Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Making the Connection: CMMS That Offer Predictive Analysis and Real-Time Response Lead the Category

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Making the Connection: CMMS That Offer Predictive Analysis and Real-Time Response Lead the Category

Article excerpt

Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) have evolved to embrace mobility, automation and connectivity within buildings with the use of smartphones and tablets. This is good news for facilities managers in their quest to improve efficiency. However, hospitals pose a challenge to manufacturers because of their highly regulated nature.

"Hospitals are more regulated than most organizations, forcing them to be more focused on compliance and reporting," says Craig Shepard, director of sales, MicroMain Corp., Austin, Texas. "They must comply with audits by regulators and be able to provide records such as asset risk assessments, statements of conditions, plans for improvement and asset history documentation to demonstrate that preventive maintenance schedules have been maintained and corrective maintenance completed."

Hospital expansion has given facilities managers a unique challenge in the implementation of CMMS as well, says Harry Kohal, vice president of business development, Eagle Technology Inc., Mequon, Wis. "Many large hospitals have added to their original buildings over time," Kohal says. "While the inside of the facilities and systems have been upgraded, the exterior of the original buildings may be buried somewhere in the mix of the additions. The varying ages of these walls can pose a problem in trying to add the next expansion."

Advanced flexibility

The "Internet of Things" is having a big impact on connecting assets to predictive maintenance in CMMS and driving more accurate, cost-effective results, experts agree. Mobility is one key area, with stronger and more flexible apps available for maintenance on-the-go. "Automation is a major focus as CMMS providers continually seek to increase efficiencies and enhance communication through automatic report generation and email notifications," says Paul Lachance, president and chief technology officer, Smartware Group, Center Harbor, N.H.

As CMMS solutions evolve, so does the CMMS footprint within a hospital. In addition to the capabilities required for building management, CMMS solutions provide functionality that spans facilities operations to other units like clinical engineering, environmental services, capital planning and information technology. "Although these groups require different skill sets, education and regulatory knowledge, they do not require multiple software solutions," says Mike Koenig, vice president of sales and marketing, TMA Systems, Tulsa, Okla.

The latest advances in CMMS often parallel two factors: software and computer hardware technology. Today's CMMS must be mobile, with applications that serve the users, who typically are technicians in the field. "The applications must evolve with health care industry requirements such as the recent alternative equipment maintenance opportunities, which allow hospital department managers to maintain equipment differently from equipment manufacturers' recommendations, provided certain decisions and processes are followed," says Ben Mannisto, CEO, Phoenix Data Systems Inc., Southfield, Mich.

Smartphone and tablet capabilities are essential to leveraging CMMS, allowing technicians to use multiple applications to expedite workflow. "By using smartphones, technicians can complete scheduled maintenance in real time, respond to unplanned requests, and use the technology to inventory, scan and bar code assets," says Brian Bell, vice president of strategy, Dude Solutions, Cary, N.C.

In fact, a mobile strategy is no longer "nice to have," but a critical part of maintenance operations, experts agree. Today's core CMMS have smartphone and tablet capabilities, which give facilities managers not only access to assets, equipment, related work orders and parts, but the ability to incorporate cameras, scanners and other key mobile features into the mix.

"Smartphone and tablet-based capabilities are important in the CMMS world because the ability to access information on-the-go is paramount, especially in the health care arena," Shepard notes. …

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