Cutting costs is the goal of nearly every company to stay profitable, including healthcare organizations. But reducing expenses in healthcare is harder as it can impact care. (Consumers – patients and the community – don’t want healthcare organizations to cut the quality!)
About 30 cents of every dollar is wasted in healthcare, and it’s something everyone wants to address. Although unnecessary procedures and inefficient care happen and contribute to this waste, these are harder to change without affecting care quality, impacting lives.
Here are a few ideas to target and some ways to get employees involved so that you’re cutting costs efficiently while increasing engagement without negatively impacting care.
1. Streamline and cut waste outside of patient care
Billing, IT, HR, marketing – every department that isn’t delivering care in your organization can reduce waste. You’re probably saying to yourself: many departments contribute to patient care. It’s true. Limit streamlining, process improvements and waste reduction to items outside of care.
Get your employees and staff involved. No doubt the people at your organization know where there’s waste and already have ideas to reduce it. They’re also the people you need to roll out these changes. Having their buy-in through working together to reduce waste ensures they’re onboard.
- Ask staff to identify waste and help reduce it, including joining teams. Give them a suggestion box on your intranet.
- Reward people for both ideas and implementation.
- Give employees with ideas recognition, including peer-to-peer kudos.
- Reward individuals, teams and departments that reduce waste by recognizing them. Cover them in your organizational news and add their faces to common gathering places. Talk about them in meetings, including all-company meetings.
- Ask trained Lean employees to help lead this effort, including training others in your organization. Reward them, too!
- Measure the changes made through implementation. Use that information when you communicate to employees – on your intranet, in your news, and through meetings.
- Make these suggestions part of your company culture by introducing ideation and Lean values. Add it to people’s performance reviews.
- Consider announcing to patients and the community by using PR to pitch to local newspapers and television. These days, everyone knows how expensive healthcare costs are and how they tie directly to how much patients pay for healthcare. Your employees can be heroes to the community if it potentially cuts their costs, too.
2. Increase preventive care
One of the most important parts of health, which increases quality, is preventive care. Some illnesses and issues (such as obesity and diabetes) are preventable through diet, exercise and yearly checkups.
So, what is your organization doing to help the community in being healthier? Again, your employees can help and contribute to ideas.
Think about your staff first
Are you protecting staff health? Being in the healthcare field is stressful, no matter which department you’re in – physicians, nurses, IT employees and more. Everyone knows patients’ lives are on the line with decisions they make. Frontline employees face more wellness risks in the course of their jobs. Your staff’s physical and mental wellness is important.
- Give ample paid time off and ensure people vacation and sick time when needed.
- Provide discounted or free gym memberships, employee assistance programs and mental health services.
- Use programs, like yoga, at various facilities and give people time to do them.
- Ensure healthy snacks are available, including in vending machines.
- Give people time to have their checkups.
- Provide discounted care services.
- Pay people adequately. Although this is last on the list, financial wellness affects mental and physical wellness. Ask HR to ensure people are paid market rate or better.
Unleash your marketing department
Your marketing department — including public relations, community outreach and more — are dying to communicate about how the organization is benefitting the community.
- Showcase programs. For example, if an exercise program is available to the public that would help them, let your team communicate about it using social and press releases.
- Give blog tips. Thought leadership and best practices content help people. It’s a direct way to engage with people who aren’t patients yet while benefitting from brand recognition, boosted traffic and more. For example, if there’s a tip on how much exercise adults over 40 should receive, create a blog post and use social media to alert people.
- Ask your marketing team to communicate about patients who used preventive services. It’s more powerful when it’s about lives saved or serious illness averted. Those people can be role models and spur actions from others.
Sponsor things that benefit staff and community health
- Offer discounted services for those who need them.
- Provide vaccinations clinics – for flu and other diseases – after hours and on weekends.
- Sponsor races and other events where people exercise that prevent diseases.
- Sponsor farm to table events as well as healthy eating in schools.
- Use your foundation, if one is connected to your organization, to help education and health causes in your community.
- Encourage staff to speak out and volunteer for community health projects.
Although handwashing is critical to ensuring patient health, it wasn’t that long ago that checklists for handwashing were introduced. Hand sanitizer at hospital doors, checklists for surgical procedures, writing information on body parts that need (and don’t need) surgery and more have standardized medicine. These are small ideas – generally in terms of money needed to fund these efforts or resources to implement, but have a big impact. These standards saved lives.
There are probably other opportunities that need employee encouragement to come to life.
What simple things do increase patient health? How can those things become ritual or so easy that they won’t be overlooked? Ask your front-line care workers for help and reward them for ideas as well as the introduction of these procedures.
Your healthcare facility could be the one that introduces the next incremental idea that saves money and lives.