4 Ways Hospitals Can Boost Efficiency
Hospitals can benefit from improving their efficiency strategies not only to deliver better patient care, but also to service more patients and retain their best workers. From investing in communication technology, equipment tracking systems to telemedicine, there are many ways hospitals can increase efficiency.
Here are four ways how:
Invest in communication technology
According to Accenture, US hospitals waste up to $12 billion a year due to poor communication systems. The most prominent cause of poor communication can be attributed to lapses in communication between patients and doctors. Other than that, miscommunication can happen when medical records are transferred from one department to another. Incorrect transfer of information can result in the ineffective medical treatment of a patient.
According to Healthcare Innovation, hospitals can leverage on several communication technologies to enable better practices.
- Two-way communication – Traditional systems like paging may not bring needed assistance on the first try. If the doctor doesn’t respond, there’s no way of telling whether they have received the message. A two-way communication system allows doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff to confirm receipt and availability quickly, with little effort.
- Multi-modal solution – When it comes to communication in the hospital, flexibility facilitates both implementation and adoption. A multi-modal solution allows the staff to communicate with technologies they already know, including voice, text, page, email, and fax.
Invest in your employees
Nurses and doctors often feel overworked and underappreciated, which can be detrimental to the hospital’s efficiency.
In every healthcare facility, it’s absolutely important to invest in your staff. According to The Advisory Board Company, 20 percent of hospital employees are either ambivalent or disengaged, while 40 percent are merely content. Moreover, the turnover of a doctor can cost an organization up to $200,000. On the other hand, the turnover of a nurse can cost up to $58,400.
Hospitals are so focused on delivering patient care that they sometimes forget the people who provide that care.
Here are three ways healthcare organizations can improve retention:
- Provide education allowances – Provide tuition reimbursement and stipends that will help nurses, PT’s, and medical technologists further their education.
- Acknowledge loyalty – One of the best retention strategies is to validate your staff’s loyalty by not only acknowledging, but also rewarding them for their service in the hospital. To encourage your employees to stay, give them real job incentives. For example, tenured employees can be given extended vacation time. Cash bonuses can be given to departments who consistently meet organizational goals.
- Don’t overwork the staff – According to Health Affairs, nurses who work shifts longer than 12 hours are 1.45 times more likely to quit their jobs in less than a year. Karlene Kerfoot, in an article published in the Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, said that hospitals must make a fundamental culture change: from “overtime being the rule to overtime being an exception.” She added that if hospitals implement measures to reduce shift length, nurses won’t feel obligated to work extended hours.
Use equipment tracking software
A survey conducted by Cardinal Health revealed that missing supplies can cause delays in patient care, according to 69 percent of respondents, which included frontline clinicians, hospital and supply chain administrators and operating room supply chain decision-makers.
The survey added that issues surrounding hospital supply chains led to bad patient outcomes. Twenty-three percent of respondents said a patient experienced an adverse event because the correct supplies weren’t available during point-of-care.
Manual supply chain management systems were found as the top challenge for hospitals. More than 80 percent of hospital managers still rely on manual inventory management for some parts of their supply chain.
With automated hospital inventory management systems, managers can ditch confusing paper trails for more efficient online records.
Several cloud-based tracking platforms have alert systems that send out notifications when stocks are running low. You can set minimum threshold levels to send out alerts whenever stock is low.
On the other hand, some platforms use barcodes and radio-frequency identification (RFID) to tag items. A unique identification (ID) number makes an item easier to find in the storage room. This reduces the risks of theft and misplacement of hospital equipment.
More and more healthcare providers are increasing their reliance on telemedicine services to improve patient care.
Improved patient access to care is one of the most notable perks of telemedicine. Whether it’s because the hospital is too far, a patient has mobility issues, there’s a lack of transportation, among others.
The University of Maryland Medical System offers various telemedicine programs to nearby hospitals, including telecardiology, telestroke, fetal consultations, and emergency pediatric care. They found that telehealth increased hospital efficiency, allowing a practice to see five or six patients in an hour.
Furthermore, telehealth options may attract new patients to a new clinic. The Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey found that as much as 20 percent of patients would switch healthcare providers if another provider offered telemedicine options.
Efficiency is one of the keys to delivering best-in-class patient care. Communication technology, employee investment, equipment tracking systems, and telemedicine are just some of the areas a hospital can look at to improve efficiency.