Healthcare Operations play a significant role in supporting the core functions of administrative, financial, legal, and quality enhancement activities essential to running the business.
Along with the activities mentioned, case management, care coordination, business management, and general administrative activities are also incorporated.
How is Operations Management leveraged in Healthcare?
There are innumerable forms of healthcare operations. It encompasses a spectrum of administration to delivery of care. Following are the illustrations of the areas that are put on an advantage from operations management.
- Clinical Care Management
The main focal point of the healthcare industry is its service. When an organization involved in this service industry makes a valuable attempt to standardize protocol, the performance is also improved.
- Risk Management
In the medical profession, risk management is requisite. The risk management will mitigate and optimally manage the risks, which will serve fruitful in two key areas; patient satisfaction and cost-effectiveness. Usually, risks in healthcare settings are aligned from patient or staff injuries to the increasing cost of exorbitant services. The hospitals can cut down their extravagant costs and also strengthen patient satisfaction by leveraging predictive analytics technology.
- Financial Management
Hospitals and medical practices have numerous issues in controlling costs. The expenditure issues consist of unnecessary treatments and medication prescriptions, treatment of uninsured patients, and reduction in the budget that impacts the staff’s equipment, technology, and salary. Healthcare operations management handles the removal and optimizing of the expenses.
What is Operational Excellence?
The term operational excellence is associated with efficient healthcare operations. Healthcare providers are becoming more aware and dotted towards applying more time and resources to better clinical operations. Operational excellence in clinical field prevalence is from the top that refers to the stakeholders.
Still, it depends on the staff’s mindset and works ethics at every organizational level. By crafting and maintaining excellence, the medical team can productively respond to immediate changes in the administration. This will also not compromise their organization’s end goals.
When the hospitals achieve operational excellence, the changes in the process can result in increased functional competence, drop-in clinical variability, and escalated care quality. The professionals will also sustain the industrial and technological trends, corroborate modernized practices, and provide the best care to the patients irrespective of their diagnosis, medical needs, etc.
Reduce Slacking with Healthcare Operations Solutions
Industry trends are in dire need of evolving and adapting set healthcare regulations, processes, strategies, and protocols. Innovation in healthcare technology will lead the trends in the industry when the reckoning of the patient and the industry changes, healthcare operations have to change to accommodate them.
Irrespective of the software you select to curb your inefficiencies, it will aid in addressing and resolving them. This will draw the attention of the medical staff from dividing their efforts and align them in their basic service: caring for the patient.
- Capturing the Data
The process of capturing and reporting about the facility and patient data can be tiring. Electronic health records and clinical communication software provide minimal help. The main focus is whether your practice is interoperable or not. If it isn’t interoperable, you will have to adhere to disparate data sources that need to be reconciled. Capturing data effectively will assist compliance and auditing. It will drive critical business decisions and will keep your organization ready for any unforeseeable crisis.
- Decrease in Clinical Variability
The delivery of care is affected by clinical variability. It will ensure that inventory levels, supply expenditure, and workflow are accurate. With the reduction in clinical variability, not one aspect of medical organization will be left behind from receiving the benefits. This will have a positive effect on both staff and patients.
- Productiveness in EOC
EOC stands for Environment of care. It comprises three cornerstones; physical space, the facility’s layout, equipment used to strengthen the support delivery of care and building operations, and most importantly, the people that make up the activity within that facility. A combination of these three elements will lead to a positive patient experience.
The Insights into Healthcare Operational Outcomes
There is a voracious demand for effective organizational operations because of the complexity of healthcare delivery. The complexity varies from care to multiple processes and departments in the different team and team members.
Operational effectiveness will warrant that health systems run smoothly and deliver high-quality, appropriate care. The primary coverage of these healthcare operations is administration, financial, legal, and clinical activities so that health systems care for the patients suitably. It is imperative to manage delivery; progressive thinking organizations relentlessly strive to improve their operational outcomes.
Salient thinking of leaders on healthcare operational improvement has shed light on the general industry challenges:
- Waste reduction
- Hurdles in the process change
- Compromised hospital capacity
- Complex project management
Solutions and insight gathered from these observations guide a holistic approach to address the improvement on a front organizational level, implementing strategies that align improved patient care and experience with saving of costs and the necessity of analytics-driven and measured changes.
Top 5 Operational Improvement Insights
- Healthcare Quality Enhancement
Quality improvement theory by W.Edwards Deming fundamentally links high-quality care with financial performance and reduction of waste. According to him, to have a better outcome is the elimination of consumption of those resources that don’t ideally give an advantage. This will reduce the costs as well.
To revamp the quality and process and final analysis of the financial performance, the industry needs to evaluate its shortcomings and potential.
The following five areas of healthcare should be observed:
- Gigantic variations in clinical practices.
- High rates of improper care.
- Unreasonable rate of preventable care-related patient injury and death.
- Striking incompetence in executing what we know works.
- Massive amount of waste.
