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Leadership Priorities for Healthcare Reform Survival

Wayne Sensor, for HealthLeaders Media, February 4, 2011

Total hospital efficiency means the choreographing of all clinical and nonclinical patient movements and order execution in a manner that streamlines patient flow, logistics, and departmental handoffs, thus maximizing patient quality and safety. By achieving this choreography in all activities from admission to discharge, hospitals will be able to achieve predictive outcomes in an environment in which they have not existed previously. The end result is immediate, measurable and sustainable gains in system-wide operational performance and patient care results.

In short, total hospital efficiency moves from a focus of departmental process improvement to enterprise process improvement in support of system's overall vision, using the integrated workflow real-time feedback of a logistics technology platform.   This combination reduces the diffusion of logistical tasks that rob clinicians of time with patients, thereby improving the quality of patient care. As such, total hospital efficiency can transform a hospital's operations across numerous fronts.

Most dramatically, increased efficiency reduces the non-value-added wait times that patients experience throughout their stay. By eliminating unnecessary waits, patients move through the system more quickly and spend less time in the hospital. As every executive knows, reduction in average length of stay has dramatic implications on both financial performance and capacity. Not only does a shorter length of stay increase profitability and reduce resource consumption, it allows hospitals to utilize that patient bed more frequently, which adds capacity without construction or additional labor costs, further driving profitability.

Because payment and delivery reforms such as bundled and capitated payments will require hospitals to bear the financial risk of providing the right care at the right time, it is imperative hospitals achieve total efficiency prior to these changes being implemented. Doing so will enable hospitals to achieve a consistent level of quality and efficiency which performance and utilization risk requires. Conversely, failure to do so will put the hospitals' future at risk.   

As was recently noted in a HealthLeaders magazine column, Wall Street and traditional non-health companies like Stanley Black & Decker also see the opportunity in applying their expertise to reduce waste and improve efficiency in healthcare. Both PPACA and the HITECH Act require a new commitment among hospital leaders to optimize hospital operations if they are to succeed in implementing reform and establishing competitive advantages in a post-reform environment.

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1 comments on "Leadership Priorities for Healthcare Reform Survival"


Oscar Nelson (2/7/2011 at 11:41 AM)
The author is right. If we attempt to implement reform or HIT implementation on our broken systems, we won't do any good. We need to optimize them first. The idea of doing a whole system or the total hospital makes sense. Either way, more attention needs to be given to this.