Power Quality and Monitoring in Healthcare

Industry: Healthcare

Content:

Hospital patients rely on experienced doctors and advancements in science and technology for quality care and a positive patient experience. Standard building systems, like lighting, heating and cooling, and security within the hospital are basic features that can impact a patient’s stay. More advanced and complex systems are required to support the patient’s diagnostic and treatment needs. Machines like life-support technology, diagnostic imaging, and operating room systems require clean, reliable power to ensure the patient receives proper care. Healthcare facilities can continuously monitor power quality to protect key infrastructure and assets that keep the lights on, the heating and cooling at precise temperatures and humidity levels, and the life-saving machines running as needed.

In this blog post, we discuss with Stark Tech’s Paul Coon, Director of Digital Power Solutions, and Jim Taufer, Technical Sales Consultant, on challenges healthcare facilities face, as well as the short- and long-term benefits of power quality monitoring in the healthcare industry.

First and foremost, what is the benefit of implementing power monitoring solutions in the healthcare industry?

Taufer: There are really four major benefits of power quality and power monitoring, the first being improved energy efficiency. When working with a client, our team uses the client’s historical energy data to understand their current energy consumption patterns and develop a customized energy strategy to help address and meet their specific energy goals – whether that’s a reduction in energy consumption, energy spend, or both. Power monitoring provides the insights to explore these opportunities.

The second benefit is resiliency. Power monitoring systems identify potential vulnerabilities the facility has – whether they’re external or internal – and then analyzes those vulnerabilities to correct them. If it’s not possible to correct them, then we are at least able to put a plan in place to manage them. This will ensure maximum up-time for the facility, improve focused emergency response, and reduce the time needed to restore power to essential loads. We help our customers understand their power quality information and provide recommended actions for their facility to remain reliable and in continuous operation.

Healthcare facilities require a lot of sophisticated equipment that can be very sensitive to power fluctuations or disturbances. We’ve found that whether it’s from a technician or an administrator, in almost every healthcare facility, there are horror stories about things that went wrong and the information they wish they had to better manage or avoid those situations. The third benefit addresses worker safety. Power monitoring provides continuous equipment monitoring and reporting without exposing workers to any hazardous work environments (i.e., opening live equipment for portable meters and data records). The capacity and utilization of equipment can be determined safely and on demand using the data captured by the power monitoring system. This also helps reduce equipment costs by avoiding oversizing since the design in based on the actual loads.

The fourth benefit is compliance. Healthcare facilities are required to provide compliance records that document the maintenance and testing of their key building systems. Power monitoring systems can automatically collect, store, and report monthly testing of the emergency power supply systems (EPSS). The test event data is also verified in the report to ensure both the equipment’s performance and the operator’s testing procedures are as expected. Any actual power outage event is captured and reported, providing the customer with a full understanding of the emergency power system real performance.

Why is this capability important to our healthcare customers?

Taufer: Healthcare facilities are continuously searching for new ways to become more energy efficient while controlling costs. In addition, top-down pressure to improve productivity with a less experienced workforce emphasizes a need to implement automation and standardization within their day-to-day practices. Healthcare facilities rely on outside resources like software tools to better understand what’s going on within facilities and help their people make better decisions in a cost-effective manner.

Coon: On top of that, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities are required to keep detailed patient records in databases for compliance reporting. It’s important for them to be able to maintain those records and access them when necessary to show inspectors or regulatory commissions that they’ve done the testing and whether they passed or failed. Maintaining constant, reliable power ensures those records are secure and available 24/7.  Power Monitoring Software helps maintain the highest level of power resiliency and reliability.

What are some of the barriers experienced in the healthcare industry regarding power quality and monitoring?

Taufer: Hospitals and healthcare facilities struggle to adequately describe the Return on Investment (ROI) of this equipment and its systems to their financial teams. Secondly, it is difficult for them to interpret the data without being a subject matter expert.

Coon: At first glance, there is no direct, immediate ROI when adding meters to a facility, because adding meters alone does not help save energy. The information provided by the meters is what provides the necessary insights into what’s happening at the facility. This knowledge is what leads to the return on investment.

For example, we were monitoring a piece of equipment for a customer from a manufacturer that failed. The manufacturer initially blamed the power company for bad power coming into the facility and claimed the power quality was the cause of the equipment failure. Therefore, they weren’t going to cover it under warranty. The power quality monitoring software identified that there wasn’t an issue with the power coming in, instead there was a fault within the equipment that was causing it to fail. Due to our findings, the manufacturer honored the warranty on the equipment, saving the customer nearly $80,000.

Why do customers choose our power quality and monitoring solutions and support over the competition?

Coon: We really focus on our customers here at Stark Tech. We can integrate disparate systems into a single pane of glass in a way that our competitors can’t. I was just recently in a meeting where both the engineer and another equipment manufacturer praised the work that Stark Tech had performed on several sites and reiterated how they’d like to work with us on other projects in the future because of the kind of value that we added to the project. Other companies in the industry don’t necessarily have that added value because they don’t form those same relationships with their customers. Our team is not only there for the selection and installation of these systems, but we are there after the fact to make sure it does what the customer wants and needs it to do to get the return on investment necessary to justify the system to their finance teams.

Taufer: We provide tailored solutions for our customers’ specific needs – they are not one-size-fits-all solutions. We are there after the sale making sure that our customer gets the total value of the system.

What are some long-term benefits healthcare customers see when working with the Stark Tech team?

Taufer: After working with our team at Stark Tech, we find that utility companies and equipment providers treat our customers differently because they know that they can now measure and document exactly what’s happening in their facilities and why. Our customers that integrate power monitoring into their facilities have better communication with their utilities. The utility companies and equipment providers do their best work because they know that they’re going to be measured, and they need to perform to a higher standard because the customer holds the right data. At the end of the day, we want our customers to optimize their energy efficiency and identify and manage or eliminate any vulnerabilities – and we help them do that by being their trusted advisor from install to operational. Our goal is to help our customers be more efficient, and cost-effective as an organization.

Coon: After working with Stark Tech, our customers can set specific Key Performance Indicators for their energy savings and see if/when/how they meet those goals. And if they don’t meet those goals, they have a better understanding of the why. They get a lot of long-term data that they can trend and study to better understand where they started and where they are going.

­­­­­­­­______________________________________________________________________________

Stark Tech is a clean energy and technology company that specializes in facilities and energy management. Our Power Quality team proactively monitors and controls sensitive power equipment, primary electrical infrastructure, and backup power systems to ensure power quality control. Through years of experience, tribal knowledge, and best-in-class technology, we help end users reduce their environmental impact through the facility optimization process.