Estates and Facilities Management (EFM) is an important part of a local council and other public sector organisations such as libraries and colleges. It is also a non-clinical arm of a hospital and most private sector companies have an EFM team. The responsibility of the EFM team is to constantly maintain excellent standards and quality of facilities used by patients, the public and staff.

Specifically, these include the maintenance of (applicable across all types of organisations):

  • Building facilities: ranging from the building itself to the lift service, air conditioning/ventilation, lighting, energy and maintenance of similar utilities.
  • Car park servicing.
  • Catering: Meeting patient dietary requirements.
  • Infection control: Maintaining cleanliness in all areas.
  • Maintenance of telecommunications.
  • Pest control.
  • Grounds maintenance: maintaining good standards of horticulture.
  • Maintenance of other clinical and non-clinical hospital equipment such as sterilisers.
  • Postal maintenance (incoming and outgoing mail).
  • Laundry and linen: ensuring clean supplies and efficient cleaning schedules for patient and staff attire.
  • Plumbing.

Work in these areas is conducted on a specific time-basis, known as “planned preventative maintenance”. (PPM) Such checks enable EFM teams to plan relevant maintenance and works activity. Patients, staff, visitors and the general public are invited and encouraged to cite and make EFM teams aware of faults that may occur between PPM jobs. Work based on public input is known as “reactive maintenance requests.” (RMR)

The importance of EFM

Clearly, EFM is important. It is imperative that an EFM team is running at optimal efficiency. If this is not the case, it can result in potential serious danger for patients, public and staff.

Operating at optimal efficiency begins with managing data quickly and accurately. Data collection requirements for an EFM team are high because collectively RMR and PPM can result in up to 18,000 different repair/maintenance jobs. All instances of enquiries need to be recorded as well as a record of all jobs completed and the outcomes of each job.

To put it into context, the outcome of each file alarm needs to be recorded, whether it was an actual fire or a false alarm. Let’s take a look at a near comprehensive list of data collection needs, applicable to public, private sector and the NHS:

  • Laundry and linen services cost.
  • Contracted out services cost.
  • EFM staff cost.
  • Cleaning services cost.
  • Total meal cost per patient.
  • Risk factors of buildings.
  • Total electricity output.
  • Energy consumed vs energy cost.
  • Water cost.
  • Total waste.
  • Car parking (disabled space available etc.)

Manually recording and logging this data into systems and databases is extremely time consuming, laborious and error prone. Having accurate data available quickly is imperative for EFM departments because it means they can analyse the data at an earlier stage and identify areas of inefficiencies, which can be addressed. As a result, potentially significant cost savings can be made and potential lives saved by identifying a problem at an early stage and thus its importance cannot be overstated. Repairing a building, lift or identifying that your current cleaning product is not good enough in fighting infection at an early stage is priceless.

The options

There are available intelligent and automated ways to collect data without the need for manual data entry. Let’s consider three options:

  • Document scanning: Use an intelligent OCR scanning system to scan and extract data from paper documents. Payroll, invoices, log books and so forth are all examples where EFM data is held. Extracted data is available in a raw file format, which can be directly imported into your databases and dashboards.
  • Digital ink pen: The digital ink pen converts handwritten information into an electronic format. If there is a lot data that is recorded via handwriting, simply switch to a digital ink pen from an ordinary pen to make that data available electronically immediately.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Many hospitals carry smartphone and tablets. Use either a browser based or mobile application based system, where data can be collected and recorded on the go.
  • Web Data Capture: A browser based option,

Do more with less

Taking into consideration the current climate of the NHS and public sector and the need to remain competitive for private sector organisations, all organisations and departments must find ways to get maximum output with minimal input. An automated data collection methodology permits an organisation to run their processes at optimal conditions and thus is able to measure performance quicker and accurately without the laborious and manual administrative work. Administrative staff can now focus their efforts on more productive tasks.

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