Be Lean, Save Time, Save Money: Pre-Select and Standardize Medical Equipment and Engineering Systems

November 25, 2014  |  Troy Seanor AIA

Prior to the capital approval of any design and construction project, hospital Directors of Facilities and BioMed/Purchasing leaders should predetermine customized selection standards for medical and engineering systems equipment. With such standards in place, hospitals can save time and money, and compound the cost savings over future capital improvement projects.

By establishing medical equipment standards, BioMed/Purchasing team members gain the ability to input accurate equipment costs into capital improvement project estimates, facilitating subsequent approvals and saving time.

Established standards significantly decrease the duration of the design process by reducing the amount of time a medical equipment planner must spend on equipment selection and documentation. The equipment planner won’t need to start from scratch to address each piece of equipment, and can instead focus on research related to idiosyncratic aspects of the project.

Similarly, establishing engineering system standards prior to capital project approval can realize future cost savings. Although a complex undertaking, the process of infrastructure standardization entails evaluating and selecting systems based upon life cycle cost and energy efficiency to conserve future operating expenditures.

Whereas the schedule constraints of a capital improvement project might compel hospitals to consider only first costs, a standalone standardization effort, prior to capital improvement project approval, dedicates appropriate time for researching and selecting engineering systems that lower long-term building operating costs.

As a result of developing thorough building engineering standards, the hospital benefits from highly accurate pre-construction cost estimates for successive capital improvement projects. Accurate up-front estimates preclude re-working and value engineering later in the project, saving time during construction. And, the sooner construction concludes, the sooner the hospital can make money on the services the project houses.

Hospitals should review the medical equipment or engineering system options according to 5D criteria: size in three dimensions, plus schedule and cost.

Size criteria: How big-what is the length, width and height? How much does it weigh?

Schedule criteria: Where is it coming from and how long does it take to arrive onsite?

Cost criteria: How much does it cost? What does it cost to operate and maintain? What are the lifecycle costs versus first costs?

Secondly, the Facilities and BioMed/Purchasing departments should evaluate the size, schedule, and cost of several factors beyond the equipment itself. Additional criteria to consider include the availability, capacity, and impact to electrical, HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, and low voltage systems. In some instances, they must carefully consider structural anchorage based upon existing and/or proposed structural building framework limitations. In other instances, they must take environmental acoustics into account.

To illustrate, a plethora of secondary cost, schedule, and spatial requirements impact whether a piece of medical equipment or engineering system under consideration is the optimal choice when compared to others. Some equipment may require costly power conditioning equipment depending upon its projected amp draw, heat rejection, sensitivity to the “cleanliness” of the local utility company’s normal power, or vibration sensitivity in the case of diagnostic imaging equipment.

Contributing author: Guy Shoaf, Director of Facilities Management, St. Mary’s Hospital & Holy Cross Hospital, Carondelet Health Network, Tucson, AZ

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR                        Troy Seanor AIA
0553Troy Seanor is a leader of FreemanWhite’s architectural group and a member of its management team. Healthcare facility design has been the sole focus of his professional career, and from initial conception to final detail coordination, he maintains quality control and design integrity through his continuous project involvement. In addition, Troy has faced the challenge of restrictive time schedules and budgets with successful, innovative designs that have exceeded client expectations.

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