HELP WHERE HOSPITALS NEED IT ®
HELP WHERE HOSPITALS NEED IT ®
Community Hospital Blog
by Jim Coleman, CHC SVP of Southeast Hospital Operations
Rural and community hospital leaders – at the forefront in meeting community healthcare needs – frequently encounter challenges that may significantly impact operations and an organization’s long-term financial viability. From variations in patient mix to marketplace mergers and legislative reform, the environment continues to change.
To better position your facility for success, here are some best practice tips to strengthen access to care and delivery of services. Market customization, operational performance, and collaboration opportunities should be at the top of the list.
Customize your hospital’s action plan to your market
Use market demographics and payer mix data to think “outside the box” – every community is different. What works for one hospital may not be right for another. Adopt a strategic approach to evaluating new services and programs. Here are a few specific ideas that have worked for several CHC Consulting clients:
Plan for the future
Annual strategic planning is vital to long-term success. The process should include an environmental assessment reviewing marketplace health needs along with medical staff planning. Proactive retention, succession planning and recruitment efforts are especially important in smaller markets where it can take longer to fill vacant positions.
Improve operational performance
Labor is the largest portion of a hospital’s budget. This means it’s critical to closely monitor and manage labor. Analyze staffing and match your workforce to the services needed; research scheduling options and cross-training opportunities to capitalize on efficiency. Could nurse practitioners, physician extenders or others benefit the hospital or community? In addition to labor, supply costs are one of the fastest-growing hospital cost centers. Carefully review your facility’s potential for savings on supplies and pharmaceuticals through a group purchasing organization (GPO) that specializes in community hospitals. Also, look closely at your revenue cycle for opportunities to improve revenue capture and collections.
Team up with area providers and agencies to meet community needs
Collaborative efforts including clinical affiliations with other hospitals or systems can improve population health management and care delivery. For instance, an affiliation agreement could bring a needed physician specialist to your community, a reasonable alternative to recruiting and supporting a medical practitioner on a full-time basis.
Government support can also improve access to community-based health care to broaden the services you provide. State and federal grant dollars support clinical and preventive services such as mammograms; funding is available for telemedicine services and health information technology as well.
By Mike Williams, President and CEO, CHC
As we usher in 2017 with our country’s new administration, it’s not surprising that hospitals, healthcare providers, insurers, and consumers alike are asking “what’s next?” related to healthcare. There’s no question that some changes will occur, although they won’t happen overnight. Many details are forthcoming in the weeks and months ahead.
Regardless of the road in front of us, we must continue to position community and rural hospitals in optimal fashion. CHC will be looking at innovative ways to help community hospitals during these times of change, by lending our expertise, and upholding our mission to guide, support and enhance the mission of community hospitals and healthcare providers.
Strong community hospitals are critical to the vitality of entire populations, especially in rural environments, because they support both the health and economy of the communities they serve. Here are some top-line recommendations to stay the course for continued success, even with impending healthcare reform changes on the horizon:
Even with health care changes ahead, I’m confident community hospitals can persevere by focusing on and optimizing their strength and position as we welcome the New Year.
Learn more about strategies for success moving ahead in 2017.
by Brian Doerr, CHC SVP Information Technology & Security and Privacy Officer
In this era of electronic data, we’ve come to expect that personal information stored electronically will remain private, accessible only on a “need-to-know” basis to those you identify. But what happens when organizational data becomes available to others as a result of cyber attacks? As an industry, hospitals face particular challenges.
In fact, health care organizations top the list of the most cyber-attacked industries, followed by manufacturing, financial services and the government. Data breaches place private patient data at risk, and HIPAA standards and compliance audits don’t adequately address security issues.
Some of the reasons why health care security risks have steadily increased include:
Although the healthcare industry has taken steps to manage IT intrusions, risk management ultimately falls to health systems, hospitals and physician practices. Based on my experience working with these front-line providers, here are some best practice tips to quickly identify, reduce, and manage hospital risk while balancing safety and access to data.
Learn more about CHC Information Management Services including IT technology and security.
by Laurie Breedlove, CHC SVP of Human Resources
Managing organizational change presents extraordinary challenges, particularly when the change involves replacing a chief executive officer following their departure. For smaller community hospitals in transition, interim leaders can help fill this gap. An interim executive may be someone close to retirement, a leader seeking a different work-life balance, or an experienced, skilled executive unable to relocate for a permanent role where travel is an option.
An interim can devote time and attention to their role alleviating work overloads on others, bring objectivity to a new assignment through an unbiased perspective, and bring experience, enthusiasm and optimism to the job. A leader with a desire to effect change and improve financial and clinical outcomes on a temporary, full-time basis can be a valuable change agent, positioning the hospital for success moving ahead and laying the groundwork for recruitment of a permanent CEO.
Gary Kendrick, for example, has been a hospital administrator since 1980. Through CHC, he has served as interim CEO for several CHC hospitals, filling a significant void until a permanent CEO has been identified.
