Facilities management for healthcare goes digital

Streamlining processes for better customer, staff and patient experiences
by Ted Rickenbacker
10-minute read
Group of healtcare workers with masks on talking

The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) began in 1848 as Victoria, Australia’s first public hospital and is now one of the largest health providers in the state. RMH provides a comprehensive range of specialist medical, surgical and mental health services as well as rehabilitation, aged care, outpatient and community programs. A designated state-wide provider for services such as trauma, RMH leads centers of excellence for tertiary services in several key specialties, including neurosciences, nephrology, oncology, cardiology and virtual health.

RMH serves a community of over 550,000 people based in the western and northern suburbs of Melbourne. In addition to its flagship facility, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the health service includes two major campuses at City and Royal Park as well as 32 satellite locations with mental health, residential care and community-based services and an infectious disease reference laboratory.

To maintain RMH’s extensive environment, over 600 Facilities Management (FM) employees work around the clock, providing a wide range of non-clinical services such as cleaning, ward support, maintenance and engineering services, energy and utility management and food services.

Over the years, FM operated from a legacy system of pagers, messaging systems, phone calls, tickets and other paper-based tools to respond to service requests. Prior to its system transformation, there were eight different ways to call upon facilities services. However, with systems being managed from non-integrated silos, and with steadily growing workloads, RMH needed to streamline and review its FM business processes before these systems were overwhelmed.

“The FM staff was increasingly presented with daily operational challenges in service delivery,” says Adriana Stormont, CAFM Project Director at RMH. “We also had a lack of qualitative data to better inform decisions. Also, asset data was not centralized so we couldn’t capture lifecycle costs, maintenance, warranties, contractor agreements and other important information.”

To address these issues, RMH launched an independent service review, which recommended a digital task management system. “We followed a comprehensive evaluation and procurement process,” says Stormont. “Our journey included reference visits and meetings across healthcare and commercial entities locally and interstate.”

In November 2018, the RMH Board of Management approved funding for an integrated workplace management system (IWMS), including a mobility digital task management platform. In 2019, the organization also established a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) team to oversee the digital implementation and change transformation. This major metropolitan health service selected the IBM® TRIRIGA® platform to become its IWMS. With a suite of analytics, critical alerts and automated process capabilities, TRIRIGA increases visibility, control and automation of FM needs.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital Environmental Services Manager with their departmental TRIRIGA/CAFM dashboard managing discharge cleaning & waste requests from the wards

During the first 2 months after go-live, the CAFM system managed

26,393

service requests from 2 hospitals and over 30 other sites

CAFM has replaced many paper-based FM processes with

~400

digitized tasks that employees receive via mobile devices

Implementing IBM TRIRIGA and empowering our staff to engage in a digital environment has become one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for our workforce. And this was made so much easier with the support of TRIXi Building Insights.
Adriana Stormont
CAFM Project Director, The Royal Melbourne Hospital

For solution design and project implementation, IBM brought in IBM Business Partner TRIXi Building Insights because of its extensive experience with IBM Internet of Things (IoT) software.

The CAFM project included a review of over 100 business processes, design sessions for seven workstreams, data migration, change management, and user testing and training across multiple departments. But as the project continued — on time and on budget — into early 2020, an unexpected event would intervene and challenge RMH and FM in ways that nobody could have ever imagined.

Group of healtcare workers with masks on talking
Royal Melbourne Hospital entrance, day
Our work with The Royal Melbourne Hospital came at a really difficult time globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when you look at it through the light of the healthcare provider. But what it did show was how resilient our solution was.
Mark Williams
Managing Director and Founder, TRIXi Building Insights
Going live during a deadly pandemic
Our work with The Royal Melbourne Hospital came at a really difficult time globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when you look at it through the light of the healthcare provider. But what it did show was how resilient our solution was.
Mark Williams
Managing Director and Founder, TRIXi Building Insights

In early 2020, just as RMH was getting close to launching the CAFM system, COVID-19 struck Australia, and hospitals began to prepare for a pandemic. In addition to the extraordinary demands placed on clinical staff to treat COVID-19 patients, monitor suspected COVID-19 (SCOVID) patients and maintain general acuity workload, FM staff saw its workload increase, with infectious cleaning and infectious waste alone trebling in demand compared to normal capacity.

