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Defeating the Healthcare Deferred Maintenance Monster

April 21, 2022

Deferred maintenance. It’s a beast right up there with Smaug, Drogon, and the Jabberwocky. A real dragon.

Especially in healthcare – where an asset failure can literally mean life or death for a patient – that dragon can strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest facility managers. Between tight budgets, limited manpower, and the reality of how busy healthcare facilities are, you’ll most likely never completely clear out your deferred maintenance backlog.

You may not be able to fully vanquish your deferred maintenance dragon (it’s just the nature of the beast). But you can still win by keeping the monster under control and too weak to endanger patient safety.

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ASHE Study Highlights Deferred Maintenance Dangers

Before attacking a dragon, it’s important to survey the terrain. The 2022 Hospital Construction Survey from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) reveals the challenging landscape many healthcare facilities find themselves in.

Key study findings:

  • 35% of hospitals surveyed said they’ve performed an emergency repair on a piece of equipment after deferring maintenance on it.
  • 86% said the cost for emergency projects was higher by an average of nearly 18%.

Deferred maintenance resulted in emergency repairs most commonly among:

  • Faulty boilers
  • Chillers
  • HVAC systems (including air handlers, coils, etc.)
  • Water pipes
  • Roofing
  • Nurse call systems

More than 46% of surveyed hospitals incurred additional expenses due to an emergency repair, including:

  • Renting substitute equipment
  • Revenue loss from canceling MRIs, CT scans, and surgeries
  • Overtime costs for staff
  • Flood damage
  • Temporary relocation of services

One bright spot, though: While very few hospitals got their entire maintenance requests approved, nearly one-third of respondents had more than 70% of their budget approved.

Read the full report: 2022 Hospital Construction Survey

Deferred maintenance brings dangers, expenses, and disruptions. It’s a difficult opponent that can’t be ignored – and you definitely don’t want it getting the upper hand.

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The Secret Weapon for Staying on Top of Deferred Maintenance

It’s not as thrilling as a suit of armor or as glamorous as a magic sword, but there’s an immensely powerful weapon that any facility manager can wield in their battle against the deferred maintenance dragon.

Data. Information. Knowledge. It’s the key to calling the shots. Specifically, it’s knowing:

  • The current condition of all your building systems and assets
  • Which deferred maintenance tasks should be prioritized
  • The cost of repairing an asset today or in the future
  • The cost to replace a building system or asset today or in the future

The dragon feeds on guesses, ambiguity, inaccuracy, and outdated information. Keeping deferred maintenance from rearing its ugly head comes down to truly knowing the current condition of your facilities. Reliable data equips you to make informed, calculated decisions on what can continue to be deferred and what should be addressed.

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Strengthening Your Approach to Deferred Maintenance

If data is your greatest weapon, you need to keep it in prime condition at all times. Start by identifying the weaknesses in your current information. Ask yourself:

  • Do we have granular, accurate projections of lifecycle and replacement costs?
  • Is my asset data current?
  • When was our last facility condition assessment?
  • Is there a master list of all deferred maintenance tasks?
  • Can I quickly find the maintenance history of every asset?
  • Is our facilities data organized in one easily accessible place?

Now that you’ve uncovered areas where you could be better, it’s time to do something about it. One of your best allies in improving your data is facilities management software. A comprehensive tool like AkitaBox enables you to:

  • Keep all building and asset data in one place
  • Track preventive and reactive maintenance history for each asset
  • Conduct a fully digital FCA and integrate the results into your existing data
  • Keep your deferred maintenance projects organized
  • Quickly identify which assets are approaching end of life
  • Pull accurate replacement costs from the RSMeans database

Just think of the power all this knowledge gives you. Properly prioritize deferred maintenance tasks. Greatly reduce the chances of expensive emergency repairs. Confidently make your case for budget dollars. The deferred maintenance dragon won’t stand a chance against you.

Learn more about how AkitaBox helps healthcare facilities battle the dragon by scheduling a demo.

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Robert Thomas

Robert is an Enterprise Account Executive at AkitaBox. He's passionate about helping organizations find transformational solutions that drastically improve the way they do business.