The insight from Deming’s strategy is to have a holistic approach and look at the process as one and not as separate departments. The policy is to continue the improvement and think of the manufacturing and business process cumulatively. This comprehensive system is known as term-based care in healthcare. It is a collaborative and goal-oriented approach, especially for patient-centered care. It has a direct effect on the health system’s end line.
- Adoption of Innovative Technologies
Healthcare is witnessing exponential growth. With this, the health systems must also navigate the data and strive for improvement. Historically speaking, healthcare has been slow to adopt innovations and technologies.
This is attributed to budget constraints, protocol burdens, and a lack of experience implementing changes constructively. This can be done by applying correct methods for understanding the impact of technology and executing changes on outcomes.
An eight-step improvement model presents the health systems a blueprint for practical application of improvement in science, analyzing results, and understanding how their changes will lead to the desired impacts:
- Analyze the opportunity for advancement and specify the problem
- Scope the chances and set objectives
- Elaborate on the root causes behind options and set process goals
- Craft interventions and manage the initial implementation
- Implement interventions and analyze the results
- Monitor, adjust, and continually improve and learn
- Diffuse and endure
- Interactive quantitative and qualitative results
- Improving the Capacity of Hospitals
The requirements of patient beds are usually exceeding the number of beds already available. Many health systems face this issue. The downfall of this issue of insufficient destructive capacity encompasses cancellations of surgery, increase in the length of stay, reduction in staff and patient satisfaction, increase in the size of stay in the emergency department, and parrying off of transfer patients.
Construction to increase the space to make more beds available will prove expensive and consume a lot of time. Organizations can implement the following four key concepts to enhance capacity management:
- Analyze the data to understand the faults and target the solution.
- Have the team of analytics work with units throughout the organization and also include leadership.
- Make sure that leaders spend time with the team of operations to grasp hold of the workflow.
- Understand that data analytics tools are dependent on the impact.
- Focus on the capacity to leverage data effectively to assess the interventions.
- Healthcare Project Management Techniques
Healthcare leaders commit to advance the process of improving patient care, reducing costs, and enhancing overall experience and satisfaction. This has made the management of the healthcare projects an integral part of the healthcare system operations. This has become a means to control the costs, manage risks and improve the project’s outcomes.
By applying project management techniques, organizations can plan, arrange, and accomplish the tasks efficiently and maximize resource use. In addition to industry-specific guidelines, the adaptation of project management techniques for various processes can be improved by healthcare professionals.
- Project Planning
There is a recipe for victory when putting together the outcomes of improvement projects and organizing the team. When strategic projects are launched with proper planning, framework, and workforce, long-term sustenance can be ensured. Yet, these projects aren’t able to accomplish substantial improvements or fail to achieve sustainable results. The recipe to fully attain this is seven steps that follow:
- Focus on the comparison of outcomes and accountability.
- Define goals and aim statements in the initial phase and stick to them.
- Allot an owner of the analytics (report or application) upfront.
- Include end users in the planning process.
- Craft the strategy to make doing the right thing simple and easy.
- Encourage the power of one-on-one training.
- Arrest a project champion.
The Value of Healthcare Operations
Healthcare operational improvement projects are customarily additional duties of the team members. They help in the advancement of the organization’s strategic goals. These duties are critical in improving the outcomes of healthcare. Frontline staff, administrative staff, and all other departments are all a part of this.
Still, these individuals have complete responsibilities, including the improvement initiative. Healthcare leaders can look at tried and tested data-driven strategies and experiences to decide the best guideline for improving the work.
Present trends in healthcare operations
With exponential transformation, innovation, and technology that continue to lead to healthcare facilities’ evolution, some current trends enable significant impacts. Following are some of the trends.
Data is the force that leads to healthcare facilities’ decision-making. Data drives all the decisions that are being made in the healthcare business today. Going through an Oracle study of 333 C-level executives, 94% say their company is collecting and managing more business information presently than it did a few years ago.
While all healthcare facilities must be prepared to collect, store and interpret this information, 40% of the healthcare executives surveyed gave themselves a “D” or an “F” rating regarding their readiness to handle the onslaught of data. Also, the results showed that 93% of executives surveyed observed that their organization is losing revenue—on average, 14% annually—because they cannot fully leverage data.
The biggest hurdle is to find the most efficient, cost-effective ways to captivate and report on data for the facility’s everyday operations. This will usually involve a data-driven facility management solution. This solution can help effortless usage of data to track desired compliance-based inspections, testing and reporting on facility maintenance, and rounding to support an environment of care and facility preparedness. It will also assist inefficient management of operations, budgeting, and planning of capital.
Preparing for Emergencies is a must for any organization currently. Being prepared for small-scale accidents and acts of nature isn’t enough for a hospital. All healthcare facilities must provide detailed plans for extreme instances such as a mass casualty incident (MCI).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Suggests that facilities’ emergency management programs include:
- Hazard identification: Identify and list any hazards that carry the potential to affect the facility, both indirectly and directly.
