Essential to any Transition Planning effort is the Fit-Up process. Fit-Up is the process of ordering, installing, calibrating, testing and training of staff on furniture, equipment and medical supplies in preparation for Day 1 of operations in a new medical facility. The Fit-Up phase of a healthcare construction project is notorious for costly delays and project-endangering complications, especially if proper precautions are not taken. However, under proper guidance, the Fit-Up phase can represent a seamless transition and a bright future in a new facility. David Watters, Transition Planning Project Coordinator for HTS, Inc., offers project owners four tips on how to ensure your Fit-Up Process ends in success.

1. Coordinate Your Resources

To guarantee that a Fit-Up process starts off just right it is necessary to coordinate your resources first. This means establishing and organizing the core groups (Security, EVS, Facilities, Biomed, IT/IS, Equipment, Furniture and other) that will be essential to the Fit-Up process, including a task force and command, or help, centers. “Implementing a general command center, where anyone can call-in for help, meeting with facility managers to ascertain their support and technical assistance, and other services and resources, will ensure that your Fit-Up process is on the right track,” David explains. A lack of coordination from the upstart can lead to problems in organization later on. The Fit-Up phase should start at least four months prior to the opening day to account for any potential roadblocks.

2. Ensure Proper Facility Orientation

A project is only as good as its project members. To guarantee a proper Fit-Up, it is of utmost importance to engage in proper facility orientation, preferably before any project-related work begins. Because of the large amount of people a transition planning project demands, the Fit-Up process often requires a large-scale education program. This program should include training on various systems, equipment usage, and department-specific particularities. Due to the complexity of some of these processes, such as those involving expensive equipment, orientation should be thorough and a prioritized part of the process. The importance of proper facility orientation simply cannot be understated; a well-trained staff means a successful transition in the long-run.

3. Establish Safety and Security

Safety comes first. This should be obvious, but what we mean by safety is not only that of the individual, which is already very important, but also the safety of the facility itself. As part of the Fit-Up process, this is crucial for the well-being of your project. To ensure facility safety, orient your team on disaster preparedness, with various worst-case scenarios mapped out. Ensure that staff are prepared to respond to the various alarms and scenarios by providing training on the protocols and cheat sheets as easy reference.  Moreover, preparing the new building for use requires dealing with specialized and expensive equipment. It is imperative that the facility be secured with staff, processes and equipment to support the process.  Risking theft can ruin an otherwise problem-free project. A thorough coordination of security to ensure a successful process, including high-defense measures such as bag/backpacks checks when entering or exiting the building, use of Badged IDs, and a good equipment-tracking system.

4. Incorporate Technology

Incorporating technology into the Fit-Up Process is a requirement for a successful project. In today’s world, technology reigns as vital to any project’s success. You cannot afford to be left behind. Specifically, the use of tracking software for materials and supplies can aid in the procurement process by ordering the right materials at the right time as well as reducing the risk of theft and loss. Software ably equipped to aid in mapping out the Fit-Up process, can be an invaluable asset to the organization of the project.

Whether you’re the Project Owner or the Clinical Lead, creating a solid Fit-Up plan that incorporates these four principles will safeguard your project from any delays and ensure the highest standards of patient safety and satisfaction from the moment the first patient is admitted.

-David Watters, Project Coordinator, HTS, Inc. DWatters@consulthts.com