HELP WHERE HOSPITALS NEED IT ®
HELP WHERE HOSPITALS NEED IT ®
Community Hospital Blog
by Jim Coleman, CHC SVP of Southeast Hospital Operations
Rural and community hospital leaders – at the forefront in meeting community healthcare needs – frequently encounter challenges that may significantly impact operations and an organization’s long-term financial viability. From variations in patient mix to marketplace mergers and legislative reform, the environment continues to change.
To better position your facility for success, here are some best practice tips to strengthen access to care and delivery of services. Market customization, operational performance, and collaboration opportunities should be at the top of the list.
Customize your hospital’s action plan to your market
Use market demographics and payer mix data to think “outside the box” – every community is different. What works for one hospital may not be right for another. Adopt a strategic approach to evaluating new services and programs. Here are a few specific ideas that have worked for several CHC Consulting clients:
Plan for the future
Annual strategic planning is vital to long-term success. The process should include an environmental assessment reviewing marketplace health needs along with medical staff planning. Proactive retention, succession planning and recruitment efforts are especially important in smaller markets where it can take longer to fill vacant positions.
Improve operational performance
Labor is the largest portion of a hospital’s budget. This means it’s critical to closely monitor and manage labor. Analyze staffing and match your workforce to the services needed; research scheduling options and cross-training opportunities to capitalize on efficiency. Could nurse practitioners, physician extenders or others benefit the hospital or community? In addition to labor, supply costs are one of the fastest-growing hospital cost centers. Carefully review your facility’s potential for savings on supplies and pharmaceuticals through a group purchasing organization (GPO) that specializes in community hospitals. Also, look closely at your revenue cycle for opportunities to improve revenue capture and collections.
Team up with area providers and agencies to meet community needs
Collaborative efforts including clinical affiliations with other hospitals or systems can improve population health management and care delivery. For instance, an affiliation agreement could bring a needed physician specialist to your community, a reasonable alternative to recruiting and supporting a medical practitioner on a full-time basis.
Government support can also improve access to community-based health care to broaden the services you provide. State and federal grant dollars support clinical and preventive services such as mammograms; funding is available for telemedicine services and health information technology as well.
By Jill Bayless, CHC SVP Clinical Services
Improving a hospital’s financial performance seems relatively simple – it’s driven by decreasing costs and increasing revenue. In reality it’s quite complicated to optimize these factors while keeping quality care top of mind. One of the biggest challenges for hospitals is managing staff productivity, which means maintaining the right number and mix of clinical staff based on patient diagnoses and volume. Optimizing productivity is critically important because the cost of labor is the greatest expense for a hospital.
In our experience, almost every hospital has some room to improve staffing productivity. Here are some top-line recommendations to help a hospital department run more like a successful business.
Some additional tips on staffing and productivity:
CHC offers a comprehensive assessment to help clients take an in-depth look at productivity and staffing concerns. Learn more about CHC Operational Assessment Services.
Hospitals across the nation are seeking ways to assess and improve staff productivity. CHC Consulting, the management and consulting arm of Community Hospital Corporation, now offers a proprietary CHC Productivity Tool™ to help hospitals monitor labor expenses and maximize staff productivity.
Over two years ago, St. Mark’s Medical Center (SMMC) in La Grange, Texas, began to implement this process in order to help medical center leadership better oversee labor costs, benchmark performance and maximize productivity potential. SMMC leadership has embraced the productivity tool and has seen dramatic improvements.
“With hospitals looking to do more with less, productivity monitoring has given us the tool to accomplish this,” says Carol Drozd, St. Mark’s Medical Center, Chief Operating Officer. “Department managers now are able to review staffing on a daily or weekly basis and flex staff when volumes are low, thus avoiding layoffs.”
Since St. Mark’s began using the CHC Productivity Tool™ in FY 2009, they have seen a decrease of five percentage points in salaries and wages as a percent of net operating revenue.
CHC Consulting’s productivity assessment includes both onsite and desk top reviews as listed below:
The CHC Productivity Tool™ is web-based and customized for each client.
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