The Importance of Software Specialization in Hospitals
In an increasingly digital age, it’s tempting to look for a software that can do everything for your facility: from billing to ADT to environmental services. But a one-size-fits-all approach has limits when it comes to the complex world of Hospital Administration.
For instance, one large hospital department––Environmental Services––is an extremely specialized field. Cleaning protocols are very regimented and critical, as they are based on science that continues to evolve as our understanding of infection and diseases evolve. Beyond the cleaning itself, administrative aspects like certification, ongoing education and training, and regulatory reporting, are all crucial and complex aspects of the work. Several trade associations, such as AHE, exist in order to support professional development in this discipline.
Our engineers and consultants are intimately familiar with these complexities, because they come from an Environmental Services (EVS) background. That’s why we built ES Optimizer and our other software programs specifically for environmental services teams. Because you shouldn’t have to retrofit your software to fit your needs; it should be built around those needs.
Here’s why specialized software matters for specialized disciplines like EVS:
Built for the entire workflow, not just task management
The true effectiveness of any management software doesn’t just lie in the modules like task management, surveys, and scheduling. It lies in how these modules work together to support your entire workflow. How do you organize, assign, log and report on tasks for every employee in a large department? What do you do with Quality Inspection Survey Results once you have them? The underlying database and how each module draws from and contributes to it determines whether the software creates efficiencies or just creates extra work.
Modules like these need a foundation. Just like you wouldn’t start building a house by choosing the furniture, you wouldn’t start building your EVS work plan by randomly assigning tasks. For your EVS department to run smoothly, your tools need to be plugged into the greater workflow. Your work assignments need to be based on what your unique facility requires, and QA surveys need to be based on the work assignments that have been completed. Otherwise, they just generate task lists and survey results that no one knows what to do with.
That’s why it’s so important that the software you use has an intimate understanding of the specific needs of your department. While a standard task management application might allow you to assign discrete tasks to people, it doesn’t offer a way of determining all the tasks that need to be done within a department. Nor does it pull finished task data into industry-required reports: for example, an OR Terminal Cleaning Log, or a Joint Commission cubicle curtain review.
To cite just one example: in ES Optimizer, the database of facility spaces is designed with an understanding of what, how and when EVS cleans each space. Each module feeds off of this accurate EVS data to produce actionable items and necessary reports.
Built and supported by people who have been in your shoes
Generalized software that can “do it all” tends to be designed by people more interested in software than your department. A software that is highly specialized around a specific discipline often tends to be created by people who have come from that discipline. Smart Facility Software, for example, is staffed by former environmental services directors, managers and supervisors: Our software handles the EVS workflow like a pro, because it is designed and stewarded by EVS professionals.
Smart Facility Software consultants know exactly the challenges you’re facing as an EVS Director, because they’ve faced those same challenges. And they are always there to help you figure out how to address them: whether that means updating your work assignments for new COVID cleaning protocols, or figuring out how to use your data to address your specific administrative needs.
When we take on a new facility as a client, we don’t use benchmarks or blueprints to build out the database. Our EVS consultants literally walk the floors of each hospital facility to determine your facility’s scope and specific needs and build your database of rooms and cleaning requirements. This firsthand knowledge of your facility makes it possible to run staffing analyses and build work assignments that actually meet the needs of your unique facility and budget.
Because those tasks aren’t just based on any hospital facility: it’s based on your specific hospital facility, and its specific cleaning protocols.
Built to focus on one department’s needs, without sacrificing the ability to work with other departments
Having a software that focuses on one specialty, and one specialty only, often means that software is better suited to address the unique needs of your department. But other departments have software that are equally critical to their operations. That means it’s important to look for a specialized software that can also integrate with other departmental applications: because everything works better when it works together.
ADT software systems, for instance, might be able to do things like survey patient rooms and waiting areas for cleanliness. But they overlook essential functions of EVS management—like providing technicians with detailed daily task sheets (work assignments) —because those are outside its scope.
At SFS, we know where our specialty starts and stops, and where another software’s begins. That’s why we are built to be interoperable and to exchange information with other applications—because we know it’s unrealistic to rely on one app to fulfill an entire hospital’s needs.
The good news is, you don’t have to choose one or the other: more and more, software companies are moving toward interoperability, to ensure that departments work together without relying on one software for every department. Our ES Optimizer software, for example, is built according to HL7 standards to share information safely and securely between multiple apps. That means you can integrate our EVS software with your ADT system–without the need to enter data in two places.
Instead of relying on one app to fulfill every department’s needs, you should be able to depend on the specialization of your software without sacrificing the ability to work easily with other departments.
With the complexity that comes with environmental services work, wanting to take on a one-size-fits-all approach is tempting, but it isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Given the extremely specialized nature of EVS, supporting your department with a software that was built according to your specific needs isn’t a nice-to-have: it’s a must-have.