The CAFM system was slated to become operational in late April, but the hospital decided to move up the go-live date for the Operations and Maintenance module to March 31, which would help prepare for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients. “This isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” says Stormont. “By launching CAFM as soon as we could, we would have the digital tools we needed to help meet this challenge and better support our clinical workforce.”

FM employees began using mobile smart devices to respond to service requests coming into TRIRIGA Request Central from clinical wards, the emergency department, allied health services and many other stakeholders. CAFM enables tasks and jobs to be viewed in real time via dashboards and actively monitored by each department.

From the beginning, the IBM TRIRIGA solution was deployed as a managed service from an IBM data center. The IBM Cloud® Delivery Services team provides application support and actively monitors and manages the solution.

The CAFM system made an immediate impact in assisting with reporting on COVID-19 infectious cleaning and waste activity, including preparing the workforce to go into COVID and SCOVID wards.

As of mid-July, just over a year since system go-live, more than 500,000 service requests have been submitted through the CAFM-TRIRIGA information management system, including:

  • 59,907 discharge cleans, including COVID and SCOVID infectious cleans
  • 26,300 waste disposal requests of all segregation types, of which 16,855 waste requests were for 240L infectious waste bin disposals alone
  • 12,350 blood specimen collection requests
  • 23,978 patient transfers within the hospital such as to and from Radiology, Theater and between wards
  • 26,467 engineering corrective repairs and preventive maintenance tasks
  • The stakeholder base continues to grow across the health service with Emergency and Radiology departments joining in 2021. Functionality usage in TRIRIGA continues to grow with plans for Asset Management, Project Management, Space and Reservations, Real Estate consolidation, Energy and Utility Management and IoT Tracking.

    When COVID-19 infection cases related to the Delta variant surged during the Australian winter of 2021, CAFM-TRIRIGA continued to be an important tool for RMH. In addition to supporting the clinical staff, CAFM-TRIRIGA enabled the tracing of facilities staff within the hospital when Tier 1 and Tier 2 exposures became identified across the health service outside of COVID wards.

    The RMH FM team has also appreciated how the IBM TRIRIGA-powered CAFM platform has managed tasks beyond the original scope of the project. “For example, CAFM has helped us identify staff members that came into contact with COVID-19 patients or their rooms,” says Michael McCambridge, Director of Facilities Management at RMH. “This enabled us to risk-assess exposure and define Tier 1 employees needing isolation for 14 days before coming back to work, and Tier 2 employees to be tested and cleared negative for infection before returning to work.”

    “Implementing IBM TRIRIGA and empowering our staff to engage in a digital environment has become one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for our workforce,” says McCambridge. “And this was made so much easier with the support of TRIXi Building Insights.”

    Mobile tools for a digital hospital

    “Facilities Management has now digitized close to 400 service requests across the task management platform, ranging from ward cleans, patient transfers, delivery and collections for pathology and pharmaceuticals, reactive and scheduled maintenance, medical device repairs, and assistance with trauma and helipad retrieval, just to name a few,” says Stormont. “The CAFM-TRIRIGA service request portal is accessible by all our 10,000 staff members across all our satellite locations.”

    Post-implementation, the FM staff has seen the following performance activity improvements:

