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7 Ways Health Care Facility Managers Can Show Their Value to the C-Suite

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Health care facility managers realize the importance of their departments–the systems managed by the facility department are absolutely critical to hospital operations and the safety of patients and staff. But sometimes facility departments go unnoticed unless something goes wrong, and that invisibility can make it challenging to gain the necessary support to keep the facility running optimally.

Here are 7 ways to promote your value to the C-suite as a health care facility manager.

White Knight

1. Go beyond the "white knight" role.
Sometimes health care facility managers think of themselves as "white knights" who ride to the rescue when the elevator breaks or the boiler goes out. Unfortunately, that attitude drives the perception that the facility department is only required when something goes wrong. Instead of sticking to the white knight role, health care facility leaders should strive to earn the respect of administrators and interact with them at their level. Facility managers who are seen as peers of other key leaders are more likely to receive the support they need.

Talk Business

2. Be prepared to talk business.
Dana Swenson, senior vice president at UMass Memorial Medical Center, notes that the health care C-suite appreciates the language of business, so facility managers should be able to speak at that level. For example, health care facility managers should know the basic metrics of their department–such as average FTEs per occupied hospital bed, average work hours per unit of service, and number of meals served–and be prepared to discuss these metrics at a moment's notice.

Build a Network of Health Care Leaders

3. Build a network of health care leaders.
Make connections with health care leaders inside and outside of your organization and your department. Physicians, nurses, and other clinicians carry a lot of weight in hospitals, and it is important that they understand your role and the value of the facility department. Consider joining a local ASHE chapter or the local chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives–and seek leadership roles in those organizations. If you speak to the group or otherwise participate in an event, such as the 54th ASHE Annual Conference, write a note to your CEO discussing your involvement.

Tech Talk

4. Tone down the tech talk.
Speak in terms hospital leaders will understand so that they can understand the complexity of a facility project in layman's terms. Jonathan Flannery, ASHE's senior associate director of advocacy, said giving health care facility tours to Boy Scouts helped. "When you bring in a group of Boy Scouts and try and explain what you're doing, you can't use technical terms, because they're going to ask questions, so it forces you to get into the mode of trying to explain it to young people," Flannery said. And speaking of tours...


5. Give a grand tour.
Many successful health care facility leaders hold tours of their departments for C-suite leaders, clinicians, board members, and other stakeholders. A tour is the most tangible way to demonstrate what is exactly going on behind the scenes and how vital the facility department is. A tour reveals that the building doesn't just run itself–it is a highly complicated system operated by talented people who keep the facility safe, efficient, and prepared to care for patients.

Patient Care

6. Tie reporting to patient care.
It's easy to disconnect patient care from managing facilities and technology. Emphasize the numerous ways your department affects care when reporting to the C-Suite. For example, an infection control section in a facility report could discuss the uptime of the air handling equipment and sterilization equipment and various metrics surrounding the housekeeping staff, such as absences, turnover, and HCAHPS scores on the question "How often were your room and bathroom kept clean?" You can also conserve resources for patient care by benchmarking your health care facility energy data using energytocare.com.

Lens over Budget

7. Place a lens over your budget.
It's no secret that the C-suite responds to bottom line information. York Chan, administrator of facilities for Advocate Health Care in Illinois, measures his company's energy usage in BTUs and KWHs, and tracks that usage year to year. He reports the energy cost per square foot for each of Advocate's hospitals each quarter. This strategy helps put dollars into perspective, since energy costs are usually higher than employment costs. These data points can help to convince the C-Suite that trimming staff is not the best route to savings in the facility department.

Interested in learning more on how to promote your value to the C-Suite?
Download the ASHE monograph, Promoting the Value of the Facility Department to the C-Suite, free to ASHE members.

Not an ASHE member? Click here to join and get access to the monograph and other helpful resources.

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