- Hazard mitigation: Take preventive measures to reduce or eliminate the probability of the risks mentioned affecting the facility.
- Preparedness: Develop a detailed plan to meet the requirements of staff, patients, and visitors when the chance happens.
- Response: Frame and discuss the steps that staff members need to take immediately before (for an impending threat), during, and after an incident
- Recovery: Plan activities and programs during and after an event to aid the facility to its normal state.
A range of safety management programs and apps can help ensure hospital facilities, stakeholders, employees, and staff prepare for emergencies of any scale.
Patients are the actual consumers who want to be in control of their healthcare experiences. This enables the healthcare industry to revolve around improving the patient’s experience of care, services, and treatment. It also means to reduce per-capita healthcare expenses.
- Patient engagement
Another case in point is delivering appropriate quality of healthcare and enhancing patient engagement. With the increase in the use of technology through social media, blogs, websites, etc., patients have access to reviews and transparency in the charges, ratings of the quality of care, and more. This drives the mindset of the patients to consumers.
63% of referring physicians are dissatisfied with the current referral process because they lack the information and inadequate referral letter content. When the physicians are unhappy, they will be reluctant to serve the patients perfectly.
Healthcare professionals play a vital role in treating patients as empowered consumers. A thriving Environment of Care supplies a positive treatment response to the patient and a complete sense of well-being and satisfaction. This requires vigilance, alertness in numerous areas. These areas include the usage of mobile technology to administer formal EOC navigation and assure quality.
Communicating effectively with hospital staff and patients can also help to boost EOC ratings. Facilities managers must confirm that compliance work and routine maintenance are completed with punctuality using alerts and notifications to keep all relevant parties involved.
- Cost reduction
Healthcare organizations are constantly striving to trim extraneous costs that range from the consolidation of specialized care facilities to cost reduction consultants. An operations manager should have an excellent estimated figure for their hospital’s facility spending at any given instance. This comprises the materials, labor, and production costs. It also includes individual asset costs and capital expenditures and system-level and energy management (using benchmarked data) costs.
A CMMS is often used to track these costs and forecast future capital planning costs.
Understanding how these trends can benefit and impact a facility’s operations is necessary to stay ahead in healthcare operations.
Big data should be the significant and vital drive to take business decisions, and facilities managers need a solution to help effectively manage and analyze all this information. This way, they can make quicker, more intelligent, and better-informed decisions for their organizations.
There should be preparedness in the organization from an infection outbreak to a variety of lockdown situations. Healthcare facilities must have detailed plans ready to protect patients and staff in the face of a crisis.
Healthcare facilities are expected to implement treating patients as customers. For the healthcare facility operation managers to sustain in the business, they need to stay on top of these trends and regularly analyze the changes, which will add up to significant savings.
Future of Healthcare operations
As per a recent IDC Health Insights report, 20% of healthcare organizations will implement blockchain by 2020. Healthcare organizations must follow financial services and shipping industries by deploying large-scale blockchain projects.
Compared to the traditional database that is centrally placed and maintained by a single party, a blockchain record is shared by a network of users. The industry and government stakeholders have backed the efforts to use blockchain as a permanent and shared ledger of online transactions or exchanges. This is expected to streamline healthcare operations.
Stakeholders in the healthcare industry are wary of deploying new technologies due to security concerns and existing problems with data standardization. These concerns might hold them back to take a step towards blockchain solutions. Resolving the things that hold them back from moving forward would also be helpful for healthcare organizations.
Healthcare organizations wish to move beyond pilot projects and actively use the technology for operations management and patient identity services. Healthcare organizations will start implementing blockchain solutions that will lead to improvement in interoperability.
Blockchain records would be accessible to various organizations — including providers, payers, pharmacies, and clinical researchers — so that they can exchange data in a standardized format. This will help to gather emerging solutions for healthcare information exchange.
Big Data in Healthcare
Big data in healthcare means electronic health data sets. These are so large and extensive that it would be difficult to manage and analyze traditional software and data management tools. With big data, healthcare organizations can give access to multiple hospitals to exchange information. This will lead doctors to provide a complete diagnosis to the patient.
The World Health Organization has collected health-related statistics from 192 countries. The data gathered is arranged by topic, disease, or geographic region for ease of use. Their Core Health Indicators provide a quick and simple comparison between different countries on several health indicators like life expectancy, birth rate, mortality rate, and health care expenditures.
The provision of sharing of the data is important for the future of healthcare operation management. The steps we take after understanding the analysis of these data are crucial for the organization’s function.
Healthcare services companies have gained significant importance through the ability to take in data from numerous different sources like lab and patient data. This helps recognize patterns and provides the data to doctors to give recommendations for how people can improve their health. None of this would be possible without the healthcare organizations operating and having the complete picture.
Healthcare operation management is growing popular because of its effectiveness to resolve the inaccuracy and failures that lead to improper functioning of the hospitals and facilities. Proper implementation of the strategies and steps mentioned above will assist in boosting productivity and successful operation of clinical institutes.