Performance Optimization in Healthcare; 5 Opportunities Hospitals Should Explore

17 March 2021

Performance Optimization (PO) is the next logical step for healthcare organizations seeking to make the next step. We look at five avenues for optimization hospitals should consider. 

healthcare optimization

According to recent studies, the healthcare industry has a productivity level of about 43%. This statistic is neither acceptable nor sustainable. Considering the rising budgets and increasing demand for healthcare, the industry stakeholders must do better.

Performance Optimization (PO) offers a way out of the situation. A collaborative approach that targets improved care, accountability, transparency, and resource management, PO is customized to individual institutions’ needs to boost bottom-line metrics.

Hospitals that have implemented the strategy enjoy an array of positive outcomes. From better throughput speed to a reduction in the number of operational beds, the benefits are endless. 

To put it differently, the hospitals reported an over 20% increase in bed utilization and a 5%-8% increase in the operating budget.

5 Opportunities Hospitals Must Explore

The following are five ways healthcare facilities can leverage PO to improve operations.

  • Use PO to ensure optimal distribution of physician shifts. 

The physician’s time is precious. Although we’ve seen a steady rise in physicians globally, the senior members are a lot more valuable. Therefore, to enhance performance, hospitals must begin by optimizing the schedules of their seasoned doctors.

PO allows hospitals to achieve optimal distribution of physician shifts for better outcomes. A basic web-based schedule optimization solution uses complex algorithms that consider factors such as availability, on-call coverage, personal preferences, and sub-specialties for the best possible task distribution.

The goal is to ensure every doctor is available when needed without putting too much strain on them. A well-rested doctor is much more productive. PO solutions also try to match doctors with the “perfect” jobs, thus boosting productivity while reducing errors.

  •  Automate patient appointment management 

 According to Canada Health Infoway studies, it takes around 2.7 minutes to schedule a hospital appointment over the phone. For a health facility that processes 100,000 appointments yearly, that’s around 270,000 minutes (about 4,500) spent on appointment scheduling, an equivalent of just over 12 hours daily. That’s before accounting for the 1.5 minutes it takes to send appointment reminders.

There’s no doubt that the industry could save a lot of time and money by automating a few elements of the appointment management process. According to the AUCTUS Group, you stand to save $5,500 per year in the customer department by implementing an online, automated scheduling software.

Performance optimization of patient appointment management also decreases office distractions and creates loyal and engaged patients. Studies by students at the University of California, Irvine, show that it takes 23 hours and 15 seconds to return to the original task after a disruption. Above all, automation reduces the cost of scheduling patients and allows your staff to accomplish more tasks.  

  • Optimize your communication channels 

A while ago, in 2013, a US commission identified hospital communication channels as the source of over 70% of hospital critical events. Critical events are unexpected incidents that can overwhelm the usually effective individuals and cause significant psychological distress.

A recent publication in the Journal of Hospital Medicine shows that doctors spend 25% of their working hours using communication tools. It’s no wonder our hospitals are only at 43% productivity. Our healthcare providers are spending too much time on complicated and often needless communication channels.  

A simple way to fix this problem is to optimize the communication channel in the healthcare system. The first step would be to reduce the number of communication devices. 

More devices create more complexities, increasing the risk of error. Constantly switching between devices results in more time wasted. A single communication solution that brings all the information needed in one device can solve this problem.

performance optimization

  • Improve cost measurement and related tools

Senior finance executives at most leading hospitals are aware cost measurement is the most important performance management activity. In a September 2017 survey, 96% of the executives said cost is a “significant” or “very significant” need for their organization.

Unfortunately, many hospitals are struggling to find the data and tools to track and measure costs. In the study above, leveraging data and analytics to identify cost-cutting opportunities was the most commonly cited impediment. 70% of the respondents either had too simplistic tools or didn’t have any tools altogether.

Performance optimization solutions allow healthcare organizations to benchmark their cost-reduction performances against peer groups using data from public and commercial sources. 

Using benchmark reports and scorecards, hospitals can observe patterns of performances that impact utilization, cost, quality, and outcomes for diagnosis, treatment types, physicians, and apartments to uncover areas for improvement.

  • Leverage Big Data to forecast demand 

How to allocate limited resources to satisfactorily and efficiently respond to patients is a perennial challenge in the healthcare system. However, what makes it an even bigger problem is demand unpredictability. 

It’s near impossible planning for the day ahead when you don’t know how many patients you will have tomorrow. Many times you’ll allocate too little or too many resources.

Both situations can be costly. In the perceived busy season when you keep more staff because you expect more patients, it can cause massive losses if only a few patients show up. The opposite is true for the perceived low season. Any extra patient over the predicted number can put a heavy strain on the staff.

Performance optimization solutions leverage big data for better forecasting, thus better planning and resource allocation. Based on the number of appointments and admissions that the facility has processed in the past, the solutions can predict traffic for the future, allowing hospitals to have enough resources, including staff, on standby.  

Get Started Now

There’s plenty you can achieve with performance optimization, including enhancing healthcare security and improving strategic decision making. The key is to start early. 

Remember that you compete with thousands of other hospitals and private practices. Every day you wait is a chance for the competitor to get ahead of you. Wondering where to start? NIX Solutions can help.