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Efficient Staffing Doesn't Mean Heartless Care

By Lena J. Weiner  
   May 01, 2017

Improving efficiency doesn't have to mean extinguishing the heart or the soul of the hospital.

Do more with less. Run lean. Cut costs. Thrive in change.

These expressions and sayings have been said so many times over the last decade that they've become healthcare clichés, but that doesn't mean that they don't strike fear in the hearts of hospital clinicians.

"Efficiency" and "good for the bottom line" tend to be synonymous with layoffs, downsizing, and other strategies that aren't exactly people friendly, but one hospital CFO says that done right, efficiency works in everyone's favor.

"I know this is weird coming from a CFO, but I'm genuinely not looking to cut staff, and I'm not looking to take time away from the patients' bedside. What I am doing is asking how I can give [clinicians] more time to do things that are adding value to our patients," says Andrew Wampler.

He is vice president and chief financial officer at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, NC. In a recent interview he spoke about how efficiency can benefit everyone in the hospital.

1.Shrinking Costs and Operating More Efficiently

Staffing and people are for most hospitals, their greatest cost, accounting for up to 50% of operating costs. It's really top of mind for them," Wampler says.

Additionally, there is the perennial struggle of ensuring the right staffing levels in the face of tighter budgets. "The struggle is making sure that organizations have enough people, and that those people are the right people."

But by keeping turnover down and staff engagement high, hospitals can save themselves time and money, he says. The key is to keep workers engaged and occupied with the right level of work. Turnover and overstaffing are costly and time-consuming.

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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