The healthcare industry is no stranger to change, or risk, or regulation. In 2017, though, uncertainty has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s anyone’s guess which regulations will be eliminated, or if bad debts will increase due to lower coverage. Now is probably not the time to place your bets on what Congress and the new president will do. Instead, focus on these five ways to navigate uncertain times.
Do what you do best. A nine-year study published in the Journal of Health Care Finance found a correlation between specialization and the decline in unit cost per hospital admission. Instead of spreading your resources thinly across product lines, focus on the products that give you and your patients the most bang for the buck. To determine which products you should keep and drop, start by drawing four quadrants, labeling them as shown in the chart to the right. Plot all your product lines in their corresponding quadrants. You will keep those product lines that fall into the High Impact, Low Cost section. You should question the value of the product lines in the High Impact, High Cost area. Consider keeping the Low Impact, Low Cost lines, and drop the Low Impact, High Cost products. This method will allow you to save money while providing quality care to your patients.
Get organized. Scrutinize your policies and procedures. When the entire staff knows what to do and where to find the answers to their P&P questions, tensions naturally lower. Make sure your policies and procedures are up-to-date, clean, easy to find and accessible. Investing in policy and procedure management software can actually save you money. Check out PolicyStat’s ROI calculator to see an estimate of your return on investment.
Optimize your areas. Using the 5S approach to optimize your workspaces will free up space, help you effectively manage inventory and save time wasted looking for items. Use the following prompts to guide you through the process:
- Sort. Separate items that are used from the unnecessary and expired items. Donate or recycle what you can from the unneeded items.
- Set in order. Everything must have a place. Once in place, label designated shelves, bins and drawers to help staff quickly locate and retrieve needed items.
- Shine. Clean all areas as you go. Pay attention to and note places where cleaning standards are not being met or need changed.
- Standardize. Create standard protocols for maintaining and monitoring the efforts you put forth in the previous steps.
- Sustain. Repeat the process as often as necessary to maintain optimum efficiency.
Keep your eye on the prized employees. Great employees can make a world of difference in uncertain times, but they will also leave if they are left in the dark. Maintain an open-door policy and be transparent about organizational changes instead of letting rumors abound. But don’t stop there. Discover what is valuable to your employees and create an environment that satisfies their needs. Some common retention strategies are:
- Flexibility in scheduling. Allow employees to schedule around family activities and create a float pool to cover shifts during busy times. If your organization is open day and night, create a variety of shifts to accommodate individual preferences such as longer shifts for fewer days and shorter shifts for more days.
- Show appreciation for a job well done. Ask managers to point out excellent performers, personally thank them and/or write a brief thank you note to show your appreciation. Additionally, publicly recognize employees in meetings and newsletters.
- Offer integrated care programs. Healthcare jobs can be particularly stressful. Offer programs that take a holistic approach to wellness. Offer yoga, massage, counseling and nutrition classes for employees. If you already offer such programs to patients, you can simply expand the programs to include employees.
- Use employee surveys. Identify employee concerns by encouraging them to complete short surveys. Share the results and communicate how you will address the concerns.
Use technology to your advantage. Virtual doctor visits through live video conferencing have proven effective for diagnosing acute conditions while being cost effective. A study from the Alliance for Connected Care, found that 83 percent of patient conditions were solved by a virtual visit at an estimated savings of $100 or more per visit. Using telemedicine to confirm a diagnosis, get a second opinion and transfer diagnostic images between providers are practical ways to use technology. Having patients transfer or upload information regarding blood pressure, blood sugar levels or pacemaker testing to a clinic or physician’s office can significantly reduce the number of patient office visits for chronic conditions.
STRIKE A BALANCE
By focusing on your organization’s core strengths, building up your talent and adding efficiencies into your processes, you will be well-balanced and prepared to withstand change. Do you have more tips for navigating uncertain times? We’d love for you to share them with us on social media! Reply to this post on our Facebook or Twitter page to share your experiences.