Much as the public may not want to acknowledge it, or even realize it, hospitals are businesses with expenses.
As noble and altruistic as their business services are – hospitals still watch their bottom line. Revenues and expenses are just as important to hospitals as they are to Fortune 500 companies but they have repercussions that extend far beyond a company's profit margin and shareholders. When hospitals operate under stressed conditions, patient care suffers.
As they face continued pressure to make a profit in tight economic times hospitals must cut costs. Personnel expenses represent the single largest chunk of hospital operating costs with the American Hospital Association reporting that nearly 2/3 of every dollar spent by hospitals goes to wages and benefits. Unfortunately, this puts a bull-eye target on those types of operating expenses and they wind up being targeted first when cuts are needed. That means more and more hospitals are making do with less staff and are faced with the struggle of maintaining quality service standards under these conditions. No healthcare professionals feel this pinch more than nurses.
Improved Productivity to Manage Expenses
Do more with less seems to permeate every industry these days and hospitals are no exception. But there is always opportunity to improve the way business is done to make the workday more productive. Nurses have direct contact with patients and represent the heart and soul of hospitals. They are on the floor and see first-hand where inefficiencies lie and have probably developed their own ways of dealing with them.
Here are three ways you could help improve productivity, thus managing hospital expenses, from the floor:
- Embrace Technology today's technology offers a great opportunity to improve administrative functions and streamline time-consuming processes. If you're still using paper to schedule shifts, you're wasting valuable hours needlessly. Today's technology puts power in the hands of the users where processes can be consolidated and middlemen eliminated.
- Communication is vital to improved productivity. How many times have you gone to take care of something only to find someone else has already done it? Open communication between nurses and supervisors and between nurses themselves can streamline processes and eliminate redundancies. Back and forth emails, flyers and sticky-notes aren’t cutting it.
- Empower & Educate staff to feel that they can take initiative to tackle problems that arise without fear of repercussions. Many are hesitant to take even simple matters into their own hands for fear of upsetting supervisors who rigidly adhere to a chain of command mentality. Empowered employees are more satisfied with their job, more willing to help and less susceptible to burnout.
The key to improving productivity in hospitals and across departments is to be flexible, work together instead of separately and communicate directly with one another.
Although you may not have it in your power to add any more staff to help take the load off, you do have the power to more effectively manage and work with the team you do have. And that's good for the staff as well as the patients they are caring for.