The modern hospital – factors for success
Changes in the healthcare market over the past ten years have had a dramatic effect on the way hospitals and clinics are being operated. The rising cost of healthcare has affected medical aid reimbursement, causing the individual and corporate consumer to be a discerning selector of medical care. This has given birth to extended and alternative forms of healthcare delivery, with the threat of decreased revenue and increased competition for hospitals. Hospitals have addressed the change in a number of ways, including: cost containment, the adoption of consumer marketing techniques, and human resource management.
Management of a hospital is neither simple nor linear. For efficient functioning of a hospital, managers need to coordinate the activities and functions of different departments with optimum utilization of staff – always with an eye on improving efficiency.
Although a workman performing poorly should not blame his tools, it is imperative that the appropriate facilities are matched to the needs and affordability of the community it serves. The hospital organization structure needs to be carefully examined, ensuring that appropriate skills are employed, and that all communications channels are clear, open and effective.
A hospital is a business. Although it deals with a person’s health, which is priceless, the importance of prudent financial management has now become a minimum requirement for the modern hospital. If change is difficult, then hospitals need to understand that, if they resist the needs of a modern facility, they will not thrive. On the contrary, their future will be marred by shortages, culminating in an end result that means poor quality healthcare delivered at high cost. Human resource management also dictates a change in philosophy – from the personal to a professional approach to getting the best from people.
With equipment and consumables forming a key component of quality healthcare delivery, control of inventory needs to encompass materials management processes and systems, that don’t swap one problem for another: intense control of inventory which can be just as onerous as keeping it under control.
Hospital stores organization and pharmacy/dispensary management need to be incorporated into the above, taking into consideration the specific objectives and functions of the stores and the pharmacy. Incorporated with this, is the marketing and merchandising required for departments that have a consumer interface.
The value of a practical and integrated information system is invaluable as a foundation for the running of an effective, modern and profitable facility that delivers quality care to patients and exceptional value to its communities. A core aspect of service delivery is the availability of medical records. This is vital information in the delivery of healthcare – for patients, doctors, the hospital and those for which research data proves valuable.
There are only two factors that affect profit – revenue and costs. Physical medical waste has become an increasingly complex problem – improved methods of waste reduction and disposal can have a dramatic effect on costs, with skilled management.
Patient relations is a cornerstone in building perceptual brand equity in the markets that the hospital serves. The result is an environment that people trust, have a belief in, and an understanding of the enhanced value they will receive.