Mediocrity is never a goal. No one ever aspires to be ordinary nor does any business strive to be average. Yet it is often the case as it becomes harder and harder to stand out and separate oneself from the ever-growing pack. In healthcare, there are certain standards that must be met in order to operate with a high standard of care. Quality, safety, compliance, and the ethical responsibility to treat all those in need dictate uniformity in the way that care is delivered. However, there are always those that seek to innovate and push the boundaries when it comes to the services offered and the delivery model selected. So how, in an industry of so many, can hospitals and health systems stand apart?
First, recognize strengths and capitalize on them – all organizations are not created equal. Identify what you do best and what drives the most revenue to the bottom line. Concentrate efforts on providing those services with high utilization rates more effectively and in a cost-efficient manner, eliminating those programs that solely exist as community satisfiers.
Second, focus on achieving both high patient and employee satisfaction levels – “word of mouth” can be the best marketing tool, but it can also be extremely detrimental to an organization’s reputation when negative views are being shared. Use labor management tools to ensure that all departments are properly staffed and flex to volume changes to avoid inefficiencies, staff “burn out,” and excessive cost.
Third, do not accept the median as your optimum level of performance. The median is mediocrity. Strive to develop and define the best practice performance levels appropriate for your facility, and hold managers accountable for meeting annual performance improvement goals. All departments and areas posses the opportunity to improve, and excuses such as “ we have always done it this way” and “that won’t work here” no longer apply in today’s competitive environment. If you have not looked for best practices externally, benchmark your facility against other similar organizations and identify opportunities to improve based on metrics and Key Performance Indicators.
Lastly, put an end to redundant practices or those simply completed out of habit – just because it has always been done, does not mean it should be done! Routinely evaluate operations and identify opportunities to streamline, improve, and/or automate. A fresh perspective or “outside” input can also be helpful in bringing new ideas to light.
While it is often easier to maintain the status quo, longevity is not a guarantee through that approach. Hospitals and health systems that have the drive to evolve through continuous improvement are those that operate on the cutting edge and secure successful futures!