TCO Transparency: Know The True Cost of Digital Healthcare System Transformation

Engineers With On-Site Insights A Must

Engineers with limited exposure to the inner workings of healthcare facilities often neglect to take a holistic approach when designing complex healthcare systems. For instance, the Nurse Call Management System (NCMS), a crucial system that is essential to keeping facilities up and running at peak efficiency at all times.

Despite being wildly talented, if engineers designing these systems aren’t familiar with the operations and capability requirements of a healthcare facility, then large unseen charges are a certainty down the line. Unfortunately, those charges are billed to the facility to account for what failed to be considered during the design process by the engineering team whose bid won the tender. What follows is a headache for the healthcare facility, the patients and families under their care, and a diminished chance for future partnerships between the engineering team and the facility.

On-Site Insights: Big-misses in designs may be the result of something as simple as not knowing terminology, internal processes, or the needs of health care workers, facility staff, and the patient and family experience.

In order to eliminate the risk of an immensely expensive misunderstanding, it’s best to set your sights on a firm with a medically informed and patient-centric approach. Doing so will help to avoid future expensive changes that could drastically inflate the project’s TCO. Working with firms that are equipped and experienced in the medical field will provide engineers with on-site insights and allow them to offer an inclusive, patient focused healthcare facility design. One that considers all facets of an efficient healthcare ecosystem such as Nurse Call Management and alarm systems through to food and custodial operation needs.

Beware of Recurring Licensing Fees

Oftentimes recurring licensing fees will not be included in a firm’s bid, resulting in surprise invoices for tens of thousands of dollars after as little as one year. In some cases, as they’re locked in by contracts, these licensing fees can amount to hidden costs in excess of $200k above and beyond the bid’s original TCO. 

This is typically a matter of lacking transparency during the bidding process. While there’s little to be done once contracts have been signed, these fees can be avoided by addressing them in the initial tender, e.g. including 10 years of licensing fees in the tender so that facilities know what to expect and can budget accordingly. 

Albeit a seemingly small consideration when putting together a tender, it will prevent having to pull resources from elsewhere in order to foot these unexpected and annually recurring bills for years to come.

Allowance Clauses and Change Orders

Be cautious if a bid received has an uncharacteristically low TCO. It’s not unlikely that there will be some contract language therein that makes way for some, if not many, change orders in the future. 

These change orders can rack up hidden costs outside of the TCO by as much as 10x the market value for the issues that they address i.e. wiring costs, equipment alterations, etc. Unfortunately, while these kinds of predatory tactics typically leave a stain on the consultants record, they still receive the change order payment and once again the health care facility has to foot the bill because of contractual obligations and one or two well placed sentences hidden in the winning bid. 

Tip: Look out for language like ‘after on site, allowances might need to be made for change orders’. 

Shield Your TCO With Future-Focused Systems

Facility and system designs that fail to consider future integration demands and scalability will only ever lead to compounding expenses and rampant inefficiencies over time. 

As the Canadian healthcare landscape continues to evolve and pivot to meet internal and external challenges, it’s essential that when the time comes to integrate new systems, softwares, or processes, these facilities can do so with ease and at no exorbitant extra costs. 

Now more than ever, technological solutions are becoming more and more essential as they compensate for an ongoing labour shortage in the Canadian healthcare field and the resulting challenges and ramifications that come with it. Not to mention the solution-urgency that multiple overlapping pandemics demands. 

Ideally, these new systems will have built-in integration paths that meet current requirements and allow for future efficiencies. Ease of integration not only brings step-saving options into the mix of healthcare facility capabilities, resulting in better patient care, but it also saves the facility from huge hidden costs down the line.

Some key capabilities to consider when developing a tender: 

  • SIP Wireless Phones
  • Text Messaging, Pocket Paging, and Smartphones
  • Real Time Locating Systems
  • Automated Overhead Paging
  • Scrolling Marquees
  • Smart Medical Beds
  • ADT (HL7) Patient Information
  • PC Console Activity Display
  • Cross Platform Integration