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Think You're Operating at Capacity? Think Again

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, July 8, 2011

By re-engineering the best ways for patients to be moved through the system, the goal was to improve patient care and satisfaction, improve staff satisfaction, standardize employee roles, and improve communications across departments, hopefully yielding better decision making and financial benefits, among others.

For example, Van Bree says, care areas should be better able to prioritize how they take patients. An inpatient might have a final appointment with radiology before she's discharged. Yet she still has to wait in line with many others who are ahead of her in the queue, which might mean that discharge is delayed by hours, if not a whole day.

"If that patient goes first, we might be able to free up a bed," Van Bree says. "There's no way to tee that up right now, but a big part of this project is to take away that white space where we're really not advancing patient care."

Not only that, but this kind of work is likely going to lower the cost of any replacement facility that gets built, because the inefficiencies that exist now won't be baked in, she adds. 

"If you are in an old plant you can't avoid the question of rebuilding, but there's an appropriate hesitancy for anyone considering big building projects right now. We're trying to make sure that we're getting improvements we need from operations and that we are not asking our board to fund inefficiencies in our system," she says. "If cost per bed is $1-2 million, the difference between a 750 and 650-bed facility…well there's a lot of difference."


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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