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However, there are still many steps hospitals can take to increase their profitability amid these economic conditions. Industry experts say that hospitals wishing to increase their profitability can focus on two key areas — reducing costs and increasing reimbursement.
Here are 10 best practices for increasing hospital profitability by reducing costs and increasing revenue and reimbursement. Reduce staffing costs by using data to drive staffing decisions. Because labor is the largest single expense for hospitals, it is critical that hospitals are not over- or under- staffing their facilities.
Hospitals leaders can cosider the use of flexible staffing, such as part-time or hourly employees, and adjust staffing based on patient census data.
Leaders should also monitor the efficiency of this staffing by continuously reviewing benchmarking data such as hours worked per case. Health System, says that her facility monitors patient volume on a daily basis and adjusts staffing accordingly.
Kevin Burchill, a director at Beacon Partners, a healthcare management consulting firm, agrees that staffing must be adjusted daily. Donna Worsham, COO of National Surgical Hospitals, suggests that hospital leaders share staffing efficiency benchmarking data with unit managers and provide feedback regarding the productivity of the unit.
Flexible staffing is especially useful for OR nursing staff. OR managers should review clock-in times versus surgery-start times and determine if their staff is consistently arriving before a surgery actually begins.
If this is the case, mangers can utilize flexible staffing to allow nursing staff to arrive later so that when surgeries run over, no overtime expenses are incurred, says Ms. Other facilities are saving in staffing costs by reducing benefits for full-time staff.
Goshen Health System, for example, deferred merit increases, reduced paid vacation time and suspended its retirement matching program in response to the current economy, according to Goshen's CEO, Jim Dague.
Goshen reduced employee dissatisfaction in response to these cuts by soliciting employee feedback on which benefits to reduce, thereby building organizational support for the changes.
In addition, Goshen's executives took a voluntary 20 percent cut in order to help sustain the system through the recession.
Joe Freudenberger, CEO of OakBend Regional Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, agrees that staff must buy in to any reductions in hours and shifts worked that will personally affect them in order for the hospital to remain successful. He says that hospital leaders must communicate the reasoning for these changes to the staff before making them.
Hospital leaders must take a close look at their business before making cuts.
Doing so will trim some fat but will cut meat and bone in other areas," says Mr. He suggests that hospitals assess each program individually and determine which ones are what are winners and losers.Recruiting is expensive and takes a long time, and even when you do find a candidate, you can’t be sure if they’ll fit in your culture and stay.
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