Offsetting the costs of patient satisfaction with operational efficiencies

An advanced building automation system, LED lighting, and airflow changes improve the efficiency of healthcare facilities.


An advanced building automation system allows facility staff to get equipment feedback and troubleshoot problems remotely. Courtesy: Daan StevensWhen operations run smoothly in healthcare facilities, everyone benefits. By employing an engineering strategy focused on increasing operational efficiency, hospitals achieve cost savings that allow them to dedicate more resources to elevating patient care and increasing patient satisfaction.

There are several solutions that improve efficiency while saving cost and time for healthcare facilities.

Airflow changes

Occupied spaces in a healthcare facility require a high level of airflow changes per hour, and air handling units (AHUs) use a great deal of energy. For example, an occupied operating room requires a minimum of 20 air changes per hour for the protection of the patient. When an operating room isn't in use, however, the air change rate may be lowered. This allows a facility to turn down the airflow rate to save on energy costs while still maintaining the positive pressure the room needs even when unoccupied.

"Many facilities install a control panel in operating rooms that allows staff to lower the airflow rate when the operating room will be unoccupied," said Marty Herrick, P.E., associate at RTM." The operating rooms are then turned up to their occupied rate for the procedure-from preparation through cleanup-which ensures the safety of patients and may result in energy cost savings of one-half to one-third."

Occupancy sensors also can be installed as a primary or backup method to reduce airflow in vacant operating rooms.

LED Lighting

Implementing energy-efficient lighting results in a host of long-term benefits for the facility. Quality illumination is necessary for every space within a facility - from patient rooms and hallways to parking garages and MRI suites - but it also is a significant expense. LED lighting provides better functionality than fluorescent lighting, lasting longer and requiring less upkeep. The end result? The facility saves money and maintenance time.

Remote Control

An advanced building automation system allows facility staff to get equipment feedback and troubleshoot problems remotely. This ease of access allows for faster turnaround times when rectifying a problem as it relates to room environment. Staff can view data on everything from plumbing pumps and emergency generators to exhaust fans and AHUs from points throughout the hospital or even off-site locations.

"If a patient is complaining his room is too warm, the facility staff can investigate possible causes of the problem through the automation system," said Herrick. "Without even entering the patient's room, they can determine if the heating valve is open or closed, and look at points from the variable air volume (VAV) box to verify it is also operating correctly."

This article originally appeared on RTM's website. RTM engineering is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Hannah Cox, content specialist, CFE Media,

Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Exploring fire pumps and systems; Lighting energy codes; Salary survey; Changes to NFPA 20
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me