Avoiding Productivity Pitfalls

Managing labor has become a delicate balancing act between providing the right level of staff and keeping expenses down. Implementing a meaningful staffing model while maintaining the unique values, beliefs, and overall culture of the organization should be a hospital’s primary focus to ensure sustainability. Productivity, however, is a concept that is not fully understood within the healthcare industry. For staff, this term often is equated to a reduction in force or an increase in responsibility. To the healthcare executive, it’s not always the most apparent solution to the declining volumes and increasing costs plaguing American hospitals.

Productivity should be what healthcare, or any business for that matter, is all about; a dedication to quality, smart preparation, and streamlined delivery. The execution of these ideals is where the catch comes in – not every organization is knowledgeable enough or has the extra time to implement a successful productivity system without some guidance. When developing an action plan, it is critical to know what you’re up against right from the start.

There are common pitfalls that hospitals encounter when trying to improve efficiency. Even though a hospital may have some form of productivity management system, one common mistake is failing to update existing staffing targets prior to the start of each fiscal year. Both departmental and global benchmarks must consistently represent realistic efficiency goals and should be tied directly to the current budget and strategic initiatives for results to be realized. Often, targets are implemented and then forgotten; managers lose confidence in the relevance of these targets, which are subsequently deemed useless.

Another pitfall concerning productivity management is that hospitals typically only measure or concentrate on specific departments. Whether it is clinical, ancillary, support, or administrative, every area should be considered, and staffing levels should be based on a variable indicator that fluctuates with workload changes. Only then can actual efficiency levels truly be reflected and meaningful improvements made.

The truth behind productivity is quite simple; when productivity management is made a priority, the organization can better control costs and improve margins. In contrast, when a hospital or business does not operate as efficiently as it should, the bottom line suffers. Poor experiences due to improper implementation have given productivity initiatives a lousy reputation. When handled correctly, the benefits can far outweigh any negative aspects.

To learn more about productivity and how ALTIUS can help your organization improve performance and adopt a culture of accountability, contact us today!

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