As the Affordable Care Act pulls the excess out of the healthcare system, hospital occupancies are escalating as fast as budgets are plummeting, says Mark Heller, president of Hygiene Performance Solutions Inc., a North American consulting firm devoted to helping hospital environmental services departments improve their cleaning programs.

“In the good old days, hospitals operated around 70 percent capacity,” Heller explains. “Today, as redundant capacity gets sucked out of the system, it’s driving occupancy up, and that is putting the squeeze on budgets.”

And as hospitals tighten their in-house cleaning budgetary belts, the time is ripe for building service contractors to swoop in and grab a share of the business, Heller says.

“There is a huge opportunity if the BSC can rise to the challenge,” says Heller. “Healthcare organizations are hungry for whoever can deliver the goods within their budgetary constraints.”

BSCs, especially those who have never operated in the healthcare space before, can capture a share of this market if they can implement evidence-based cleaning practices that support better clinical outcomes. According to Heller, this requires BSCs to be more market-focused, more nimble, and to put in processes, systems and people that deliver on their hygiene promise.

“But,” he warns, “if BSCs approach healthcare as just another segment of cleaning, and remain stuck in the paradigm of traditional cleaning methods and being the low-cost cleaning provider, they won’t flourish.”

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