Operating a healthcare facility is complicated. Without careful planning, problems can arise that impact the quality of care offered. Health systems leaders use a variety of tools and tactics to ensure that operations are well-managed and streamlined. Good planning also means having a basic strategy in place for when inevitable problems do arise.
Health system leaders face the future challenge of managing facilities that are expected to care for a growing number of patients. Finding ways to streamline operations and being open to new technologies is important to the future of healthcare.
Here are some of the factors’ health systems leaders must consider and some methods for ensuring operations are managed well.
Resource allocation and optimization
Allocating resources is critical because departments depend on resources being managed so they have what they need to operate at peak efficiency. Even a slight change in the allocation of funds or other resources can have a major impact on the quality of care and overall employee satisfaction.
Health system leaders need to be aware of what is going on in each department so they can allocate resources more efficiently. It means regular meetings and feedback with department heads and sometimes employees. Looking at the facts and figures related to admissions and demand for specific services is also important. In this way, healthcare leaders can decide if a department needs more resources and when it is wise to cut back on another area.
Resource allocation and optimization are also important when it comes to reducing healthcare costs. While medical facilities do want to make a certain level of profit, healthcare costs that are too high result in fewer people using facilities when needed and can impact insurance coverage for specific treatments and procedures. In short, it is better to be able to offer a service at a lower cost than to have people neglect to take advantage of lifesaving care because it is unaffordable.
Market analysis and positioning
Knowing the market for medical services inside and out is necessary for success. Good marketing campaigns can lead to more people seeking services. Not only is this good for the bottom line, but it also benefits the overall health of the public if they are taking good care of their health and attending preventative care visits, as well as monitoring and treating chronic conditions.
Some health concerns and conditions are more common than others, so it is good to use those when creating any marketing campaign. Heart issues, diabetes, and diet are a few of the most prominent issues out there. Marketing needs to offer a connection with the person who shows that your facility really cares.
Nursing homes and elder care are in increasing demand, but those forced to use such facilities want to know they are getting the highest level of care possible while being comfortable and safe. Tuning into the emotional side of healthcare can help with planning marketing ideas.
As far as positioning goes, healthcare leaders need to have a good understanding of where they stand in the regional healthcare market and ask if the position is satisfactory or if they want to have a larger market share in the years to come. Planning growth that is realistic and steady often yields better results than expanding too rapidly.
Service expansion and diversification
Demand for healthcare is on the rise. It is important that medical facilities consider if they can grow and what growth should look like. It requires careful analysis of what areas of healthcare are most in demand and which are most likely to be in the coming decades.
Using data analysts and data mining can be helpful for picking out trends in demographics, healthcare concerns, and the most common diseases and medical conditions throughout a larger area than what your facility may service.
National trends show a major lack of primary and preventative care services across all demographics. With a large population of aging adults and more people than ever before having access to health insurance, demand has far outsourced the availability of doctors and other medical professionals taking on new patients or managing the care of patients with chronic conditions.
Adding more medical professionals who can provide primary and preventative care services is critical for the well-being of all. Of course, this is a fantastic opportunity for healthcare facilities and networks that want to expand.
Smaller clinics bring care to disadvantaged people and areas with a lack of primary care services
Some larger medical networks are choosing to open smaller urgent care clinics in neighborhoods with a distinct lack of medical care. It helps those who are disadvantaged or cautious about approaching regular doctors for care to get help when needed.
Urgent care clinics help reduce the cost of health care because it is far less expensive for someone to be seen at a clinic than to get services from a hospital emergency room. Patients have reduced wait times when they have a clinic they can go to rather than everyone going to the emergency room when they have a health issue that needs to be addressed but is not really an immediate life-threatening concern.
Brand development and reputation management
Like any business or service, brand development and reputation are important in healthcare. Maintaining a high level of standards and instilling measures for quality control at medical facilities is crucial. While even the best medical facility can get bad reviews and complaints at times, it is important to recognize when there is a trend and that it is not just a few people lashing out. There will always be those who lash out due to dealing with a loved one or themselves being ill or not recovering the way they would have hoped.
