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How Planet Can Help to Make Cost Efficiecies Within the NHS | 14 July 2006

The NHS deficits crisis has hit the headlines recently. Find out how implementing Planet FM Enterprise can contribute to cost savings without compromising the levels of service.

You can’t fail to have heard about the NHS deficits crisis which has dominated the news recently. Estimates state that 1 in 4 Trusts failed to balance their books in 2004-5, leaving the NHS with a deficit of £250 million. Trusts face the prospect of drastic cost cuts including ward closures and staff reductions. With no overnight solution, Trusts need to become leaner and meaner, trimming costs wherever possible without compromising the levels of service provided.

As one of the major sources of expenditure within any hospital, the Estates department has also been affected. Responsible for the upkeep of the estate, the department plays a vital role in providing a safe environment for patients, public, medical staff and contractors alike. Locating the areas where cash is leaking and identifying how to correct those leaks should be a key priority. Implementing a computer aided facilities management system is a good starting point. CAFM systems help users take complete control of their physical assets, giving them increased visibility over expenditure right down to the last penny.

FDS Advanced Systems launched its first generation of Planet estates and facilities management software in the late 1980s. The company has since grown to become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of FM software with a strong foothold in the NHS market. Its solid reputation has led to over 55 hospitals and trusts choosing Planet software to manage their estates. Birmingham Heartlands NHS Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and Royal Bournemouth NHS Trust are just some of the Trusts currently using Planet systems. Planet FM Enterprise is the latest generation and has been designed to meet the needs of today’s Estates and Facilities Managers who are increasingly faced with cutting costs yet are still expected to provide high levels of service. Implementing a CAFM system can help to make efficiencies using tools to manage budgetary expenditure, streamline processes and improve service levels. There are several areas in particular in which cost savings can be made once a system is in place.

Maintenance schedules and backlog maintenance
Maintenance is a major expense for every estates department. There is an increasing demand to make more informed use of the resources attributed to planned maintenance routines. Deploying a CAFM system can help users explore where some PM routines can be reduced and others increased. Where an asset is in good condition, is unlikely to fail and would have minimal impact on the hospital if it were to fail, the maintenance regime could be reduced – perhaps from six-monthly to annually. A similar asset may be in poor condition but could be in a crucial area of the hospital where failure could result in an entire ward being closed. Clearly, different maintenance routines are required for both assets.
Introducing more informed planned maintenance regimes can lead to substantial cost savings yet minimise disruption to the daily running of the hospital. Planet’s enhanced Condition Survey module enables users to score assets for maintenance based on the basis of potential consequence and probability of failure to provide a combined backlog scoring or risk ranking. Routines can then be altered accordingly. The cost of keeping an asset in an acceptable condition and the cost and planned timescale of any backlog maintenance required can also be recorded. An overall year-by-year cost plan for maintenance can then be managed and used to inform Trust expenditure decisions and contribute to annual ERIC reports.

Mobile data solutions
The past few years have seen mobile technology become more readily available. Planet FM Enterprise work orders can be uploaded to a handheld PDA device making data collection fast and simple. Planned and reactive maintenance tasks can be despatched directly to engineers via their PDA. They can access full work order details, view and receive instructions on work procedures, close work orders and refer to maintenance manuals – all whilst out in the field. One of the main benefits of investing in mobile technology is increased worker productivity. Data can be uploaded in real time, so engineers don’t need to return to their fixed base as frequently to update job information and pick up details of their next job. {short description of image}This cuts travel time between sites and saves money at a time when fuel costs are at an all time high. More jobs can be completed during the course of the day, leading to increased service levels. Less time is spent re-keying information which, in turn, leads to reduced administration costs. Engineers receive instructions in real time, so they arrive at the right location at the right time with the right equipment, helping them to meet SLA targets and improving service levels. Reactive maintenance jobs can be combined with planned maintenance jobs, reducing the need to return to the office.

Work orders can be created directly within Planet FM Enterprise via the engineer’s handheld device, reducing paper-based work orders which leads to cost savings and reduced administration. As data can be collected ‘live’, this results in more accurate data and more informed decision-making. Operating mobile technology also gives the estates department greater visibility over their mobile workforce. Travel time, downtime, job start and finish times can all be recorded via the PDA, enabling the estates department to generate a timesheet showing a breakdown of time spent on a job, travel time and so forth. Having this increased visibility can Identify where spare resources exist and enable users to manage their resources more effectively.

Intranet
Deploying Planet’s intranet server across an estate can also lead to significant cost reductions. Building occupiers with an intranet connection can log reactive maintenance calls themselves, reducing the workload on the help desk freeing up their time to attend to other issues. Callers can be automatically updated on job progress without having to contact the help desk. Planet’s intranet server also enables maintenance staff to view the jobs assigned to them and sign off work orders again, reducing the need for them to return to their base so frequently.
Improved accuracy of data

An additional benefit of implementing a CAFM system is the improved accuracy of data and maintenance information that it promotes. Planet FM Enterprise enables users to see at-a-glance how much is being spent on maintenance, where improvements can be made, when assets have reached the end of their lives and when they need replacing. This enables users to manage assets and schedule workload more effectively.
St Georges Healthcare NHS Trust

St Georges Healthcare NHS Trust has been an FDS customer since 2002. As one of the oldest and largest hospitals in the country, the Trust employs over 5000 staff and treats around half a million patients every year. St Georges selected Planet FM to streamline their facilities and site services departments and have implemented Planet’s intranet server across the site. This has had a major impact on efficiency, and has enabled two full time operators to handle in excess of 150 calls per day. During this time of cost cutting, instant access to budgetary information is vital. The estates department can extract financial information and answer questions on costs quickly. There is no doubt that CAFM systems have positive implications on the cost of running an efficient healthcare estate. The stories about the NHS deficits crisis look set to continue but, with the help of a CAFM system, the Estates department can pinpoint where it can make cost efficiencies through better control of both assets and personnel.

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Posted by James Lavery
+44 (0)1529 413131.

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