Transforming healthcare starts at the operational hub of the organization. For community healthcare facilities, focusing on administration, finance and revenue cycle, and clinical activities not only improves the bottom line but also patient care. For FQHCs, there are myriad areas to improve, from waste reduction, workflow streamlining, capacity, and ultimately, healthcare outcomes. This blog will tackle some improvements that will help you elevate health center operations for greater efficiencies and improved patient care.
Waste is a conundrum in healthcare because it’s a vast and highly impactful problem. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) says, “Waste in the US health care system is real, of monumental and quantifiable magnitude, and stands in the way of sustainability of health care.”
From clinical and administrative inefficiencies to missed opportunities to prevent ill health in patients, waste in healthcare is a huge driver of increasing costs.
For community healthcare centers, every dollar counts. That makes streamlining processes that create waste even more critical for these underfunded institutions. Harvard Business School rightly points out that up to 35% of healthcare spending is wasted on workflow inefficiencies, inappropriate treatments, and excessive pricing. But it can be argued that community healthcare centers run lean and mean to begin with, so where can waste be tackled? Consider:
- Excess inventory can tie up valuable space but also cash flow. FQHCs can evaluate how well they manage medication expiration dates by evaluating what gets discarded.
- Patient flow is critical to any healthcare facility but the costs are high. What kind of inefficiencies seep into your scheduling and walk-in workflows? Can additional staffing help you close gaps and improve efficiencies in care delivery?
- Workflows are often snarled in healthcare. The complexity of patient care in our industry often requires reactionary efforts which over time become “how we get things done.” If workflows aren’t evaluated regularly for unnecessary motion—for example, tracking down equipment or manual processes can lead to waste.
- Errors in the back office create all kinds of reimbursement issues. Given that it takes more effort to repair these errors, community healthcare organizations can elevate health center operations by conducting regular audits of these processes.
IHI calls for a three-point plan for reducing waste in healthcare organizations—and they include community healthcare providers in their recommendations. Their suggestions include:
- Endorsing local health system strategies to reduce waste.
- Forming collaborative partnerships across communities to address waste.
- Advocate for healthcare reform and redesign at the system level.
It can be argued that community healthcare organizations should serve as a model for their more financially bloated health system competitors. These clinics have been operating as lean and mean organizations for decades and as funding fluctuates, we work smarter—or at least try to. UHC Solutions can help by freeing up your administrative teams to focus more on these process improvements that reduce waste. We offer our FQHC clients turnkey resources for sourcing, interviewing, and hiring the healthcare talent you need.
Challenging times call for new partnerships. If you haven’t started the conversation with UHC Solutions, we’re standing by to help elevate your health center operations with fresh leadership, clinical, and operational talent.