Hospitals doing more with less
A compelling PubMed article entitled “Retooling Without Layoffs” highlighted the great need of hospitals to intelligently cut expenses while maintaining their greatest strength: people.
What’s interesting is that the article was written in 1996, before either recession hit (the aim then was to retool in preparation for expected restrictions in the growth of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.)
What the successful hospitals in the article learned was that the pink slip usually isn’t the best way to achieve cost reductions.
With the medical industry once more in a severe crunch to reduce operating costs, hospitals are again looking to do more with less.
Here’s a look at some of those who are doing it well…
“We are going to improve something every day”
Those are the words John Toussaint, CEO of Wisconsin-based ThedaCare, told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. The company estimates that between 2005 and 2006, it cut costs at its hospitals by $22 million a year. By the end of the decade, it still had yet to lay-off a single person.
With physician fees 25% lower (minimum) than other hospitals in Southeastern Wisconsin, the corporation’s goal is to eliminate an estimated 20% to 30% of medical spending that does nothing to improve patient care.
To do this, the organization does things like: install special racks to cut down trips to the supply room for nursing employees, refining the process patients go through to get an X-ray, and organizing Friday morning meetings to talk with staff about what they did that week to make their healthcare setup more efficient.
Streamlining performance by letting patients do the evaluating
Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut plays soothing music and personally welcomes each patient. The psychiatric unit is furnished like someone’s house to eliminate anxiety. But that’s not what sets this facility apart by getting down to business on a modest budget:
Griffin is among a small number of hospitals that actually solicit and report quality information and patient satisfaction ratings on its website, via its ‘Performance Indicators’ section.
Influx of cash in an economic drought
In a year when most hospitals are lucky not to have to layoff workers into the double-digits, Kentucky’s most prominent hospitals have garnered $1.2 billion in expansion funds.
The score is due in-part to a major initiative to provide facilities for as many patient needs as possible in-state (in other words, to stem an undesirable tide of Kentuckians having to leave the area for the care they need) and in-part to smart procurement of funds.
Build it and they will come: Already-completed modifications to existing hospitals have already seen an increase in patients at these facilities – In some cases, as much as a 40% rise. University of Kentucky HealthCare specifically was also ranked one of America’s best hospitals by U.S. News and World Report.
Automate the lab, take a load off the people
In January 2002, Pensacola, FL Sacred Heart became one of the first hospitals in the Southern U.S. to implement a laboratory automation system, including a pre-processor, plus a track with connected instruments.
Sacred Heart plans to continue expanding its automation system, adding a second line with hematology and coagulation, and a 3,000 test tube refrigeration system connected directly to the automation line.
Other instances of automation
NorthEast Medical Center in Concord, NC has a team of more than 3,200 employees, including 275 physicians. Automation there has improved the organization’s laboratory departments with container management and auto-verification features. In a nutshell, with labs already strained due to staff cutbacks and increased hours, personnel there have a new lease on life, able to focus less on paperwork and more on doing their jobs well.
Know any clinics on a smaller scale that are doing more with less? Did we forget any larger facilities? Leave a comment below.