With the last recorded population in the UAE to be 9.2 million in 2013, the current healthcare sector is under pressure to provide more facilities. This is the same for any country, even the UK’s long-established healthcare system has been growing at a steady rate of 5%. As the the UAE massively invests to improve its sector to match world leaders, CEO of Enova Alexandre Mussallam speaks with Construction Business News ME about current challenges faced in energy and facilities management in healthcare
How is maintaining a healthcare building different from a commercial building?
Managing facilities within a public building must always factor in customer comfort and this is really important. But in a hospital, we further reinforce our approach to reliability as the day to day running of the hospital is vital for easing patient discomfort during a particularly stressful time.
The major difference between maintaining a healthcare building and a commercial building is how time is condensed. If something is not functioning efficiently in a healthcare facility, the response time is much shorter than in commercial buildings as more is riding on optimal facility management.
In a hospital, the best facility management plan is preventative, not reactive as this decreases the risk of failure, as any issues are flagged before the problem has fully materialised.
How does effective FM affect the performance of a health care facility and the resulting recovery of its patients?
Competent FM in a sensitive sector such as healthcare is critical. With medical equipment relying on facilities managed by third party companies, failure can result in life threatening or tragic circumstances.
Bedside manner is proven to have an impact on patient recovery and, based on the same principle, a building that looks and smells clean, that operates smoothly and functions with patient care as a priority can ease the stress brought about by the traumatic experience of being in hospital.
One of the top priorities for FM in healthcare centres is the air quality. Our company takes additional care and practices special procedures over the maintenance of the air conditioning systems and frequently test air quality.
We also guarantee the maximum availability of equipment to ensure there is not a lack of vital tools. The clinical team must be confident that their supporting services run flawlessly and aid in patient care.
What are the common challenges faced in maintaining a healthcare facility in this region? And what are some common mistakes made during maintenance?
Some of the major challenges faced in maintaining a healthcare facility is ensuring the continuity of services to the site, including the provision of reliable and consistent energy. Any oversight in these areas could compromise the health and wellbeing of the patients.
It is important to remember that while healthcare facilities can have similarities with commercial facilities, they cannot be maintained in the same way as a commercial or residential facility. For example, proper maintenance of the air-condition and filtration systems is paramount in a hospital environment to avoid the spread of disease or contamination, not only for the facility as a whole but also for specialised wards such as operating theatres, intensive care units or laboratories. As such, the type of equipment used has to be adapted to meet the unique requirements.
With the healthcare industry quickly growing across the region, local facility management companies should use this opportunity to seek advice from international providers in mature markets who have the knowledge and experience of maintaining operations of large scale healthcare facilities.
Could you talk about how hospitals could implement better energy saving in their facilities?
To optimise energy saving in facilities, hospitals should adapt the temperature to the specific needs of each area. The needs for each room differ between public areas, patient areas, occupied and unoccupied rooms, medical areas and technical rooms and to provide the same services to each room is a waste of energy.
Furthermore, ensuring the distribution of energy is well balanced and managed by using the most suitable production equipment adapted to the specific needs of the hospital and maintaining it properly.
Veolia, Enova’s shareholder, fully manages the utility plant in a number of hospitals across the world, so Enova is best suited to combine their international expertise with a thorough regional knowledge of the Middle East and offer an excellent healthcare service.
Most companies in the GCC are interested in promoting medical tourism. Do you think regional facilities have the potential to be a medical destination?
The plan to make Dubai a medical tourism hub is supported by the Dubai Health Authority and the UAE government. Globally, the concept of travelling for medical treatment is still in its infancy and the UAE has already established itself in the top 20 destinations, due to its illustrious and luxurious tourism industry. Competing with traditional destinations such as the United Kingdom, Thailand, Switzerland and Germany, the UAE has more to achieve before it can claim the top spot.
Medical tourists currently have a choice of 30,000 healthcare professionals and 3,000 facilities to choose from but by 2020 this is predicted to grow to 40,000 professionals in 4,000 facilities across Dubai. Another part of the government’s large-scale plan for this ambitious project is to build 22 state-of-the-art hospitals to accommodate the anticipated half a million medical tourists. Efficient FM will play a part in setting Dubai apart from the competition.
With improving the healthcare offerings in the UAE being a priority and billions of dollars invested in making this a reality, Dubai is well positioned to become a medical tourism hub. Intelligent SME states that medical tourism contributed for 8.7% of tourism in 2012 and this is expected to grow exponentially.
Healthcare IT spending in the GCC is set to grow by 24% percent from $444m in 2011 to $551m in 2015, according to a recent report from Alpen Capital. Does this affect FM, especially when talking about integrated systems?
Data management affects all markets, including facility management, but not only for the healthcare sector. In the past few years, our work in facility management has changed drastically thanks to the use of tools that collect and analyse data, thus making us more efficient in delivering maintenance services and allows us to guarantee energy savings.
Enova has developed the Energy Saving Centre which provides an overview of the actual energy consumption of a site. This allows our team of technicians to personalise a service plan for each individual customer, which ultimately optimises maintenance and energy savings. The Energy Saving Centre would be a powerful tool that would help maintain healthcare facilities as it highlights any potential issues so they can be rectified before reaching crisis level.