In today’s environment, it is safe to say that the majority of people would agree that personal health and fitness are key elements to living a long and happy life. However, for a large portion of the population, clean-eating and frequent exercise are not part of their current routine. In an effort to “battle the bulge” and get healthier, people turn to fad diets or quick fixes for immediate gratification. The longevity of such improvement is fleeting, unfortunately. Sustained weight loss and improved health come from a complete lifestyle change which takes concerted effort and dedication to accomplish.
Productivity management in healthcare can be viewed in a similar light. Most hospitals and health systems wait until they are “seeing red” and fiscal health is compromised before taking a closer look at performance-improvement opportunities through stronger labor management strategies. When bond ratings, job security, board satisfaction, and the bottom line are in jeopardy, healthcare leaders tend to develop a more aggressive outlook on workforce optimization and the need for immediate change.
No matter what the impetus, productivity management is a powerful tool that should be utilized, not just for its short-term impact, but for the lasting results it produces as well. When executed properly, productivity systems correctly align labor with volume demand and lead to more efficient, higher-quality output. Of course, the most notable gain will be achieved at the onset of such endeavors; the first few pounds are the easiest to lose after all! It is when labor management becomes an ingrained part of operations, a “lifestyle choice,” that the true effects are realized. Healthcare organizations that set performance goals, both global as well as departmental, frequently track progress, base staffing decisions on the ability to meet those goals and budget with continued performance improvement in mind enjoy healthy bottom lines year over year.
Being proactive and forward thinking when it comes to the health of the business of providing care is always best. However, when a more immediate cost-savings solution is needed, just make sure it doesn’t become a “yo-yo diet” for your organization. Avoid the urge to binge on quick initial results with no long-term plan in place to prevent old practices from causing future financial challenges. Choose the appropriate tools and techniques to achieve the desired outcome – a slender yet robust bottom line. Motivate and encourage your management staff to embrace the ideals of productivity and continued performance improvement in order to achieve and maintain your organization’s optimal fiscal health!