With the ever-increasing operating costs associated with 21st century healthcare, searching for cost savings opportunities is at the top of many hospital administrators to-do lists. While it may not be an option that comes to mind for many, one place that savings can frequently be found is through linen management.
"Linen is the last bastion of pure, true savings hospitals can tap into, simply by reducing unnecessary waste," says Jake McCuistion, Executive Vice President of Patient Flow and Linen Utilization Management (LUM) with HHS. "Linen management can be very time consuming, so hospitals have to invest in order to run this kind of program effectively in-house."
HHS began offering linen utilization as a unique service line in November 2014 when HHS executives noticed opportunities to reduce waste and improve cost savings for some partner facilities. Currently, HHS supplies linen services for more than 50 healthcare facilities in 13 states.
Within the first year at a new account, the HHS LUM program typically sees a reduction in pounds of linen usage by 26%.
"We operate by essentially putting our operating costs on the line, because we don’t get paid unless we perform. Our operating costs are funded by savings we are able to find. Essentially, we provide a free team member to the hospital, and we don’t get paid until they see savings. That leaves no risk for the hospital," says McCuistion.
The HHS LUM program effectively manages costs by installing a full-time, on-site Linen Utilization Manager at the facility, whose goal is to reduce linen usage and eliminate unnecessary waste. The manager studies how linen is being used in the facility and looks for for common areas of waste, such as linen being removed from the facility by EMS staff or patients, or being thrown away when it could be laundered and reused. The manager then works with hospital staff to review processes, create new best practices, and develop and implement strategies to make more efficient use of linen.
"We educate the linen users to view linen as a commodity that should be preserved, as opposed to looking at it as a disposable supply," says McCuistion. "It's a simple, pragmatic approach based on educating end users and reducing waste wherever possible."
When searching for cost savings in your facility, it pays to remember the little costs that can add up to make a big difference.
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