5 CFO-Friendly Pediatric Care Strategies

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , December 15, 2010
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In its surgical program for infants, the hospital uses recycled instruments and has improved procedures that have resulted in reduced time for surgeries, with at least 25% improvement within the past five years.


"From a business standpoint, you are reducing significantly the cost related to resources---the operative costs are dramatically reduced," Lukish says.

Noting that minimally invasive surgery began in cosmetic fields, "in pediatric surgery, we are less concerned about cosmetics and really the focus is the reduction of pain," Lukish says. "It is very significant for the outcome and recovery of children. If you minimize the surgical insult, that child will recover much quicker than a child with muscle splitting incisions. Whenever a child feels pain, it's an assault physically and psychologically."

Using small instruments in microscopic surgery "is the real future for novel medical applications," he says. "In a business sense as a clinician, it reduces pain, folks are happy, back to normal." The process is becoming more efficient over time and resulting in cost savings, Lukish says.

Success Key No. 2: Sterilization processing
The Akron Children's Hospital uses a system to improve quality and reduce costs in sterilization processing procedures for surgical instruments in the operating room, according to Watson.
The process allowed the hospital to eliminate the need for the $3.5 million expansion and allowed for an increase of 3,000 surgical procedures in a reconfigured system. The process also has resulted in increased clinical efficiency, improved outcomes, and improved patient satisfaction in radiology programs.

The hospital needed to change its system because it faced a significant challenge in the use of surgical instruments in a high-volume setting. "In a hospital, when things aren't moving fast enough, everybody wants more people. That was one of the mantras of the doctors, who said, 'You've got to get more people to clean the instruments.' That wasn't the problem," says Watson. "The problems hospitals today face are process problems and not people problems."

The hospital's Lean effort has been employed for more than a year and has accumulated data to prove its effectiveness. The process, a detailed system that allows the hospital to consistently break down the components of each employee's work, enables leadership to periodically review data and make changes to improve patient outcomes and hospital return on investment. Beyond employees is equipment.

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