Preparing for the Real-Time

Posted on October 24, 2011


Thus far, healthcare has been…immune to some of the logistics developments over the past decade or so that have revolutionized delivery of products and services. The most obvious one that comes to mind is Walmart’s supply chain savvy, which is used primarily on the back end by the companies that supply the Walmarts and grocery stores of the U.S., like Pepsico and Frito-Lay. Stocking and re-stocking is not done on a standing weekly appointment, but as-needed. When someone buys a bag of chips or two-liter, the companies that make the products get real-time feedback at the point-of-sale so they know when to come back and replenish the shelves. This is business in today’s market—on demand, real-time.

Similarly, in other parts of the country like the Midwest, electricity prices are real-time:  they fluctuate by the hour, minute or second. A commodity like jet fuel can be purchased in bulk, with futures (options to lock in favorable pricing in the future). However, with the unpredictable and limited supply of energy by power companies, some businesses in Texas for example, must deal with operating their organizations around constantly fluctuating costs. This is business in today’s market—constant change, real-time.

As hospitals prepare for a new post-healthcare reform future, administrators must determine whether they are positioned to act in real-time. Would real-time data on ED throughput affect how change is delivered next week, next day, or next hour? If not, how long can hospitals not afford to change based on such information? How would a facility strategically plan and run differently if it had to respond to energy prices that changed by the second?

Design-builders are highly skilled at adjusting to real-time data in the flow of projects.  When the price of concrete changes or the Director of Nursing resigns in the middle of an OB / Women’s Center, and new prices or views and leadership are provided, respectively, a design-builder is culturally and structurally prepared to respond proactively—without slamming on the brakes, writing a bunch of CYA letters, and threatening change orders. Design-build is expertly evolved project execution for real-time data, i.e. constant change.

Sometime in the not too distant future, we will all be expected to live our lives and do our jobs responding more to real-time than fixed data. When the time comes to do a project, think about the real-time-preparedness of your organization. If change is not a specialty of your hospital, consider balancing out that skill set by hiring a company and project team that was founded to respond to real-time change.