Outsourcing to secure continuity

Last weekend the medical inspection (IGZ) paid the Atrium MC (a large top clinical medical centre in the south of the Netherlands) an unannounced visit. This has resulted in closing of Operating Theaters because the risks of contamination are too high. Malfunctioning air-conditioning is one of the reasons to shut the OT’s. The Atrium MC is forced to build an interim facility with 8 OT’s. This reminded me of the problem more smaller hospitals have with keeping up their facilities up to standard. By using the example of one of our clients, the Ommelander Group (a small regional hospital at the North of the Netherlands) which we helped to outsource its medical maintenance department, I like to show how outsourcing can help to reduce risks and eventually costs.

In its strategic review the Ommelander Group discovered that external landscape was changing rapidly. The environment became more competitive, continuous cost cutting by the central government, innovative technology which can overcome geographic distances and finally the more demanding customer. As a result the Ommelander Group decided amongst others to focus on its “core business”, to outsource or cooperate on back office activities and to reduce risks. Looking at medical maintenance department (being one of the back office activities) we discovered the following developments, risks and consequences:

1. Development: Scarcity of skilled people Risk: discontinuities
2. Development:Increased complex devices Risk: uncontrollable medical devices in the hospital
3. Development: Need for risk assessment Risk: failures and damages to patients and bad reputation
4. Development: Increased requests of IGZ Risk: closing of (parts of) the hospital by IGZ
5. Development: Increased competition Risk: lost sales

The Ommelander Group had foreseen, that due to these developments, they could not secure a highly (ICT)skilled staff 24/7. Hence the board decided to outsource the medical maintenance function although the costs for the hospital were (initially) higher and they might become more dependent of their contractor. These developments and risks are generic and applicable for most Dutch hospitals. Hence hospitals should always keep in mind that outcourcing could secure their continuity.

Finally I would like to underline that in the case of the Atrium MC other more complex developments were the reason to close the OT’s. Outsourcing of their medical maintenance would not have solved the problems Atrium MC is facing today.