The Affordable Care Act and a slow economic recovery are forcing healthcare systems to reevaluate existing efficiency models. Transforming a healthcare system should yield cost and productivity savings, and these savings can be passed on to patients.
Looking at the efficiency planning process for a target audience of healthcare finance leaders, there are a few core suggestions:
-Align strategic imperatives for the company and physicians;
-Remember the company’s core area of business;
-Define a starting point and create clear objectives; and
-Develop a strategy that engages front-line employees to change the culture of the organization.
In other words, set clear objectives that align all employees with the strategic values of the company. The most fundamental piece of integration is the shared strategic plan. This will create efficiencies and in turn yield cost savings, reduce queue times, et cetera.
A provision of the Affordable Care Act that paves the way for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) will probably help to make large hospital systems and medical networks more profitable (for info on ACO’s, see my post last week). ACO’s emphasize quality, efficiency, and shared resources: a value-based system rather than a payment-based system.
Lowered Medicaid payments from the Federal Government are also forcing providers to look at ways to increase revenue without sacrificing quality. Another way to increase efficiency is to integrate support activities and coordinate care with physicians, which should increase quality of care while lowering costs.
How will improved quality benefit patients as well as hospital systems? Higher quality via increased efficiency and better communication between all employees will translate to reductions in the length of hospital stays. When better medical care keeps patients out of the hospital or reduces the time spent once admitted, the turnover rate is faster. This frees up more beds. For example, if you can reduce the length of stay by 10 per cent and you have 1,000 beds, you just created the equivalent of 100 beds every day. Improving throughput has massive benefits.