In most cases, losing power is annoying, but life moves on. However, in the case of a hospital or medical facility that needs power in order to provide care for patients in critical condition, losing power can mean a deadly situation. Thankfully, innovation in this space is providing more options.
Power Generators a “Must” in Healthcare Settings:
If you paid attention to what happened recently in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit, you should have an idea of the severity of the situation and the chaos natural disasters can leave in their wake.
Flood waters and storm damage have destroyed much of the city; people were forced to evacuate homes and businesses, leaving prized possessions behind to save themselves. Yet, despite the severity of the situation, Houston area hospitals weathered the storm.
“I haven't heard of any EHR breakdowns,” said Karen DeSalvo, former National Coordinator for Health IT, as she watched the situation unfold in Houston. “The Texas health system seems thus far to be resilient to the intense and unprecedented stress of Harvey. Like many hospital systems, they responded to lessons we learned in Katrina and they learned from Alison and are weathering the acute event. This is a reminder to all in the healthcare sector to build with climate resilience in mind.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said in every situation. When the power went out in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, backup generators didn’t kick in, leaving critically-ill patients without much-needed support. The same happened in San Diego in 2011 when a couple of generators failed in the midst of a blackout. It happened again in Connecticut during Hurricane Irene, as well as in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy.
As Dr. Arthur Kellerman, founder of the emergency department at Emory University, tweeted during Hurricane Sandy, “Hospital preparedness and well-functioning backup systems are a costly distraction from daily business, until they are needed. Like now.”
Thankfully, it appears that the healthcare industry is finally learning its lesson and placing a bigger emphasis on backup power. It also helps that there’s been a tremendous amount of technological growth and innovation in this space over the last few years.
Here are a few of the most promising trends:
- Smart Generators
One of the biggest shifts has occurred in how generators are monitored. We’re now moving in a “smart” direction, where monitoring is automated for better accuracy and more convenience. As Technavio Research explains, “The transition from analog to digital control technology has provided end-users with a better and reliable monitoring of fuel and coolant levels. Apart from this, the digital control systems allow the monitoring of battery life, engine oil, and temperature.”
- Bi-Fuel Portable Generators
Another interesting trend is the use of bi-fuel portable generators that provide significant fuel savings and are more environmentally friendly. While diesel still remains the leading fuel type in the generator market, natural gas is rising to prominence.
- Combined Hat and Power Generators
Another development worth keeping an eye on is the growth of combined heat and power (CHP) generators.
“CHP improves the overall critical infrastructure that includes systems, assets, and networks, which negatively impact the overall operation and safety of the people in any healthcare unit if in case these assets become non-functional,” Technavio Research notes. “In this way, CHP helps in mitigating the impacts of an emergency situation as it enables proper functioning of critical facilities without any interruptions.”
Power When You Need it Most
Whether it’s a blackout, natural disaster, or other unforeseeable situation that causes healthcare facilities to lose power, there’s no excuse for being unprepared. Thankfully, backup power generator technology is improving and a brighter future is on the horizon.