May 17, 2020

Why Your Hospital Should Invest in BIM Technology Right Now

Big Data
Hospital Operations
Big Data
Hospital Operations
4 min
The biggest opportunity in using BIM is connecting space and asset data to business operations data.
Many architecture and engineering firms have invested in BIM technology and workflows in the past five years. Many of our clients have also embraced BIM...

Many architecture and engineering firms have invested in BIM technology and workflows in the past five years. Many of our clients have also embraced BIM to support their facility management needs. What can design firms and owners do right now to increase the ROI of BIM?

1. The “I” in BIM will really start to mean something. 

Designers, constructors and building owners will leverage the information that is right in front of them to add value to the building they are producing.

The biggest opportunity is not merely the managing of a facility with a model in the background, but connecting space and asset data to business operations data. It is often stated that the design and construction costs of a facility are dwarfed by the cost of operating that facility.

It is important to point out that it is even more common for business operations costs (and profits) to dwarf the combined cost of design, construction and operation. This sets the stage for the AEC industry to help our clients work smarter by leveraging the operational data and facility data. It’s our job to demonstrate this value.

2. Room and Furniture, Fixture, & Equipment (FF&E) validation between the client’s requirements and what’s in the design via robust data analysis. 

Great tools like dRofus, Affinity and CodeBook are already here to help us analyze our models to prove to our clients what’s in the project is what’s on the requirement list.

All too often I see teams not using the model to check against the program from the client. We know we can do it with brute force because that’s how we’ve done it for years, but that’s not enough. We can do better by leveraging what’s in the model. Even if only a few pieces of equipment are not the way they were intended, that’s a few pieces too many.

3. Better utilization of FF&E assets via RFID, Ultrasound and similar tracking technologies. 

This technology has been utilized in forward thinking institutions for years. But designers are not getting access to this data so they can learn from the past and apply it to their current projects. Today’s BIM authoring and analysis tools already have the capability to pull in data from other sources.

In a hospital for example, why not use it to see where all the stuff actually ends up, or what gets used, or what gets swapped out and how often. Imagine connecting the location and the model number of a piece of equipment, and having the manufacturer’s 3D component automatically downloaded and loaded into a simulation BIM to see what really happens to our “perfect” layouts. It may explain why so much equipment ends up in corners and corridors.

4. Real-time visualization and simulation via cloud computing. 

Autodesk, and others, have built great cloud computing platforms where we can click a button and have rendering and simulation done, in almost real time, while we continue to work. Sometimes these cloud computing results are so fast and back on your screen you don’t even have time to grab a cup of coffee. Some may not think this is progress. This next big thing may be evidence of “too much of a good thing.”

5. More Design-Assist relationships between design firms and specialty constructors by passing high value model data back and forth.

We don’t see nearly enough of good model sharing between designers and specialty contractors such as elevator & escalator, curtain wall or any other complex system that is manufactured, supplied and sometimes installed by the same company. More often than not we see simple 2D CAD drawings inserted in models to represent this data, leaving too much to chance when it comes to coordination.

6. Building owners will start using the model now that they have it. 

It is very common in the last few years for owners to require a model be turned over to them from the project team at the completion of a project. I see this as an opportunity to help owners create value out of their data. They are looking to us to help solve their facility needs.

It is my opinion that the above items are not being used, not because they don’t add value to the design process, but because it’s all too common for architects, designers, engineers and building owners/operators to adopt technology too slowly. We change based on a slow thawing of our resistance to doing something in a different way with a different tool, but I’m convinced that it’s this slow pace of change that causes us to miss any positive return on investment. I do see the leaders of our industry using these items, but most of these technologies and processes should be common practice. Anything less and we’re not fully delivering the value that is right in front of us.

Robert Mencarini, AIA, is Principal and Practice Area Leader – Design Technologies with Array Architects. He can be reached at [email protected] or @RobertMencarini. For more information, visit


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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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