Energy efficiency in the healthcare market highlighted

The health industry could increase its efficiency and make energy savings to reduce electricity consumption by over 20%, according to Richard Hipkiss, Chairman of the Energy Services and Technology Association (ESTA).

13 February 2014

In a recent article, Hipkiss outlined the measures managers could implement to curb electricity and power consumption in a number of areas across the health sector, helping the industry make significant energy savings and reduce its impact on the environment.

According to the ESTA chairman, energy efficiencies could be made through a number of simple, clear and sustainable actions — with managerial staff responsible for implementing the various energy cutting measures.

In his article for Health Business UK, Hipkiss begins by explaining the growing pressure being placed on healthcare businesses by the UK government, which wants a greater proportion of resources to be spent on frontline patient care. This means that healthcare businesses have to find ways to save money in other areas, with energy consumption being one of the primary areas for potential cost cutting.

healthcare professionals learning about energy

However, all this comes against a backdrop of rising costs across the health service, placing a huge amount of pressure on managerial staff to come up with ways to redirect monetary funds to frontline services.

In his article, Hipkiss writes: "The question in many professionals' minds is where those savings are going to come from. One area that continues to provide opportunities for efficiency improvements is that of utility management. This is not because the Health Service is a profligate user of energy and water – far from it in many cases. Yet advances in technology, together with new approaches to management, hold out the promise of additional savings even where significant initial improvements have already been achieved.

"A fundamental aspect of utility management remains the identification of waste through careful monitoring of consumption. Only then can comparisons be made against relevant benchmarks, targets set for improvement and continuous monitoring of activity carried out."

Hipkiss goes on to outline the steps managers can take to improve energy efficiency through data collection, clarity and flexibility — with increased automation being one of the primary measures in helping reduce energy costs and thus free up funds for frontline services.

The importance of automation for healthcare businesses

Traditionally, monitoring and targeting energy consumption was made difficult by inefficiencies in data collection and management, with outdated manual meter reading making it almost impossible for businesses to ensure accurate billing. There was also little provision to monitor energy consumption, meaning that managerial staff couldn’t easily identify inefficiencies in how energy was being used, and thus miss out on potential areas in which to make energy savings.

healthcare professional saving energy

However, the advent of automated meter reading through smart meters has now made it possible for individual managerial personnel to record and monitor energy use. Hipkiss expands further on the benefits of automated meter reading for healthcare businesses: “Gone is the laborious manual data-gathering and data‑inputting, to be replaced by automatic meter reading, analysis and reporting.”

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While automation plays an important role in energy efficiency, there is a need for healthcare managers to provide a formal structure for energy saving. According to Hipkiss, any energy saving framework needs to command 'wide acceptance' within a business.

Throughout the article, Hipkiss argues the need for flexibility in order to deliver energy efficiently 'month-by-month, year-by-year', commenting that “the energy manager's work is never done. Energy management is a process of continual review, revision and improvement. There will always be opportunities for enhancing energy performance."

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