By John Ziegler,
There are two different ways to view overall productivity when it comes to healthcare, there’s the productivity hospitals use to mark how “much” was achieved in a day: how many patients were seen/ how many units were completed; Then there is the productivity measuring how much the hospital actually accomplished- how much time was saved/ how many necessary and helpful solutions were completed. More simply put: how much money revenue the hospital is generating vs how much money the hospital is saving itself.
Despite extreme efforts on behalf of hospitals to implement the first productivity strategy, productivity numbers are still shrinking all over the country. Healthcare administrators may try and encourage physicians to do more and see more patients in order to increase hospital revenue- but that strategy is not working, and is only compromising patient care in the name of “productivity”. This may have been a more feasible strategy when Insurance was footing the bill, but since there continues to be an accelerated shifting of healthcare costs to the consumer in the form of deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance, this increased revenue results in bills patients cannot, or will not, pay anyway.
The best way hospitals can truly improve productivity without compromising care is to target our second form of productivity- getting more done for less costs.
The key strategy hospitals can use to give their patients better care for less money is Automation.
Automation is simply the technological process of performing procedures without human assistance. Technical applications can be used to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of processes currently being performed by humans – hospital employees.
Automation can reduce administrative costs (over 25% of hospital spending is put towards submitting and processing claims), help hospitals develop implementation strategies, improve system integration, and replace current documentation processes that contribute to doctor burn-out and take up hours of productive time.
The biggest argument against automation is that it can kill healthcare jobs- among one of the fastest growing industries. Years ago, hospitals could achieve more with less people- A hospital that had 2,000 employees twenty years ago may have 9,000 employees now- but still have the same number of hospital beds available and be treating the same number of patients.
If these fast-growing jobs are not contributing to overall patient health, do hospitals not have a responsibility to cut out unnecessary expenses in the name of patient care and the overall reduction of healthcare costs? If hospitals can use automation to increase productivity without compromising patient care, shouldn’t they? Automation of workflow allows more opportunity for allocating human resources to clinical care and much needed improvement to the patients’ financial experience.
John Ziegler, CFO of FinPay, LLC, has more than 20 years of senior financial leadership experience and has structured and negotiated over $400 million in business. Mr. Ziegler is committed to lending clients his extensive knowledge of effective risk management and benefit strategies