenarios, automation related to HVAC has a powerful role to play. Given the varied environmental needs for patients, the ability to define and control micro-environments within a particular floor – or even wing – of a building can not only result in tremendous operational efficiency gains, but also can help make the facility more conducive to ensuring patient comfort throughout their hospital stay.
Hospital automation can create multiple micro-climates under one roof
In any given hospital, the heating and cooling requirements will vary widely based on the type of patient and/or care being given. In particularly stark example, think of the temperature control requirements for post-natal rooms versus operating rooms. At the other end of the spectrum, think of air filtration needs of a COPD patient compared to that of a heart patient. In these situations, and a myriad of other possible scenarios, the ability to adjust atmospheric conditions on a room-by-room basis from either a centralized control hub, or via mobile devices can be a powerful tool for hospital administrators and care givers.
Beyond temperature controls, fire detection and safety is a prime consideration for any hospital. The ability to detect fire dangers quickly can help to not only contain a potentially damaging event, but also mitigate the amount of smoke particles in the air. Naturally, in an environment focused on sterility, using an interconnected system of sensors to share information with HVAC systems can be a powerful selling point to healthcare facilities management stakeholders.
Differentiated patient experience a key to survival?
One of the more powerful arguments for hospital automation is that changing reimbursement models is placing more pressure on healthcare providers to deliver a differentiated care experience. Whereas in the past payment models centered on payments for procedures, increasingly payment models are evolving into payments for outcomes delivered. Along with this, patients are being given more control over their care decisions. Along with this power comes an increased expectation.
Here, building automation tools related to secure access can make a meaningful difference on a variety of fronts including, check in procedures, seamless access for family and other visitors as well as for the myriad of workers within a healthcare facility. Helping to ensure automated access for the variety of patients, workers and clinicians not only makes the facility more secure and efficient, but also makes it easier to deliver more targeted, seamless care to meet a variety of patient needs.
In any case, the sheer size of the healthcare industry in the U.S. – healthcare expenditures is expected to account for 20% of U.S. GDP by 2025 – makes the industry one of the prime targets for intelligent building solutions, as well as for the application of Industrial IoT technology in general.
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