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Easy & Affordable: Optimizing Efficiency in Retail Healthcare Clinics

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A new trend in providing healthcare services is requiring a new approach to powering clinics, as well as new solutions specifically designed for smaller healthcare buildings. This new trend is called ‘Retail Healthcare’ and it offers a host of benefits to the patients: easier access to healthcare at a more affordable price.

No more waiting months for a simple doctor’s appointment or common prescription need! However, for the retail healthcare site, it’s a challenge to provide this service while optimizing the environment of care while maintaining financial health. Quite the balancing act! Financial challenges are one of the most prevalent concerns for all healthcare providers.

Traditionally, medical facilities are big consumers of energy, and inefficiencies serve to drive up already-high energy costs, more and more. However, the benefits of more energy efficient buildings aren’t just financial. Unlike most other cost-cutting measures, increasing energy efficiency doesn’t compromise patient care — instead, it improves it, by increasing staff productivity, building operations, and creating a greener and more sustainable operation.

So, what options are available for energy efficiency improving technologies in these small healthcare sites? There are a range of solutions, but a good place to start is with application-specific room controllers. These controllers are a little bit like your standard thermostat, but much smarter.

Similar to a traditional thermostat, they allow control of areas based on pre-determined and pre-set standards and schedules, and are equipped with intelligent features that allow them to shut down when they’re not needed rather than running round the clock. Unlike a thermostat, however, they see much more than just temperature.

They include: Occupancy sensors, so energy is not wasted on heating an empty room Door and window sensors, to alert staff when your heating or cooling budget is flying out the window. Application-specific room controllers aren’t just designed with advanced technology, they’re easy and painless to install, making them a perfect starting point for facilities trying to upgrade old facilities. Wireless capability means they don’t require major renovations to run new wiring through a building, creating a non-disruptive installation process that won’t disturb patients and allows the facility to remain open while rooms are retrofitted. Designing a new building? Or, prefer a wired solution? No problem, this is also a seamless option.

For an ambitious facility that’s already reaping the benefits of advanced room control, however, it might make sense to scale up. These room controllers can be seamlessly integrated into a building management system (BMS), a software-based system which provides unified monitoring and control of all energy usage in a building, similar to Schneider Electric’s SmartStruxure Lite solution (designed & priced specifically for buildings with a smaller footprint).

A BMS can be put into a facility of any size, from a single building to an entire campus, and its benefits go above and beyond the capabilities of stand-alone room controllers. Upgrading to a BMS can improve patient comfort and staff productivity; decrease maintenance costs and increase reliability by identifying possible technological hiccups before they become problems; and increasing security, by allowing speedy notification of staff if an area is occupied when it shouldn’t be.

More advanced BMSs offer even more benefits — such as detailed analytics and reporting, which allow you to proactively prepare for the future. For example, Schneider Electric’s core building management solution, SmartStruxure, does just that. Of course, they’ll also save providers money — with smart technology that adjusts building conditions based on reality rather than a fixed schedule, they can help cut down inefficiencies and reduce energy costs by 30% or more.

These strategies have held up to the test of the real world. A case study performed in a large healthcare system in Texas, outfitted three small clinics with stand-alone, application-specific room controllers. The provider saw a savings of over 35% in a just a few months, and they’re now planning on adopting similar technology in several more their facilities. The benefits of these solutions are clear, almost immediately visible via fast ROI, and easily achievable. Providers operating smaller healthcare facilities would do well for both themselves and their patients to look into these solutions to decrease costs and carbon footprint, and increase the quality of patient care.

Credits:Jaimie Giarrusso, Global Communications Manager, SmartStruxure Lite Solution
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