Losing Institutional Knowledge in Healthcare During COVID
The beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic marked the end of life as many individuals knew it.
During this time, much of the workforce was initially required to halt operations or to drastically alter the way in which employers and employees approached duties.
As the virus surged on, many workers were given the opportunity to reflect on life and work moving forward.
For some of those individuals nearing retirement age, it meant leaving the workforce entirely.
For many others, it meant making a job transition. Regardless, for the healthcare facility management field, it meant not only losing valued, hardworking employees, but also the institutional knowledge gained through years of experience.
Even without the pandemic, this was a phenomenon that many businesses and organizations have been faced with as a generation of workers retires and a younger generation embraces the flexibility found in exploring various opportunities over the course of a career (RightWayMed).
The continual transition of employees has placed an emphasis on the value of institutional knowledge as well as its preservation in three specific healthcare facility areas: hospital care, senior care, and urgent care.
What is institutional knowledge in healthcare?
According to a blog post written for RightWayMed, institutional knowledge is, “the information, policies, and techniques that an organization develops over time.”
In the facility management field, it even covers the location of utilities as well as specifics such as inventory of supplies needed to complete tasks or repairs.
Also, factored into this distinction are the invaluable relationships managers develop with specific contractors and technicians.
The loss of this knowledge in the event of employee exits can have a negative impact on the experience and outcomes for those who inhabit the spaces.
The management of a hospital facility can have a direct effect on the experience or recovery of a patient (Facility Executive).
Facility managers and their teams grow to have a very intimate knowledge of the buildings that they work in and must be able to rely on their experience in order to make quick decisions to eliminate or prevent issues that can get in the way of patient care.
Even before the pandemic, assisting with the prevention of hospital-acquired infections through preventative maintenance measures was a top priority amongst facility managers (Facility Executive).
Building maintenance involving the cleaning and sanitization of facilities has been at the forefront of many caregiver and patient minds through the Covid-19 pandemic (Baker, Brian & Bryan Connor).
In addition to sanitization strategies, knowledge of HVAC systems in hospitals has been a defense mechanism used to lessen concerns regarding the spread of infection and disease in the hospital buildings (Baker, Brian & Bryan Connor).
Hospital facility managers have gained valuable knowledge about increasing the flexibility of these facilities in order to transition spaces to meet current medical demands or needs.
Much has been learned from these experiences, and organization leaders have begun relying on digital tools such as efacility to record space adaptations and procedures in addition to communicating needs in real-time.
Senior Care Facilities
According to a research study referenced in an article written for the Healthcare Facilities Management (HFM) publication, evidence shows that there is a clear relationship between environmental stressors and the wellbeing of healthcare facility patients and residents (Morgan “Healthcare”).
Thus, facility managers in senior care facilities also have a role in increasing the quality of care and experience through preventive and routine maintenance strategies that can increase wellbeing and safety (Morgan “Healthcare”; EntouchControls).
The effort to treat and meet the unique needs of each resident results in specific knowledge, plans, and procedures of inhabited areas.
Recording this information in an easily searchable system can cut down on non-value-added time by communicating procedures or practices related to fulfilling a particular need.
In the face of possible turnover or transition, facility leaders can get out ahead of the loss of this information and residents can be at ease knowing that facility-related problems will be resolved quickly without interfering with daily routines.
Urgent Care Facilities
Urgent care facility managers can also take action to prevent the loss of valuable institutional knowledge in healthcare while also increasing efficiency. These types of facilities are often smaller so they do not have a dedicated team to manage the facility.
Moreover, many of these facilities are managed regionally which results in single managers navigating multiple facilities over greater distances.
Because of the extended travel time between sites, managers and technicians need to be prepared before driving to the site. T
hey also need to be able to communicate or easily gain access to information while offsite in order to stick to project or work order timelines as well as budgets.
In more recent times, much focus is placed on easing the stressors of patients through the integration of smart technology that assists with virtual check-in, building navigation, etc. (Morgan “Smart Tech”).
With the incorporation of technology tools to assist patients, comes a need for device-specific knowledge at a moment’s notice; the anxiety related to the use of high-tech devices can be lessened by recording device-specific information on tools such efacility that are quickly and easily accessed.
With much transition and many advancements in the facility management field, comes the need to properly record institutional knowledge in healthcare in order to ensure a positive experience and move forward.
Most administrators tasked with management facility operations and maintenance within a fixed budget lack immediate access to all the information they need, organized, and consolidated in one place.
At efacility, we help facilities gather, convert, organize, and distribute all of their information, no matter what form it’s in.
When you have a proven way to immediately access your facility’s information, you can stay on top of preventative maintenance, respond to requests in minutes instead of hours, and reduce emergencies, all of which will keep costs down and make your boss very happy.
Baker, Brian & Bryan Connor. (2021). Healthcare FM Resiliency. FMJ – IFMA. January/February. from http://fmj.ifma.org/publication/?m=30261&i=689095&view=articleBrowser&article_id=3852276
EntouchControls.(2018, November 12).How senior living facilities management affects senior residents. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from https://entouchcontrols.com/senior-living-facilities-management/
Facility Executive. (2018, June 20). Five Trends in Healthcare Affecting Facility Management. Retrieved February 17, 2021, from https://facilityexecutive.com/2018/06/five-trends-healthcare-affecting-facility-management/
Morgan, J. (2015, December 9). Health care facility managers find ways to help boost quality of care. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/2029-health-care-facility-managers-find-ways-to-help-boost-quality-of-care
Morgan, J. (2018, October 3). Smart tech creates seamless experience for nervous patients. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/3478-smart-tech-creates-seamless-experience-for-nervous-patients
RightWayMed. 5 things you should know about capturing institutional knowledge. (2019, January 29). Retrieved March 21, 2021, from https://rightwaymed.com/5-things-you-should-know-about-capturing-institutional-knowledge/