Why Healthcare Should be Looking for New Opportunities to be Lean

MedSpeed has made Lean Six Sigma part of our culture. We see firsthand the benefits of Lean and its goal of providing value to our customers through a process that minimizes waste.

I’ve written before about Lean principles and how they directly impact the healthcare industry at large. Recently, I was honored to have the opportunity to again write about that impact in a guest blog post for Healthcare Finance. That post discusses intersite logistics, or healthcare transportation, which is what MedSpeed does for a living.

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Today’s CFOs Are Strategic Business Partners

I have noticed recently a trend of healthcare CFOs transitioning from the stereotype of a behind-the-scenes number cruncher to key managers who are very involved in daily operations and strategic planning. A recent article in Healthcare Finance News highlights this point.

Today’s CFOs still have an eye for numbers, but their roles are greatly expanded. “They are on the front lines, working with the CEO to develop a strategic plan for their organization, and … to identify growth opportunities,” according to Paul Esselman of Cejka Executive Search.

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Sustainability in Healthcare is More Important Than Ever

Healthcare Finance News reported that according to a recent survey, “more than half of U.S. hospitals now make sustainability a factor in purchasing decisions.” Even more importantly, the survey found that over 80 percent of hospitals in the U.S. expect to engage in sustainability purchasing within two years.

And that’s not surprising given that a different study from The Commonwealth Fund (also reported in Healthcare Finance News), found that hospital sustainability efforts could save the healthcare industry up to $5.4 billion over five years and $15 billion over 10 years.

That’s a lot of dollars.

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Create New Organizational Structure to Successfully Reduce Costs

Annual cost reduction targets have most healthcare organizations scrambling. Despite concerted efforts, many internal cost reduction initiatives “fail to produce the level of savings required” as Liz Kirk writes in Healthcare Finance News.

Why is that? Many factors can contribute to the success or failure of an organization to achieve savings’ goals, but the most common mistake is not taking a holistic approach. Ms. Kirk contends that rather than a conventional cost reduction approach lead by the CFO, a successful initiative should include the financial and operational senior leaders, as well as support teams and cost leaders. The key is to effectively balance quality and patient satisfaction with savings.

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Stretching Outside of the Four Hospital Walls

Not long ago, adding more patient beds was the principle capital expenditure for many health systems and hospitals. But in today’s environment of value-based care, that has changed.

Healthcare leaders are shifting their capital strategies. According to “Reevaluating capital spending strategies”, from Healthcare Finance News, “As healthcare reimbursement shifts from a system that rewards quantity of care to quality of care, the onus is on the CFO to determine where best to allocate financial resources.”

Now, in order to provide care outside of traditional settings, systems focus on outpatient care and deploy capital to acquire physician practices that grow their reach.  Systems are also more prudent about equipment purchases and work to share equipment between facilities.

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Transportation Steps into the National Healthcare Spotlight

Earlier this month in Healthcare Finance News, an article called “8 kinds of waste driving healthcare costs” really caught my attention. I was pleased to see that healthcare transportation has become part of the national healthcare dialogue. Marc Hafer, author of the book Simpler Healthcare, shared his views on eight different areas that could “inhibit patient flow, add cost, increase poor quality and infection and decrease patient and clinician satisfaction.”

First on the list: “transportation.” We know from our discussions with healthcare supply chain managers that transportation is not a core competency of healthcare systems or providers. But, while many organizations outsource many other areas (laundry, food service, EMS), a large number continue to retain their own transportation operations, often with minimal technology for tracking.

But perhaps the tide is turning.

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5 Daunting Issues Keeping Healthcare CEOs Up at Night: Executives focus on re-imagining healthcare delivery

Those of us in the industry are well aware of the enormous challenges facing U.S. healthcare, but probably no one feels these impending changes more than healthcare CEOs. Recently, Huron Healthcare conducted interviews with hospital CEOs to determine the top five issues keeping them up at night. As reported in Healthcare Finance News last month, the burning issues are:

1. Change management: With the amount of market-driven and reform-driven change affecting healthcare providers, CEOs are troubled by how they can prioritize

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