Swensen: What aspects of staff performance should be examined?
Watson: Aside from the happiness of the staff, staff efficiency and effectiveness must also be taken into consideration. Hospitals should ask themselves: “Do we employ too many physicians and ancillary staff? Too little?” Many hospitals, especially smaller hospitals, do not have the IT platform and the infrastructure to support technology that can effectively maintain staff and inform, in real time, whether their staff is operating in the most effective and most efficient way. Sixty-five to 75 percent of a hospital’s expense is in staffing. If a portion of the staff is working overtime and working below peak efficiency, there’s room for improvement.
Swensen: How can a hospital balance the challenge of providing outstanding patient care with the need to adhere to a tight budget?
Watson: For a struggling hospital, operating on a tight budget can make it difficult to deliver optimal patient care. I suggest hospitals examine their core competencies. Once those competencies are determined, the hospital may find that it’s in their best interest to outsource. A small hospital may need a neurosurgeon, but they may not have the volume of complex surgeries to justify hiring one full-time and absorb the responsibility of keeping their skills at peak efficiency. Contracting or partnering with another entity can be a solution. The hospital would only have to pay for a portion of that specialist’s salary, paying them only for the work they need done, when they need it, eliminating the need to support the high salary associated with keeping that specialist on staff full-time.
Taking the time to address staffing issues can greatly increase the chances of a hospital remaining viable. Relationships between clinicians, care providers and partners can make or break a hospital’s success. Those relationship need to be working at peak performance in order for patients to receive the best care possible, and providing outstanding care is every hospital’s primary goal.
Kerry Watson is a seasoned operations management executive with more than 20 years of experience in the leadership, direction and management of major hospital and healthcare organizations generating up to $900 million in revenue and employing up to 3,000 professionals. He applies an extensive expertise in healthcare systems and business processes to ensure superior healthcare services, strong organizational learning and a positive, forward-thinking organizational culture - while driving operational performance to record levels of success.