Over time, even word of mouth can result in a hospital or medical facility not being fully utilized out of fear of treatment, billing, costs, and more. Rumors can snowball on social media as well. There are cases where hospitals are shunned, and people drive further to get care at another facility rather than trust their local medical providers.
Healthcare leaders and administrators must take reputation management seriously even during a time when healthcare demand is high and people are forced to go wherever they can in some cases. A shoddy reputation can lead to a lack of resources, which certainly doesn’t help a facility improve its reputation for providing a high level of care.
Branding is important in a healthcare facility because when someone is able to easily recognize your logo and form a connection, it is more likely they will trust you when it comes to seeking care for them or their loved ones.
Healthcare leaders need to be honest with themselves about how their facility or network is perceived by the public and how recognizable their brand really is. Being in denial or pushing bad marketing under the rug will ultimately cause harm to the facility’s profit margin.
The sooner any negative publicity is addressed, the less damaging it will be overall.
Medical workers must have good job satisfaction, or the brand and reputation of the facility will suffer
When workers are not happy, word gets around, and it can lead to a lot of bad media attention. Protests and labor strikes are definitely best avoided. Newspaper coverage of workers not being happy with the working conditions and how that negatively impacts the level of care they can offer their patients is something that will definitely get coverage on local news networks and papers.
When medical networks are bought by another medical group or investor, the changes that happen can sometimes lead to a change in the working environment or conditions. It is important during these transitory periods that there is care taken to ensure that changes do not cause damage to the brand.
Engaging with employees and department heads regularly during any transitory period is very important. It can avoid problems going too far and getting harder to fix.
Taking part in the community is important for a medical provider. There are many ways to go about this, and all of them should be used at some point. Community engagement is not only the right thing to do; it also improves the reputation of your medical facility and increases brand awareness.
Community engagement also helps healthcare leaders hone in on what their community is most concerned about when it comes to healthcare access and availability.
Outreach programs like offering classes to improve physical fitness and good eating habits and offering help getting access to medical insurance and care are all great ideas.
Sponsoring and taking part in events in a community is another way to give back and raise awareness of your brand and the services offered. When people are allowed to familiarize themselves with your brand in a comfortable atmosphere, you can establish a higher degree of trust.
Regular feedback from patients, their families, and employees at any healthcare facility should be highly valued. It is important to have a system in place that allows feedback to be offered without fear of repercussions.
Some healthcare facilities send out surveys via text message after a visit to see how a patient feels about their experience and give them a chance to leave any additional comments or suggestions. Having an easy-to-use contact form on the facility’s website is highly recommended.
Patient portals are used by many for direct communication between medical professionals and patients and allow for non-emergency-related communications if there is a specific problem or issue that needs to be addressed by an individual at a facility.
Regular performance reviews for employees are a good idea because they give employees constructive criticism and advice. Reviews are a chance to help people improve in areas where they are needed as well. Giving people a chance to acknowledge a problem and fix it is important for morale. No one is perfect, and over time, most employees will improve if offered the right tools to do their job and decent mentoring.
Listening to feedback improves morale at a healthcare facility. It is important when it comes to recruiting quality employees and keeping them. With such a shortage of medical workers, it is critical to strive to be a place where people want to work if you want to have a full staff on hand.
Nursing leaders are in short supply and in high demand
If you are an RN looking to take the next step in your career, you should consider taking nursing leadership courses online. The University of Indianapolis offers an excellent master’s degree in Nursing- Nursing Health Systems Leadership that can prepare you for a managerial or administrative role in just seven semesters, while you continue to gain experience at your current job.
With so many senior-level nurses reaching retirement age, now is a great time to gain the skills you need to be a nursing leader. You will learn how health information technology impacts the cost and availability of care, the management principles of various types of facilities and systems, team facilitation methods, and more.
Healthcare systems need strong leadership and management so they can offer the highest level of care to their patients and families. Strong nursing leaders are needed to help make the future of medicine work as efficiently as possible so an increasing number of patients can receive the care they need to live rich and full lives.
While managing any size healthcare facility or system is more complicated than many realize, with good strategies and skilled management, a system can operate smoothly with fewer challenges and obstacles over the years.