A recent article in the USA Today talked about hospital CEOs’ efforts in cutting out wasteful spending to not only increase the efficiency and profitability of their hospitals but also help lower the cost of healthcare, an obviously hot topic right now.
It discussed waste in supplies and use of staff’s time and how some hospitals are reducing inefficiencies using Toyota’s lean management system and reducing costs in patient care by 25% in one example. In fact, experts weigh in and say that if all hospitals could do save similar amounts it would save $400 billion on Medicare and another $1.3 trillion on the non-Medicare side. Those are huge savings and really what industry couldn’t probably do the same by being more efficient?
It leads me to think about the role of temporary staff in running a lean hospital. Just like you wouldn’t want supplies to go to waste (like the article mentions) and would be able to save money by having supplies on demand, you wouldn’t want to be overstaffed when your patient level doesn’t call for it and conversely understaffed when your patient numbers have increased. Having nursing staff on demand could be a huge savings and, if approached right, a huge efficiency increase.
Industry research has shown that hospitals are reluctant to use contingent staffing and will usually often only use it as a last resort. And some of the reasons listed are, training and orientation, staff cohesiveness and high costs.
Those reservations are understandable, but if you approach staffing as a lean management item it may make sense to take a second look at each area of reservation and create systems to deal with each one to take advantage of the cost savings that travel nursing staff can provide instead of seeing them as obstacles to nursing and allied health staff on demand. This could help you create a better work environment for your nurses and other healthcare professionals and in turn care for your patients better. And what a competitive advantage for your hospital that would be.
This post made me think of a few more related topics so keep an eye out. And I would love to hear your thoughts too.