Technology and Energy Efficiency In Healthcare

As healthcare facilities consider ways to help lower costs while improving services, they might consider ways that IT can help lower energy consumption.

William Pentland at Forbes highlighted the energy consumption problems in healthcare. In “Heal Thy Self: U.S. Hospitals Are Huge Energy Hogs,” Pentland writes that hospitals over 200,000 sq. feet are “gluttonous consumers of water, consuming roughly 133 billion gallons of water… totaling $615 million in water expenditures, with an average of 43.6 million gallons and $202,200 per building.”[1]

At the same time, Industry Week has been focusing on energy consumption in manufacturing. Recently Adrienne Selko offered a series of steps to help manufacturers think about developing an energy-management culture.[2] I modified some of her points to show how they might relate to healthcare facilities. The strategic role that IT must begin to play within an organization makes perfect sense within the challenge of managing and reducing energy consumption. Here are the highlights from IW:

Awareness – Most organizations do not have an effective model in place to monitor, assess, and understand energy consumption at the various facilities. The first challenge is making management aware of energy consumption challenges by monitoring and documenting consumption and associated costs.

Monitoring – Organizations need formal tools to monitor energy consumption. An effective monitoring plan should give executives an understanding of usage trends over time, sources of energy consumption and opportunities for improving efficiency.

Governance – As organization get a clear picture of ongoing energy consumption, they can establish goals for reducing energy consumption, utilize various technologies that can automate and manage consumption and develop rules of governance that can help avoid peak demand charges and optimize power usage and performance.

Evaluation – Organizations must develop a pattern of monitoring and evaluating energy consumption on a regular basis.

These steps offer ideas for beginning to consider power consumption more strategically within the healthcare system and other large organizations. The CIO can play an active role in developing the tools for monitoring and management as well as in the strategic formation of an energy-management culture.

This is yet another way that technology providers within a company are shifting from a cost center to a strategic development department offering solutions for achieving long-term business outcomes.

[1] William Pentland. “Heal Thy Self: U.S. Hospitals Are Huge Energy Hogs.” Forbes, August 20, 2012.
[2] Adrienne Selko. “Steps Industry Can Take to Reduce Energy Consumption.” Industry Week, March 12, 2012.

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