ALTIUS is back with the third installment of our ALTIUS Answer/Asks interview series. In this segment, our team gained insight on trending topics and industry challenges through our ALTIUS Asks interview with Dr. Sheri Matter, Assistant Teaching Professor for the Graduate Nursing Program and the Director of the MSN online programs and the DNP Leadership program at The Pennsylvania State University.
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.
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 these trying and unstable times, one thing has been evident; people have the innate ability to rise to a challenge with #positivity and professionalism. More than ever, it is critical that #healthcare leaders recognize the contributions and sacrifices their staff are making to ensure the health of the communities they live in and the prosperity of the organizations they serve. The ALTIUS team focuses on educating and elevating our clients, encouraging them to support each other by celebrating their #successes.
Many healthcare leaders adopt a "tough love" approach when managing employee performance and expectations. This method may work well for some staff members, but not all will embrace the negativity it can create. Understanding your team and the styles they respond positively to is critical in realizing continued operational success and employee satisfaction.
We are all familiar with the term “death by meeting.” It refers to the seemingly endless cycle of leaders having meetings to prepare for other meetings during which strategies are discussed that require more meetings to implement! It’s exhausting to say, let alone live. Instead of having a positive impact on operations, it has quite the opposite effect.
What does "Best Practice" mean in the healthcare environment? Just as in any other field, "Best Practice" is the commitment to using all the knowledge, processes, data, and technology at one's disposal to ensure success. However, let's take that one step further and note that this success must be realized in the most efficient manner possible to make a difference to your organization's bottom line. Controlling costs through the proper utilization of resources and minimization of waste are ways that hospitals and health systems are achieving "Best Practice" status.
The months leading up to a fiscal year turn can be stressful enough. In light of the current climate, healthcare organizations are faced with even more significant challenges. Any preliminary volume and staffing projections previously in place are now being cast aside and re-evaluated based on new strategies to restore financial stability.
When the ALTIUS team has an initial conversation regarding performance improvement with a hospital’s senior leaders, they are often unsure of what led to their current financial challenges. The reality is that it is never one decision, one hire, or one situation that deteriorates an organization’s bottom line. It can be the choices made day-to-day within the silos of the organizational structure, delaying difficult decisions, and/or a lack of accountability that leads to the overall decline.
The financial impacts of COVID-19 are unprecedented, crippling the operations of most healthcare organizations and leaving leaders to answer serious questions about strategies for stabilization. One of the quickest, most effective solutions is through workforce optimization. Improving performance by enhancing productivity and implementing processes to control labor costs will help hospitals and health systems to rebound in a systematic way that not only meets patient demand but ensures the right resources are in place to provide the best care.