It is hard to believe, but 2021 has proven to be as difficult a year, if not more so, than 2020 for the healthcare industry. Not only did hospitals and health systems have to work through steep financial and operational recovery strategies to try and equalize the effects of the pandemic, but they had to address further staffing/resource shortages, the impacts of natural disasters, increased labor costs, and prioritize employee emotional well-being all while continuing to manage new COVID surges. That is enough to make any leader skeptical of what 2022 will bring.
This time of year, checklists help manage the back-to-school madness. They provide structure and direction on preparing for the coming year, especially while parents and students alike are still preoccupied with maximizing the waning days of summer. Checklists are also effective in other areas – they transcend in application and detail the elements required and/or steps to be taken in order to reach a goal.
This is a question that many Americans have been asking themselves since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; is it better to stay home and visit with a doctor via a telehealth appointment, or is it worth it to venture into the office for a face-to-face visit? Born of necessity, the rapid expansion of the telehealth platform and its increasing popularity over the last 18 months have revolutionized the way that patients are receiving care. Telehealth appears to be one of the positive and lasting impacts of this mass-scale health crisis, widely adopted by providers as a commonplace treatment option. Though an in-person follow-up visit may eventually be required for some specialties, virtual visits have proven to provide the same level and quality of care as their in-person counterparts.
Staffing shortages have been plaguing the healthcare industry for years and were even further exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 on hospital operations. Not only were organizations scrambling to recruit and retain skilled nurses, but they also found themselves facing critical gaps in their Respiratory Therapy and Laboratory staff as well. To address the issue and secure the resources needed to effectively and safely provide care, hospitals and health systems began offering enticing, and in some cases exorbitant, sign-on bonuses.
Spring has sprung! This is the season of rebirth and reinvention. While some organizations are beginning their new fiscal year, others may be reviewing their Q1 performance or gearing up to start their budget process. Regardless of what category your hospital or health system falls into, it is essential to remember the impact productivity has on sustained improvement and continued fiscal strength.
You don’t need a leprechaun or the “luck of the Irish” to reap the benefits of a productivity management system. Healthcare organizations across the country are managing their COVID-19 recovery through productivity by appropriately aligning their resources with rebounding patient volumes and current community needs. Productivity initiatives promote high-quality care, cost reduction, patient/employee satisfaction, and sustainability.
Love is in the air, and in healthcare, change is always on the horizon. A focus on productivity and workforce optimization may be part of your organization’s 2021 initiatives, but you may be personally struggling with getting behind the proposed strategies. You are not alone – many industry leaders and professionals have a love/hate relationship with performance improvement.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Although I like to practice daily gratitude, gathering around the table once a year to share my blessings with friends and family holds special meaning to me. This year, as I prepare for a holiday impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I find myself even more grateful for the relationships and people that influence my life.
Many healthcare leaders believe that the term “minimum staffing” is the result of performance improvement initiatives aimed at doing more with less. It is actually a critical component of any department’s operations and should be considered in all productivity strategies and staffing-based decisions. Minimum staffing levels indicate the number of manhours across each job code category in a department, regardless of patient census or workload, necessary to operate safely and efficiently.
In the past five months, we as healthcare professionals have all learned a lot about the human spirit's strength and have been humbled by our ability as an industry to persevere during this crisis. We have also come to realize that COVID-19 is here to stay. This devastating virus is not merely a passing health anomaly that we are working to overcome, but instead a permanent change to which we must adapt.