Healthcare Advisory Group Identifies Emergency Management Planning and Clean Water as Emerging Healthcare Facility Priorities

Semi-annual meeting enriches collaboration between ATG and healthcare industry leaders on turning facility data into key strategic insights.

In April, ATG held its semi-annual Healthcare Advisory Group meeting at ATG’s headquarters in Lombard, Illinois where a group of facility management experts from across the country discussed emerging trends and future technology needs. Gathering this input directly from the field is what sets ATG apart from the industry and results in the development of powerful, innovative technologies that meet facility management needs head on.

Discussion at the latest forum focused on both current and future technology demands for facilities management. It also unearthed the rather quirky need to meet traditional methods of paper documentation for surveyors, while simultaneously providing digital streamlining of important information.

ATG President Mike Hakbaz said, “The opportunity to listen to these influential leaders and gather information lies at the core of ATG’s mission to develop innovative, intuitive, and easily accessible solutions. This is why ATG is the leader in creating powerful technologies that revolutionize the way facilities managers work.”  

Homeland Security and Clean Water Impact Hospitals Today

Here are the top issues discussed in April's meeting:

Emergency Management Planning: Group members discussed at length the need for increasingly detailed management of documents for Homeland Security regulations at the local, regional and state levels. Healthcare organizations must participate in community emergency management drills and have detailed plans for the safety of patients and hospital personnel. Facility managers said this has increased the need for a management solution that tracks and organizes internal planning and document management for multiple emergency planning needs. These needs include disaster preparedness, hospital safety and security, working with first responders, and developing internal response plans and scenario documents with local, state and regional fire, police, and public health officials.

Ongoing staff training and education: Members discussed the need for ongoing training and education of staff - a result of the dynamic nature of the healthcare industry and ever-changing staff. While hospitals continue to use reliable ATG solutions, they want to ensure a high level of fluency with the technology and rely on training to achieve that goal.

Life safety management: One of the highlights of the meeting was evidence of the success of the ATG Life Safety Management (LSM) solution, as related by client Tomas De Ocampo of Houston Methodist. He said that typically his organization spends 11 to 12 months on their annual inspections but, in using LSM, they have completed 75% of their inspections in just 4 months.

Jay Balapa, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions Division reflected on the fact that the Houston Methodist is a perfect example of the value of input from Health Advisory Group members. “These discussions give us first-hand information that both clarifies the success of some of our solutions and the need to fine tune others. We also hear innovative ways in which our clients are using our products. All of this is invaluable in ensuring that our technologies remain relevant and on point for our clients.”

Barrier management: Group members shared what they call “a common procedural problem” in healthcare organizations today - namely that of staff improperly handling penetrations. They said there is high value in a solution that helps to identify easy penetration paths.  ATG executives joined the discussion, asking detailed questions so that a future ATG solution will directly address these problems.

Space standards: When it comes to resource allocation, space plays a key role. Group members agreed that the need for space analysis is growing exponentially and that the ability to evaluate square footage use and maintain accurate databases is essential. It was interesting to hear group members underscore the fact that space planning is driven by facilities staff; C-suite executives have little information or experience with daily details. In fact, they rarely meet with architects, leaving it to department heads. ATG executives shared the fact that the ATG Space Utilization Dashboard™ was developed in collaboration with facility managers to provide organization-wide overviews that make their jobs easier.

The Future Includes Clean Water and Straddling “Back to the Future” Documentation

Clean Water: It’s not only a matter of clean water in the external environment; Advisory Group members said clean water is a looming internal issue. Waterborne pathogens like legionella have to be carefully detected and treated. That means that tests and risk assessments have to be conducted for all water sources in a healthcare organization, despite the fact that it is an expensive undertaking. Facility water sources can include everything from drinking and hot water to housekeeping water and the ground’s water tower.  

Clean water management solutions will have to support water management plans, an inventory of systems and risk assessments, as well as documentation management for inventory data collection and analysis. ATG executives gathered this information and it is already under study for the development of future solutions.

Back to the future: No one would expect that “Back to the Future” might be a theme at a meeting centered around technology development, but it was. Attendees said that while the digital collection and storage of documents is streamlined, safer and more accurate, it doesn’t necessarily meet the preferences of some regulatory bodies. While they cannot require paper documentation, surveyors may dislike conducting electronic tracers during a survey. Members said some hospitals may continue to maintain paper documentation to satisfy expectations of some surveyors. However, all agreed that digital documentation is the only way to organize for accurate, on-demand retrieval.

Close collaboration with industry leaders

At the end of Healthcare Advisory Group meetings, ATG gathers this essential information for study and uses it to develop new solutions. For nearly 30 years, ATG has collaborated closely with healthcare organizations to deliver mission-critical knowledge and insights to better manage facilities, support planning, enhance compliance, and mitigate risk. We can only do that when our clients share information from the front lines of facilities management.

Industry leaders that participated in the latest forum included:

  • Chet Howard,
    Director of Maintenance, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, AR
  • Ericka Gray-Wylie
    Emergency Management Coordinator at LifeBridge Health, Northwest Hospital Center, Randallstown, MD
  • Odell Hall
    Director of Facilities at LifeBridge Health, Northwest Hospital Center, Randallstown, MD
  • Tomas De Ocampo
    Manager, Facilities Management System, Houston Methodist, Houston, TX
  • Leslie Chandler
    Facility Safety Manager, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Carrollton, TX
  • Robert Nightingale
    Environmental Health & Safety Manager, Edward Hospital, Naperville, IL

Join the ATG Healthcare Advisory Group

Do you have ideas to share on processes and technologies to improve facilities management?

If you’d like to join a group dedicated to exchanging new ideas and sharing experiences with colleagues from other healthcare organizations, please contact ATG.

Call 800-804-8442 or email for more information.

Read: Fall 2015 Meeting