business checklist

Productivity Checklist

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. Checklists serve as reminders and instill accountability; they even generate a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when items are completed. In short, checklists are “mini” or condensed action plans meant to elicit immediate change. So why don’t we use checklists more readily?

In healthcare, a formal productivity checklist can keep improvement strategies on track and outline progress. It creates continuity among departments and gives leaders a strong tool for routine plan communication and transparency. Not currently using a checklist to manage your performance? The following are key fundamentals to include:

  • Establish a baseline or a starting point for assessment
    • The average level of performance for the present fiscal year, last fiscal year, or another designated timeframe
    • Evaluate performance departmentally as well as globally
  • Develop a strong peer group of “like” organizations to drive comparisons
    • Similar in size, service, and structure
    • Relative inpatient and outpatient mix
    • Comparable Medicare and Medicaid populations
    • High quality and patient satisfaction scores
    • Strong financial performance
    • Common geographic location
  • Include all areas within the organization
    • Leaving out select staff/departments can skew data and deviate from a true assessment of actual performance
    • All departments, whether they routinely flex to volumes or not, have an impact on operations and overall productivity
  • Select the right volume metric/workload unit for each department
    • One volume indicator should be used to measure productivity for each department or cost center
    • The metric chosen should be most indicative of the work that is being done within the area, understanding it will not reflect all functionality, and easily collected/reported
  • Set meaningful and realistic goals based on performance against comparative data
    • Develop targets through industry standards, historical performance, and peer-group comparisons
    • Consider using a decision rule designed to systematically move each department towards the next level of performance
    • Ensure that the target appropriately reflects the full staff complement, considering any current vacancies evaluating necessity
  • Link productivity goals to budget and other improvement strategies
    • Volume, staffing, and performance targets need to be considered to properly align the budget with strategic goals
    • Budgets should be dependent on current performance and expected volume growth or decline
    • Budgets should be based on “needs” and not “wants”
  • Build accountability and implement a structured reporting process
    • Install quarterly/monthly/biweekly/daily reports as needed to track progress
    • Provide leadership education on managing and understanding reports
    • Require all levels of management to respond to variances against goals promptly
    • Recognize and reward achievements made to continuously motivate management/staff and encourage further progress
  • Update both comparisons and targets routinely to ensure continued efficacy and sustain results
    • Productivity is a continuous process – performance improvement goals should be updated annually in sync with the budget process
    • Re-benchmark as necessary to ensure external performance comparisons are in line with current operations and improvement initiatives
    • Keep improvement at the forefront of management strategies by communicating how the organization will benefit from the efficiencies gained
    • Offer Best Practice approaches as “roadmaps” to the performance improvement journey

ALTIUS assists our client hospitals and health systems in their efforts to improve current operations through the use of productivity data and enhanced leadership education. We provide the support needed to assess current performance, derive meaningful benchmarks, and implement an effective productivity system that generates lasting results.

To learn more, reach out to us today!

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