Whether due to damage, natural disaster or age, there comes a time when hospital facilities need to be refurbished. 

Mobile facilities offer a sustainable, cost-effective way to maintain a high standard of care. It’s a different space than everyone’s used to though and it’s important to recognise that and adapt your clinical workflows accordingly. 

That involves: 

  • Engaging clinicians
  • Changing perceptions
  • Choosing the right site and speciality
  • Taking a minimalist approach 
  • Running scenarios
  • Managing patient expectations. 

When all that is done well, mobile facilities provide a positive environment for both staff and patients. 

Engage clinicians

The early engagement of clinicians is vital, according to Cherry Lee, Head of Clinical Services & Practice at Vanguard Healthcare Solutions.

“Very often when a project involves money, it’s led by operational leaders, procurement, estates and facilities teams because they’re the ones that have to ensure value for money,” she reflects. 

“Too often clinical leaders aren’t engaged until the decision’s already been made. I’d say, the second you get the fleeting idea that you might need to use a mobile facility, take your clinical leaders to look around one, get them to read some testimonials, get them to stand inside one and think about how they’d work in that space.”

When clinicians feel that the move to a new facility is being done to them, they tend to be understandably irritated and raise numerous objections. They feel sidelined and are not inclined to approach the project constructively. 

But when clinical leaders are engaged at the outset and have the opportunity to shape decisions, they tend to think highly of mobile facilities and play a key role in adapting clinical workflows to suit the new space. 

Change the perception of mobile facilities

It’s important to recognise that, when you say the phrase ‘mobile facility’, an image immediately appears in clinicians’ minds. And that image usually creates the wrong impression. 

“A mobile facility is actually a high-tech environment that meets an astounding array of standards. These are bespoke clinical environments with operating theatres and diagnostic suites that are more than capable of doing what you need them to do,” says Cherry Lee.

While some mobile facilities are standalone, many are connected to the main hospital. That means patients and clinicians may not necessarily even notice that they’ve moved from the main building to the mobile facility.  

“If you’ve managed everyone’s expectations well, they’re usually quite excited by the move when it comes about,” says Cherry Lee. 

Choose the right site and specialty 

Now you need to review what activity is going to remain in the main hospital and what will move out to the mobile facility. 

It’s vital to talk to surgeons and anaesthetists at this stage and to the theatre teams.

Site location is another key consideration. You might prefer a standalone mobile facility away from the distractions of the main hospital. You might want to be connected to the main hospital. If you’re doing more complex work, of course, you’ll need to be close to a critical care facility. 

Take a minimalist approach to improve efficiency

A mobile facility is, undeniably, a smaller space and must be clutter-free. It’s quite different from being in a main theatre which doubles as a storage space and is stocked for multiple specialties.

“If you try to fill every inch of that mobile facility with racking and stacking and boxes and cupboards, you reduce your movable space and that becomes quite a cluttered and difficult environment,” says Cherry Lee. “So it’s a little bit of a decluttering exercise, declutter your mind, declutter your space and work only with what you absolutely need.”

Procedure packs prove very helpful here, enabling you to have all the equipment you need for a particular surgery without any superfluous kit.

“Stripping back the amount of kit and the number of people actually makes you really efficient. It also reduces the risk of grabbing the wrong instrument. And from a flow perspective, it allows you to be really quite rapid. So if you plan well, you’ve got just the equipment you need and you’ve got the people in there, it all leads to rapid clinical workflow.”   

Run scenarios

Running scenarios serves two purposes. It helps prepare your staff for normal work in the facility and it equips them to respond to any emergency developments. 

“Have a clinical setup week to give teams a chance to get used to the space,” says Cherry Lee. “Then run a cardiac arrest scenario, a major haemorrhage scenario, a rapid response scenario – anything that could happen, you need to practice and make sure it works well through the mobile facility.” 

Manage patient expectations  

Just as you’ve managed the expectations of your clinicians, you now need to manage patient expectations.

You need to make clear that the quality of patient care will be just as high in the new facility as in the main hospital. 

There may be procedural changes that you wish to outline in new leaflets. If your pre-assessment processes are different (e.g. telehealth), then outline that too. 

As long as patients know what to expect and receive timely, compassionate, high-quality care, they usually have very positive feedback about the mobile facilities. 

Unexpected benefits

Clinical staff are often pleasantly surprised by the experience of working in a mobile environment. 

“They feel they can support their patients in a far more personable, localised manner because it’s their facility and they feel a strong sense of ownership of that space,” observes Cherry Lee. “They’re part of a smaller team that works cohesively together and they’re able to avoid getting caught up with the politics of the main hospital.”   

What can’t you do in a mobile facility? 

“Don’t go into this thinking there’s a list of procedures you can or can’t do in a mobile facility,” advises Cherry Lee. 

“With the right advice and support, they can be adapted to almost anything, really. We’ve done cardiac surgery and ASA 3 and 4 complex patients through here. Remember, these facilities aren’t used for anything else. They are bespoke surgical and medical facilities. And the compliance levels are such that you should be able to do relatively major surgery through here.”

Remember too, that mobile facilities are not the only option. Bespoke modular facilities can be designed with greater height and space to accommodate trauma tables or with lead lining for radiology purposes. 

How can Q-bital Healthcare Solutions help? 

Q-bital Healthcare Solutions provides mobile and modular healthcare facilities to support hospitals when refurbishing or extending capacity and has a keen focus on engaging clinical teams and creating effective workflows and positive patient experiences. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to adapt clinical workflows to a mobile environment, please contact Q-bital Healthcare Solutions