ways to improve productivity in a hospital


Recently, we were interacting with a staff from Mumbai’s Hinduja hospital and he was explaining us about the load on the hospitals. When I heard him using the word load again, I started wondering — this is one sector where a customer (patient) doesn’t often negotiate. Usually, hospital and pharmacy gets what they ask from the patients. Also, hospitals are becoming more and more a private property, still the insider talks about “load” on the hospital. Isn’t that an opportunity for them to contribute more and earn even more?

Perhaps, it is not so straight forward. Health care has always been short on skilled resources. Even if you have skilled resources they seem to rely more on vocational and technical knowledge about hospitals and treatment and they don’t try to see the complete or bigger picture. Like in any hospital every staff should have knowledge about effective waste management, they should also have minimum understanding of how finance and overall operation works. This will allow them to contribute strongly in minimizing the over all cost of treatment.

So, one thing we clearly understand that hospital needs to improve its effectiveness and hence productivity to be able to serve its customer at lower cost. The effectiveness again depends on how effectively the hospital is able to use its man power, money, material and equipments.

Lets take an example of equipments. It is obvious and more apparent that most hospital or health facilities have expensive equipment.
Some of them remains out of the order or the inventory list because of the insufficiency of the engineering department, improper maintenance, defective service contracts and so on. Many times even if the equipment is available for usage, the lack of proper knowledge of equipment and costs involved in keeping the equipment causes ineffective usage.
So, Hospitals must adapt the ways and methods to streamline and make more efficient their procurement, consumption and utilization control, inventory and records control and storage of equipments. The intended users must receive thorough training to utilize the equipment most effectively.

You know what, equipment is not even the biggest factor in effective operations. In fact, the quality of services in hospital totally depends on the quality of their human resources and man power. Specially, quality of a hospital is usually derived from the quality of nursing available in the hospital. Hence, it is important to conduct training periodically so that the employees and staff are aware of the new changes in technology and techniques. They should understand the science behind their work, they should have spirit to serve humanity and skill to perform their tasks effectively.

While understanding of science, having right spirit and skills are the base for quality of the service provided by Hospital, the Information Technology (IT) has started playing a significant role in enabling people to be more effective. Below are some of the immediate benefit that you get from usage of IT in health care:

  1. you will need less staff to operate and manage.
  2. decreases the paper work and enhances the accuracy.
  3. it is easy to track, compile and get back the old data
  4. it can store large amount of data and information, which means you don’t lose the historical information of your patients
  5. you can compare and contrast the various process improvement strategies that you may have tried to implement
  6. everyone using same data will ensure that people receives consistent information and hence your patients have more trust in your system

Well, by looking at the advantage of IT, no doubt you may like to get started with it immediately. However, just buying IT is not sufficient. You must develop a culture where people understand the benefit and they don’t look at it as one more tool which is going to waste their time. If they understand the bigger picture, which is providing effective health care to the patients, then you have half the battle won. Remaining resistance can be overcome through training and incentives.

So, how should you go ahead with computerization? It is no brainier. Identify the department which is possibly working independently at this moment. It is recommended that a single and significant department should be computerized first, because it easy to measure the benefits or achievement of the computerization. Starting with Outpatient Department (OPD) is a really good idea. Usually, any software providing solution for OPD should give you enough idea about how it is going to work for Inpatient and other departments like Pharmacy, Material Management, Laboratory, and even HR.

Did I mention about training? Oh yes, training and motivation must start immediately to make use of the new technology. Usually, hospitals have IT department, which owns the responsibility of conducting training related to software upgrades.

In nutshell, while health care is a sector, where we have just started accepting as one of the business, it is imperative to understand that its purpose is to provide invaluable service to the human being. Also, the effort must be put to enable the common people to avail the needed health care. At the same time if you have a corporate customer, who is looking for more services and more luxury then there is no reason why they should not pay more for the same.

Hope this post helps you in taking more effective decision.

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