Running a hospital: Do you manage or do you cope?
In the same way that people who practice preventative health live a more manageable, stress-free and healthier life, so too do managers who plan and implement strategically. The family you find yourself living with at home influences the complexity of your life, as does the system we find ourselves in at work.
Every industry is dynamic – especially during 2008/9 where our patients are grappling with various degrees of a recession, which results in them making decisions about healthcare that are often not their first choice. Even though the market is such a rapidly-changing one, those who fail to plan, as the saying goes, plan to fail. The overall goals of your facility need to be set, no matter how uncertain the surroundings.
The primary areas affecting the goal of any healthcare facility incorporate three areas: treatment quality, patient (and provider) satisfaction and achievable financial results.
The process should begin as a ‘bottom up’ one, where the plan is put together – or rather takes shape – as you analyse data and engage staff and management. However, once a plan is accepted and approved by your Board, it should be seen as ‘top down’, having the necessary gravitas and commitment to ensure that it is implemented to the best of everyone’s ability.
As we enter more challenging times, we can expect greater emphasis on productivity as well as the management of current resources and assets. This requires that everyone understands the direction the hospital is going in, and that individual effort is understood to be a component of overall success.
Together with reaching the required levels of satisfaction and quality, there needs to be a sense of urgency with a culture of innovation. The application of all these approaches needs an intensive level of communication, monitoring and support – and not to formalize these functions is tantamount to guaranteeing an environment of coping as opposed to effective management.
We are entering an era of an even more empowered consumer. Not only do they now have less financial resources, but they know more and want to have some control over their health. People want to make their own decisions. Interestingly enough, numerous studies have shown that hospital patients who are disruptive, picky, nosy and generally non-compliant are the ones who do best after surgery and also recover more quickly from an illness. The patients who are compliant and place their fate in the hands of their medical professionals do not do as well. So, not only does the market demand a better healthcare experience, but the level of service is inextricably linked to the actual patient’s recovery.
If you are coping as opposed to managing you will not see this impending failure. In the same way that consumers vote with their feet – so do patients. The dramatic increase in medical tourism is a loud clarion call that illustrates the power inherent in the patient. And the healthcare funders will also vote with their feet, as they tend to gravitate towards facilities that are tightly managed with quality treatment and high service standards. The rest will be left to cope.