Recovering from the financial and operational effects of COVID-19 will require a strategy that focuses on both reducing costs and improving operations.
Support service departments can help you address both of these. Departments such as environmental services (EVS), patient transport, food service, and others have the potential to operate more efficiently and save money.
Here are three opportunities many hospitals have to reduce costs through their support service departments.
If you don’t have a system in place to track your linen usage, there’s a good chance you’re overusing it. This can lead, in some cases, to hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs every year.
This can be avoided by appointing a linen manager to track usage and educate clinical staff on best practices. A linen manager helps avoid things like inconsistent disposal, weighing linen when wet rather than dry, and incorrect usage — all things that contribute to avoidable costs.
HHS began providing linen utilization management (LUM) services in 2015, and by the summer of 2019, we eliminated 29 million pounds of unnecessary linen usage.
In addition to cost savings, it also has a significant environmental impact by reducing the amount of water you’re using and even lowering your greenhouse gas emissions.
As you recover from COVID-19, managing your linen usage is a great way to reduce costs without cutting any labor, while also contributing to a healthier and more sustainable environment.
Using technology to improve distribution of labor
You shouldn’t be paying nurses to do patient sitting or patient transport tasks. But it happens all the time, even in hospitals that have dedicated sitters and transporters.
There are a few reasons this happens, but it can generally be traced back to a lack of technology and inadequate training.
To successfully rebuild after COVID-19, you’ll need to take advantage of technology that can help you manage the distribution of labor throughout your hospital.
Tools such as BedWatch Service Control give clinicians the ability to easily make requests and support departments the power to respond in real time. This allows you to see how your hospital is operating and where there are opportunities to use labor more efficiently.
This will not only reduce labor costs but will give your nurses more time to focus on patient care and help fight against clinician burnout.
Using this kind of technology can also improve the patient experience. By reducing transport and turnaround times, patients won’t spend as much time in the waiting room. And because clinicians are less burdened by non-clinical tasks, they’ll have more mental and emotional energy to put into every patient interaction.
Getting the most out group purchasing organizations (GPOs)
Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) leverage collective buying power to get better prices from vendors. GPOs can be used for a variety of purchasing needs for your hospital, including support services.
Your hospital’s culinary department, for example, can save a lot of money by belonging to a GPO. But it’s also important to make sure you have someone who knows how to take full advantage of the potential cost savings.
A common missed opportunity is not buying things that qualify for certain rebate programs. This is a small but simple way to save money. And, in the midst of COVID-19, every little bit counts.
Recovering from the pandemic will involve a collective effort across your hospital. Support service departments should be helping your hospital move forward, not holding it back.As you look to the future, don’t neglect the opportunities there are to save money and improve the patient experience through these departments.