The American Healthcare system is suffering from rising costs and problems related to quality, safety, and access to proper healthcare facilities. Therefore, policymakers are seeking ways to increase the efficiency of healthcare delivery. Simultaneously, they are maximizing the value of healthcare and reducing costs. As patients shift towards a consumerist approach in life, efficient healthcare is the need of the hour. However, it is vital to maintain quality and reduce unnecessary costs and waste. The fundamental reason for inefficiency is that the healthcare sector is complex. The fragmented nature of the healthcare system is to blame for most issues. Furthermore, rising energy costs and shrinking numbers of skilled personnel can make it nearly impossible to run a hospital efficiently. So, we need a healthcare system that prevents every kind of waste.
Fortunately, it is not a lost cause. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can achieve efficiency and quality by reevaluating how they function and challenging traditions. Following are some ways healthcare administration can make routine processes and care delivery services more efficient.
- Improve care coordination: Our healthcare system works against the patients. It is too complicated, and often service providers do not collaborate on treatment plans properly. Therefore, patients with chronic illnesses find it challenging to manage underlying issues. The healthcare system needs to improve coordination and collaboration between providers. Fortunately, some universities are offering programs to improve care coordination. The best thing is that most of these programs are available online. For example, by enrolling in a general studies bachelor degree online, individuals can work as care coordinators across multiple departments within the system. They can direct immediate care to those who need it most. Not only will this improve health outcomes, but it will also increase patient safety.
- Introduce technology: not every hospital is up-to-date with the latest in health tech. Therefore, primary care providers have to waste their time on non-essential activities. They dedicate a portion of their time to paperwork. By using database software, healthcare providers can automate most processes and reduce time. Similarly, barcodes for inventory management can also help in the maintenance and management of equipment and medication. Many healthcare providers are also using big data to gather patient data. This data helps them predict staffing needs and patient volume. This strategy can resolve issues with overstaffing and increase efficiency.
- Keep updating patient records: Mismanaged records can cost hospitals thousands of dollars. For example, equipment that is no longer in use may still be on the books for some hospitals. Resultantly, hospitals may end up paying insurance premiums several years after disposing of the equipment. Not only does this cost a lot of money, but it also makes the records inaccurate. So, any management decision based on these documents increases inefficiency. The inflated costs can also affect debt financing and audits. Therefore, hospitals must update their records.
- Retain staff: Staff turnover is detrimental for small and medium-sized healthcare businesses. The loss of expertise is a drain on resources. Furthermore, hiring new employees is expensive. Employers have to spend time and money to train them. Sadly, there is not an easy solution to high turnover rates. Low employee satisfaction, a toxic work environment, and higher wages at other hospitals are all contributory factors. A competent HR department can deal with these issues and shift the burden.
- Develop a well-managed team: The long waiting times can cause significant issues within direct care. Therefore, an efficient healthcare system requires a well-managed team of professionals. OR inefficiency is the most damaging practice. They can cause fatal delays in surgical care. For example, an anesthesiologist still concluding their previous surgery will delay the surgical team. So, the OR team and surgical team must partner and streamline processes. An OR nurse can circulate to reduce redundant activities. On a macro level, hospitals can partner with larger health systems and specialists to improve direct care.
- Focusing on health financing: Financing is a fundamental issue within healthcare. It is a significant challenge for lower-income nations. More than 930 million people are at risk of falling into poverty due to healthcare costs. Therefore, health financing can increase service coverage and make the sector more efficient. Often patients do not have sufficient knowledge about their insurance provider. But, providers do not have the technical information to keep up with an evolving economic environment. Luckily, they do not have to do it alone. Hospitals can outsource their revenue cycle functions to protect their bottom line and address challenges. They can improve their revenue collection models and vital business functions.
- Use telehealth: Telemedicine became an alternative to traditional care in the 1960s, but the strategy never took off. The pandemic changed this situation as people realized the value of telemedicine. Through telehealth, hospitals can increase staff efficiency. They can also reduce costs and patient visits. Remote patients can access high-quality care with the touch of a button. Wearable devices such as smartwatches can also help medical professionals monitor the health of chronic patients. Doctors can monitor heart rates, blood glucose, and sleep patterns. This data improves diagnosis and treatment. Since patients do not have to commute to the hospitals, telemedicine can eliminate medical taxi costs.
The pandemic highlighted several gaps in the healthcare systems worldwide, from high costs to issues with inventory. However, instead of ignoring these issues, healthcare systems can take it as a teaching moment. Technology can improve management processes and improve efficiency. However, we cannot afford to focus solely on efficiency. Not only does a healthcare system need to be efficient, but it must also provide quality care. This delicate balancing act may be challenging for most healthcare providers.