"Each new hospital is an adventure,” Kendrick says. “The best part about being an interim executive is the opportunity to apply decades of experience as a hospital leader to help steer a hospital's future. There's often lots of work to do, so it's a job that requires rolling up your sleeves to do whatever may be needed. It's a privilege to engage the local hospital Board and work with CHC in several areas. Whether we’re working on improving operations or finances, recruiting a new physician or evaluating how care is delivered, these efforts often go the distance to improve the hospital. When I leave the community, I know they're in a better place."
Understanding how to select and prepare for an incoming interim – a CEO or another executive – will help ensure a smooth leadership transition. Here are some “must-have” tips to follow.
Finding the interim you need.
CHC has a long tradition of helping hospitals locate and place experienced interim executives to fill key leadership positions until permanent candidates are found. This support is invaluable to hospital Board members, who often have business careers in the community that are not healthcare related. CHC specializes in finding an interim executive with just the right combination of talent and skills to address an organization’s customized need. The result? The hospital benefits from a renewed sense of commitment with a new leader, along with the varied experience they bring to the table.
Support for an incoming interim.
Candidates should clearly understand the expectations of the role. The hospital Board should be engaged in clarifying the role of the CEO for an incoming interim; for other executives such as a CFO or CNO the hospital CEO should take the lead in communication. Hospital leaders and managers must perceive the interim as a part of their team ¬– not a “temporary” person.
Communicate regularly with key stakeholders.
Steady, ongoing communication between an interim executive and hospital managers is critical, including regular meetings with individual managers and monthly department manager meetings. When an interim executive is placed by CHC Consulting at a client hospital, CHC meets regularly with the interim to support and facilitate hospital operations and initiatives on an ongoing basis.
Although change can be challenging, following these ideas can help ease the transition as a new leader arrives. In the long run, the hospital and the community both benefit.
Learn more about CHC Consulting Management Services including the placement of interim CEOs and other executives, along with operational assessment services to identify opportunities for operational, clinical and financial improvement.
Bryan Chandler, Vice President of Business Development, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas
Physicians say that “feeling engaged” with a health care organization is crucial to job satisfaction, a finding documented consistently in survey research. And in a time of physician shortages and competition between hospitals and health systems to attract top physician talent, engagement can ultimately affect a doctor's decision to stay in their current position or seek a new one.
Improved participation and buy-in among physicians can generate inpatient and outpatient referrals and help bolster the hospital's image as a community-centered, leading-edge provider. When you engage physicians as partners, both parties benefit.
At Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, our physician engagement strategies include a robust physician relations program with these goals in mind. Service, accessibility, and accountability are among the program’s guiding principles.
A skilled physician liaison is the cornerstone of any effective physician engagement strategy. This role requires a motivated individual dedicated to the value of physician relationships – someone who possesses excellent follow-up and communication skills. Here are some tips to help you identify the best physician liaison candidates and set them up for success.
Hire the right person. This is a high-energy role. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are “must-haves” for a physician liaison. Knowledge of the market area and local dynamics, as well as an understanding of physician specialties, is critical to cultivate physician-to-physician and hospital-to-physician relationships. Your physician liaison will establish and maintain connections for professional referrals and follow up to close the loop on tasks. He or she must understand what’s expected, why it’s important, and be motivated to fulfill expectations. Your ideal candidate is a team player with a servant heart.
Create C-suite accessibility. A physician liaison needs ready access to C-suite leaders, including the CEO. It’s an integral component that can’t be overlooked. Physicians should feel their efforts are valued and appreciated, backed by a team of administrators including the liaison working together regularly on their behalf. Issues and concerns must be heard and resolved promptly.
Document activity and measure results. To monitor progress and recognize opportunities for improvement, the physician liaison should compile weekly summary reports. Documents should identify physician contacts, meetings, details on discussions, and follow-up actions.
Share physician operations/utilization reports. As valued team members, liaisons must have access to physician utilization reports and related operational data. They may be aware of the reasons why particular physician referral patterns have changed. Regular interaction with physicians can be useful in planning ahead. For instance, if a liaison learns a doctor will be on vacation for a month, sharing this news with hospital administrators and department managers would allow the hospital to plan ahead proactively, perhaps making adjustments in staffing.
Inform and educate physicians and physician office staff representatives about new hospital services or changes to existing services. Communicate personally with physicians and office staff members to clarify and reinforce any changes in policies or procedures. This builds trust, enhancing your engagement efforts.
Establish a solid working relationship with service line directors to address identified problems. It’s all about teamwork. Physician liaisons may not have the ability to solve a particular issue, but they can share concerns voiced by physicians with department managers and others who can handle the problem. Afterward, inform doctors that their concerns were indeed heard, addressed and solved.
Share the love. Encourage hospital department heads and managers to accompany physician liaison representatives on visits to physician offices. Say “thank you” to physicians and office staffs for their support. And think out of the box - always strive for better ways to communicate with your doctors. Create a culture to serve a common purpose.
Learn more about CHC Physician Alignment Strategies to enhance physician relationships.
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