How Aggregators Put Healthcare Facilities at Risk and How to Consolidate Facility Management Services Effectively

Healthcare systems have been merging and purchasing one another, resulting in huge healthcare systems that have replaced local healthcare networks. And many are looking to facility management aggregators that partner with local and regional supplier networks for service.

While healthcare systems are getting some benefit by saving money, they are not getting the risk reduction benefit they require.  

With an aggregator, facility leaders are not getting consistent service nor have visibility to ensure that all healthcare environments in the portfolio are clean, safe, and compliant.

Aggregating also impedes a more unified category solution. In the aggregator business model, the aggregator firm collects information about providers, signs contracts with these providers, and sells their services under its brand.

But this process becomes much more complicated in a medical setting. The expectation for performance and quality, and the understanding of the healthcare industry are higher and more important. Aggregators focus more on getting somebody to the facility to fix a problem.

Ensuring Consistency of Service for Healthcare Organizations Using Facility Management Aggregators

Like many healthcare organizations, these aggregators face labor shortages and employee churn.

One challenge for managers in working with aggregators is ensuring service consistency. You don't know who will show up, and it could be a different person each time. This change in workers adds risk in healthcare when the group does not cater to the healthcare sector.

There is an understanding of the healthcare sector, the company, compliance regulations, guidelines, and specific nuances that need to exist. A revolving door of providers can’t attend to this.

Healthcare cleaning is complex, especially when the clinic or urgent care center has high throughput. This equates to many surfaces that must be decontaminated and ready for the next patient.

With that increase in surfaces to be disinfected comes a corresponding increase in time pressure. When in-sourcing or using an aggregator, there will always be some absent resource; when additional cleaning is required, there are often insufficient resources.

As a result, clinic administrators and staff must take the attention off the patient experience and focus on facility issues. Navigating the healthcare facility becomes complicated for professionals, patients, and visitors. And ultimately, the healthcare facility fails because patients do not feel that they are in a safe environment with minimal cross-exposure.

A Real-World Example of How a Leading Dialysis Clinic Put Operations, Patients, and Finance at Risk with an Aggregator

When one of our clients, a top clinical dialysis organization, moved to a lower-cost “aggregator,” it saw rippling effects on its operations, patients, and P&L. The client, with services across 36 states, hired a lower-cost service provider that outsourced to a patchwork of small, individually owned janitorial companies.

As a result, there was limited standardization and oversight. Due to the aggregators' limitations, the dialysis organization and its centers suffered more significant variability and increased operational and patient risk.

  • The aggregator was challenged to find service providers for many locations during the pandemic.
  • The local mom-and-pop shops weren’t providing service up to expectations and adhering to regulatory guidelines across all sites. They weren’t using medical-grade disinfectants and EPA chemicals, ensuring the safety of ill patients with compromised immune systems.
  • Clinic managers were burdened with facility issues. This took their focus off the patients, as the caregiver’s and staff’s sick time increased. Due to short staffing, patients became frustrated with long wait times to get treatment.
  • Individual clinics failed scheduled and surprise audits resulting in fines and affecting margins.
  • Through surveys, the center found that patients did not feel “safe” and “comfortable” getting treatment at these locations. They looked to other national dialysis centers that gave an appearance of being clean to ensure their safety.

The lower-cost facility provider offered a 10-15% savings. But in the face of brand damage, productivity losses, regulatory fines, lost patients, and the cost of multiple potential site shutdowns, those “savings” ultimately hurt the organization. This is why they ultimately returned to OpenWorks.

How Healthcare Organizations Should Consolidate Facility Management Services

So, if healthcare organizations should be consolidating their facility management and aggregators add risk, how should organizations be consolidating correctly?

1.     Look for a national provider offering multiple layers of support to ensure needs are met at corporate and site levels. This will help ensure service consistency across sites and get data to increase efficiency.

For example, at OpenWorks, operations managers provide oversight and facility expertise to ensure accountability at each location, while direct franchisees and independent contractors take pride in their work.

OpenWorks create success with ongoing customer support and they are working with a complex organization, they will provide an additional layer of support with a dedicated account manager for coast-to-coast service reliability.

Three pillars of support ensure corporate-level consistency with the data and real-time information required for a successful facility operation. This structure results in the organization's highest service quality and operational consistency.

Healthcare facility management needs to be agile, dynamic, and careful. These facilities move very quickly. That means coordinating space, people, assets, and resources with steadfast precision, to avoid delays that could be critical to a person’s health.

Even in non-emergent situations—such as appointment clinics—a practice’s ability to deliver the highest caliber of patient care(and remain profitable) stems from agility and control – something an aggregator cannot help provide.

Three pillars of OpenWorks support and its team
With OpenWorks, enjoy three pillars of support with our technology supporting it all.

1.      Choose a provider that will tailor services to individual sites, not just the healthcare organization. Many regulatory requirements for different types of spaces control the healthcare industry. The uniqueness of different spaces in a healthcare system creates different complexities for vendors.

 2.      Look for a national provider focusing on outcomes such as improving the patient experience. Unfortunately, too many providers clean for appearance’s sake versus healthier environments and a better patient experience.

 3.      Choose a provider that gives greater visibility into your facilities' performance across all regions. Lacking visibility and transparency, even if services are consolidated, is something to expect from disparate teams, not a consolidated system.

 So, do you have visibility, consistency, healthcare and wellness partnerships, and service providers who want to be there? If not, call OpenWorks to chat.

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