MacDonald-Miller drives sustainable smart-hospital solutions using Microsoft Power BI

MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions is a Seattle-based design-build contractor that makes buildings more sustainable and energy efficient. MacDonald-Miller partnered with Swedish Medical Center to implement Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) at three of its hospital campuses. By using a customized ICONICS platform together with Microsoft Power BI, MacDonald-Miller saved the healthcare network $350,000 during the first 12 months.

“What’s exciting about this journey is we continually find new ways to leverage the power of Power BI, SQL Server, Azure, and ICONICS. We keep pushing on the technology and it continually responds with new opportunities.” – Ruben Cañas: Vice President of Healthcare Construction, MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions

A model of sustainability in healthcare

Hospitals consume nearly five percent of all energy in the United States, especially among more vintage sites. With five campuses in the Seattle area, Swedish Medical Center realized it needed to embrace digital transformation to gain more visibility into its energy usage and carbon footprint. This was especially made urgent by the new Seattle Energy Code requiring decreased energy usage and a $1 per square foot fine for non-compliance.

According to Ruben Cañas, Vice President-Healthcare Construction at MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions, “Swedish Medical Center understood both the challenges and opportunities of adopting preventative maintenance and continuous equipment monitoring. There was a mutual understanding that this wasn’t just about continuous commissioning and fault detection. The forefront of this effort was about meeting the requirements of information security and compliance—a critical need of Swedish that we confidently addressed. The importance of security was further highlighted as we began to bridge building analytics with clinical analytics, creating transparency at all levels.”

“The MacDonald-Miller team met with our staff and carefully walked us through the details of advanced fault detection, smart energy analytics, and operational sustainability,” says Andrew Davis, Swedish Director of Facilities. “After their careful audit of our First Hill campus, we were convinced MacDonald-Miller was the best guide to take us on this journey.”

With the goal of using software to modernize its facilities management, Swedish Medical Center partnered with MacDonald-Miller on a five-year plan to increase operational sustainability and save costs across its campuses. For the 110-year-old hospital, the choice to partner with MacDonald-Miller was easy. According to Dan Stokes, Swedish First Hill Facility Manager, “We looked at several other platforms out there, but MacDonald-Miller’s innovative approach and proven capabilities proficiency is what inspired our confidence. Not only could MacDonald-Miller discover energy draining issues in our facility, but they had the expertise to suggest solutions and determine the immediacy of the repair.”

Connecting building data with service technicians brings true business impacts

MacDonald-Miller helped Swedish Medical Center deploy a plan for achieving energy conservation and better ROI. Starting with its First Hill flagship campus, the design-build company undertook a thorough site audit to prioritize maintenance, repairs, and sequence changes. It then went to work implementing a preemptive maintenance and sustainability plan.

By using Microsoft technologies like Azure IoTDynamics 365, and Power BI, MacDonald-Miller was able to deploy technicians on site with wearable technology and real-time photos and video diagnostics in order to address faults. “When a fault comes up, the technicians are provided prioritized areas they need to focus on. This reduces their troubleshooting time so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Cañas. “Instead of four hours troubleshooting an issue, it’s now taking two hours.”

Using the ICONICS analytics platform on top of Azure enabled MacDonald-Miller to save Swedish Medical Center’s First Hill campus just over $350,000 in energy (fan power, electricity, water, and steam) costs during a 12-month period. By reducing its troubleshooting discovery time, the hospital saved an additional $75,000 in avoided costs by detecting hidden energy anomalies quickly.

“By assisting Swedish through remote monitoring, we receive operational fault alerts from ICONICS and convert into reviewable service cases within Dynamics 365, which allows our Field Service to proactively triage and manage in cooperation with the Swedish Facilities staff,” says Cañas. “Prior to ICONICS, neither Swedish nor MacDonald-Miller had the tools in place to continuously, and proactively, monitor and diagnose the health of the building; it’s a game-changer.”

Real digital transformation driven by Azure

Through Azure IoT, Dynamics 365, and ICONICS analytics, MacDonald-Miller has built a powerful platform for managing complex smart building data and field service. The energy savings the design-build firm has achieved for Swedish Medical Center in just one year are impressive.

  • Operational sustainability now covers three campuses totaling 2.8 million square feet.
  • Energy savings of $350,000 over 12 months, which exceeds annual projected savings expectations.
  • In October 2019, the hospital was awarded an innovation award by the U.S. Department of Energy for New Installation of Fault Detection & Diagnostics in the Healthcare industry. Sponsored by the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, the program recognizes exemplary installations of energy management and information systems (EMIS).

According to Davis, “With the increased focus for operational sustainability within the healthcare industry, Swedish wants to be on the forefront of innovation. Partners like MacDonald-Miller help us achieve our mission.”

Hospital sustainability is good for business. It shows that the organization is environmentally conscious and seeks the welfare of the local community. Sustainability also meets the goals of the Quadruple Aim by improving population health, improving the patient experience, improving the experience of providing care, and reducing cost of care.

Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) provides a critical path to hospital carbon savings. By using software and artificial intelligence, FDD applies a set of “smart” rules that monitor lighting, heating, and cooling systems, along with outlets and water. The system can then notify building personnel of equipment that runs too long, point out leaking valves, or identify faulty sensors that cause excess energy usage.

Looking ahead, MacDonald-Miller is exploring how to harness the power of Azure-based ICONICS solutions to learn about building spaces before going on site. Workplace safety is critically important to the company and virtual reality technology will significantly reduce risk to field technicians, especially in hazardous environments. As Rory Olson, Vice President of Service Operation at MacDonald-Miller, points out, “We’re developing ways for our customers to virtually see inside walls and above ceilings of their buildings, bringing unknown issues to the surface. We are going beyond talking about this capability, we are making it a reality.”

Based on its successful collaboration with Microsoft, MacDonald-Miller aims to continue applying digital transformation to healthcare and other new markets well into the future.

Article from Microsoft: Customer Feature

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