When working to improve your hospital’s operational efficiency, the task can seem daunting. The pressure to cut costs is ever-increasing, and it is your responsibility to increase productivity without compromising the quality of patient care.
There are cost-effective steps that can improve hospital efficiency without cutting corners or sacrificing quality. From implementing technology to focusing on patient flow, we will detail some areas of focus when considering how to improve hospital operational efficiency.
First and foremost, it is essential that patient flow be made a top priority. Every other area we discuss ties back in some way to patient flow. When you have a backlog of patients waiting for beds or care, while other patients sit waiting to be discharged, it is impossible to be efficient.
Prioritize Patient Flow at all Levels
The focus on patient flow must be a top-down mentality, where executives understand its importance and make it a priority. Only by having this mentality at the top will it ever be truly prioritized across departments.
In order to emphasize its importance, metrics detailing patient flow should be discussed side-by-side with financial metrics at board meetings. The connection between this essential area of productivity and the financial health of the institution must be understood by those making financial decisions, so that it remains a priority during budgeting.
Beyond the boardroom and executive discussions, make patient flow a priority at every level within your hospital, and particularly your emergency department. Have weekly meetings discussing how this is going, and welcome communication regarding anything nurses or anyone else on the ground floor has noticed is impeding patient flow.
Emphasize Communication as a Goal
While this is an important consideration in every area of hospital management, it is particularly important to discuss when it comes to patient flow and related efficiency. It is so easy for backups to occur, and they often seem inevitable. One department blames another, and that becomes the status quo. If inefficiency is expected, and the reasons behind inefficiency are never discussed, things will never get better.
Encourage communication both between and inside of each department. Schedule regular meetings to discuss the common causes of delays. Ask those working in the trenches how things could go better — they are often the ones who will know the minutiae of what exactly is causing slowdowns.
Create clear methods whereby information and suggestions can be shared, and make sure that no one thinks that sharing information will impact them negatively. A hospital that has smooth patient flow benefits everyone, so be open to all suggestions and make managing the information you receive as part of this process a priority.
Invest in Services to Improve Patient Flow
Services such as hospital concierge and valet parking may seem like luxuries, but they both remove the burden of providing information from your front-desk staff and nurses and help to encourage patient timeliness for scheduled appointments and procedures.
Hospital concierge employees can provide assistance at a number of levels, including:
- Greeting patients and guests and providing location information
- Coordinating friend and family visits
- Handling administrative requests that might otherwise land on your staff
Hospital valet provides a safe and easy way for patients with limited mobility or those running late for appointments to park. A hospital parking systems management company can combine valet services with parking garage and lot management in order to decrease stress and improve timeliness for your patients, visitors, and employees.
Any are where you can outsource things like this that can help your hospital flow more efficiently is certainly worth considering.
Invest in Technology
Using technology to your advantage is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to increasing hospital efficiency. You are likely in the process of or have already all but eliminated paper, and are growing your database of patient information. If you haven’t, that is the first step you should take, but there is much more that you can do with technology to improve hospital efficiency.
One key investment to consider is asset tracking software for equipment. Particularly in tightly stretched departments, namely the emergency department, patients can spend extra time sitting in beds simply because your staff is waiting on equipment to be available. Or you might find your departments bypassing this issue by buying more equipment than is necessary, so that it can always be located when needed.
Further utilize software to track bed status. Becker’s Hospital Review notes that “by implementing both technical and human process changes…hospitals [can] immediately [know] when a patient bed is available and ready to be cleaned, benchmark the time it takes to turnover rooms, have real time data on available beds so new patients can be assigned and in a bed within 1-2 hours and benefit from less congested emergency departments and the additional revenue that comes with quicker turnover.”
While some hospitals have kept up with technology, most are many years behind in fully utilizing technology to improve operational efficiency. By allowing the initial time and investment to incorporate systems like these, exponentially more time and money will be saved due to efficiency improvements.
Though there are many steps you can take to improve your hospital’s operational efficiency, it is clear that many of them are closely related. By focusing on patient flow and investing in systems that will help to improve it, you will see your efficiency and productivity improve.
FC Valet’s professional hospital valet, parking system management, and healthcare concierge services can help you improve patient flow and satisfaction. Contact us today to discuss how we can improve your hospital’s bottom line.