As we bid good riddance to the stress and uncertainty of 2020, it is safe to say that everyone is excited to begin the new year. However, the challenges of last year have helped to guide growth, both personal and professional. That is why it is more important than ever to use the start of 2021 as a time for reflection and evaluation, determining how to further improve upon a foundation forged in the chaos of the pandemic.
The healthcare industry, which felt the greatest impact, has the opportunity to take the strategies used to address the unique staffing and patient care demands experienced over the last 10 months to drive positive and lasting change. It goes back to the old saying, “work smarter, not harder!” While others are making resolutions aimed at “trimming the fat” or adopting a new look, hospitals and health systems should be focused on increased efficiency and optimization.
Here are 5 ways that healthcare organizations can make data-driven decision to improve performance and ensure continued sustainability:
- Identifying the Need: Improvement efforts are NOT just for organizations that are struggling financially. Every hospital and health system needs to identify areas with opportunity routinely. Leaders should frequently meet with their staff to determine what challenges need to be addressed and how operations can be performed more efficiently.
- Tracking Performance: To make continuous improvements, it is critical to know where your existing performance falls relative to historical volume and staffing trends. Global and department level Key Performance Indicators should be used to provide strong industry comparisons from which reasonable and attainable goals can be established.
- Creating a Continuous Process: Performance improvement is a journey, not a destination! Leaders should ensure that goals are routinely updated and are linked to the budget process. This will help to keep productivity at the forefront of management strategies and relative to current operations.
- Focusing on Incremental Change: Learning and implementing new practices can be daunting. People are comfortable with the “routine,” and change forces them outside of their comfort zone. To overcome obstacles, managers should focus on incremental change and strive to accomplish 1 to 2 meaningful action items each month. The combined efforts of all areas will result in improved operations overall.
- Generating Savings to Reinvest: By focusing on productivity and workforce optimization, healthcare organizations can produce significant cost-savings that can be reinvested back into staff (raises, bonuses, benefits, etc.), equipment, technology, and recruitment/retention efforts. Properly communicating how the organization will benefit from the efficiencies gained will encourage the adoptability of and accountability for proposed improvement strategies.
Healthcare leaders should welcome 2021 with positivity and embrace the new year as an opportunity to further evolve their organizations in this new environment. By remaining focused on performance improvement and increased efficiency, hospitals and health systems can continue to provide high-quality care in a fresh new way that better meets current demand.