  • Reduction of duplication and waste. Relying on pagers for task dispatch has in the past not provided clear accountability of job ownership, and as a result, duplicate resources often responding to jobs. FM now has clear accountability of tasks and can better equip staff on procedures and requirements when attending jobs.
  • Replacement of multiple paper-based processes. Multiple paper-based processes have been replaced with almost 400 digitized tasks. An example of this includes paper-based Cleaning Schedule ticketing, now accounted for with a system and devices. Engineering job tickets are no longer printed and physically collected by trades via the Engineering help desk.
  • Enhanced workforce utilization through improved service response times. Activity data now demonstrates FM’s ability to shift resources and allocate based on customer demand. An example of this was the heightened cleaning activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, where resources needed to be reallocated in response to demand. Engineering jobs are now transitioning to include maintenance costs per job.
  • Visibility on outstanding work for next shift handover. Daily schedules can now inform staff in real time of the status and number of patient rooms and en-suite cleans completed. This transparency informs shift handover.
  • Customer transparency on job status. Wards logging jobs can now see a dashboard of all FM jobs submitted regardless of type. Dashboards enable communication on job status and for the requester to communicate directly with the responding technician if required.
  • Asset optimization and utilization. For the first time, FM can now begin to grow asset data, including locational information and associated maintenance activity. FM will begin to better understand its asset risk profile, utilization and asset performance. This feeds into decision-making processes on asset investment and funding grant applications.
  • Improved reporting capabilities. FM now has an e-tool to enable reporting on activity. TRIRIGA, as an integrated workplace management system, now drives many workflows and captures data, tasks, assets, CAD locations, aggregates and emerging trends. This reporting will better inform decision-making processes on resources, investment, procurement, customer demand and satisfaction.
  • By using CAFM, the FM team responds to service requests more efficiently because the system enables transparent communication through the task back to the requester, whether the status is “holding for parts” or, if a room is unavailable for medical reasons, “job on hold.” The Discharge Clean Team now responds to jobs within 15 minutes. Formerly, this response could have taken up to three hours, depending on available resources. “We now have that transparency to quickly respond and reallocate our resources based on demand like never before,” says Stormont.

    As of September 13, 2021, CAFM-TRIRIGA has processed 768,181 requests coming from all satellite locations dispatched to a number of workgroups, including Maintenance Staff, Cleaning Staff, BioMedical Engineers, Clinical Assistants, Emergency Department Assistants, Project Managers, Facility Managers and Contractors.

    RMH will continue to grow and develop the CAFM-TRIRIGA roadmap with other key stakeholders and functionality modules to support clinical throughput, energy management, and asset and space management. The hospital will also maximize the IoT platform for connecting automation to deliver improved data and analytics. “The software replaced a number of siloed systems and it continues to be the catalyst for our business process reforms,” says Stormont. “We are very excited that this tool enables us to work smarter, become more innovative and sustainable, but more importantly, better support our clinical partners.”

    “The world is changing and the way people are working is changing. Managers need to be aware of how they drive that change within their organization,” says Mark Williams, Managing Director and Founder of TRIXi Building Insights. “Having a solution like IBM TRIRIGA has obviously delivered great benefits for RMH. “By digitizing the way people work, we can really make some positive changes, even during these difficult times.”

    The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) logo
    About The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH)

    With its beginnings at RMHExternal Link in 1848 as Victoria’s first public hospital, it is now one of Australia’s leading public healthcare providers. The organization delivers a comprehensive range of healthcare services, including specialist medical, surgical and mental health services as well as rehabilitation, aged care, outpatient and community programs through RMH, NorthWestern Mental Health and the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory. RMH has staff in excess of 10,000 employees and serves both a local community and broader statewide population for specialist services. Locally, the organization serves a community of over 550,000 based in the western and northern suburbs of Melbourne. This community is diverse in terms of culture, language, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

    About IBM Business Partner TRIXi Building Insights

    Based in St. Leonards, New South Wales, TRIXiExternal Link works with building managers, developers, designers and lease accountants to improve facilities management, achieve the most efficient utilization of building assets and to be more sustainable. The firm specializes in the design and integration of IoT systems to increase visibility, control and automation of real estate management.

    Solution components
    The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) logo
    About The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH)

    With its beginnings at RMHExternal Link in 1848 as Victoria’s first public hospital, it is now one of Australia’s leading public healthcare providers. The organization delivers a comprehensive range of healthcare services, including specialist medical, surgical and mental health services as well as rehabilitation, aged care, outpatient and community programs through RMH, NorthWestern Mental Health and the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory. RMH has staff in excess of 10,000 employees and serves both a local community and broader statewide population for specialist services. Locally, the organization serves a community of over 550,000 based in the western and northern suburbs of Melbourne. This community is diverse in terms of culture, language, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

    About IBM Business Partner TRIXi Building Insights

    Based in St. Leonards, New South Wales, TRIXiExternal Link works with building managers, developers, designers and lease accountants to improve facilities management, achieve the most efficient utilization of building assets and to be more sustainable. The firm specializes in the design and integration of IoT systems to increase visibility, control and automation of real estate management.

    Solution components