Productivity Improvement – Learn What Steps to Take and Which to Avoid to Improve Productivity

The challenge is before you: improve productivity in your hospital. Before you can do this, it is necessary to know how your results compare to your peers. Benchmarks are a useful tool for establishing this information. So, you are interested in benchmarks, or maybe you already have benchmarks, but you are unsure of how to incorporate the results into your management strategy. This is a dilemma faced by many hospital executives, usually resulting in the failure to take any significant action. To alleviate this problem, we have created a distillation of what we have found to be the most important “do’s” and “don’ts” when pursuing productivity improvement.

DON’T decide to reduce a specific number of department FTEs based solely on external comparisons and the need for expense reduction without regard tot he impact on throughput. DO use comparative data as a screening tool to identify the greatest improvement opportunities. DON’T impose arbitrary productivity goals without regard to potential barriers within and outside the departments. DO identify organizational effectiveness barriers at the department level and quantify their impact. DON’T make cost reduction an activity that involves only the managers. DO involve employees constructively in the improvement process. DON’T start uncoordinated projects that focus on individual departments and miss the synergistic effect of factors that cross department lines. DO implement tailored improvements that take the total organizational impact into account, not just the effect on a single department. DON’T implement arbitrary, crisis-driven cuts that damage quality, impair physician confidence, destroy employee loyalty, and tarnish community image. DO make a improvement of organizational effectiveness an ongoing objective to be routinely pursued throughout the hospital. DON’T waste time fixing symptoms. DO fix root causes. DON’T develop a fear-based hospital culture. DO develop a trust-based hospital culture.

Above all, DON’T wait until a fiscal crisis looms before taking constructive steps to reduce costs through improved organizational effectiveness. The longer you wait, the fewer your options!