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Hospital Labor Productivity: Squeezing the Turnip?


Assembling the vast amounts of data in healthcare is both a technical and political challenge. I’ve worked at or with multiple hospitals where the finance and clinical teams never really collaborate and therefore the lens put on either domain is not terribly realistic. Truly merging and using the data requires organizational transparency and a commitment to shared goals that promote an environment of accountability and trusted data.

The key to trusted data is transparency. There is an urgency to consider new approaches as a result of the shift in reimbursement rates that are now tied to clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Correlating clinical and financial data with a focus on workforce data can be very revealing … much more than just “squeezing the turnip” for cost efficiencies.

Salaries and benefits can account for more than 55% of a hospital’s expenses. Productivity monitoring is the ratio between the quantity of output and the quantity of input used to generate that output. It is basically used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization in generating output with the resources available.

Huge insights can be gained by retroactively analyzing and optimizing shift management and overtime hours but I also see a new focus on forecasting productivity as a part of the economic model. If there is a large gap between the required and actual hours worked, the quality of the work can be also negatively impacted. This correlation of productivity to patient safety is very important. All too often we hear that “my patients are sicker than theirs” but the proof is in the data as we begin to focus on reducing the number of admissions and shortening length of stay.

The focus on productivity doesn’t end on the expense side of the equation with controlling overtime. Perficient has recently worked with a large academic medical center who is applying these techniques to model provider revenue targets. Determining productivity objectives based on work Relative Value Unites (wRVU’s are numbers assigned to services that establish the differing amounts of provider effort and expertise associated with a clinical care event) requires extensive analysis and is especially challenging in an academic environment. Data requirements include sources such as time-tracking, EMR data, clinic schedule data, billing data and benchmarking data.

Perficient has a proven track record of implementing enterprise performance management solutions within healthcare, including strategy, financial close, budgeting, productivity, forecasting and costing / decision support solutions. In our new guide, 6 Healthcare Performance Management Trends, we take a look at six performance management trends healthcare executives need to be thinking about in 2016 and beyond. We’ll identify technology strategies and solutions that will help healthcare organizations succeed in a data-driven, cost-management culture. Download the guide today!

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Terie McClintock

Terie McClintock is the Oracle Healthcare Practice Director at Perficient, Inc. where she is responsible for providing healthcare subject matter expertise to the Perficient Oracle National Business Unit while also cultivating and managing the partnership with Oracle’s Healthcare Vertical and Horizontal Business Units. Terie has more than 25 years of IT experience. Prior to joining Perficient, Terie contributed over 13 years at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center with the most recent title of Director, Data Management Services. Prior to M.D. Anderson, Terie worked for IBM as a Senior Consultant.

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