Improving the delivery of healthcare needs care providers and institutions to move beyond traditional approaches to solving problems. Instead, the industry needs to embrace the need for expert management and administration. That can come in a number of ways. One is to have personnel attain an MBA in health administration, so they have the theoretical basis for better operations.
Another is to keep abreast of the newest findings and observations in the field. One particularly good example is an article by Dr. Thomas Lee in the Harvard Business Review. Lee focuses on five examples of smart management in healthcare. But with a slightly different reading, you can get tips of five important practices in how to manage healthcare practices.
The University of Utah’s healthcare system tried an experiment in radical transparency. Doctors have increasingly become subjects of online review sites where many see negative comments from patients. In 2012, the University started to post all patient comments on its site allowing people to locate a doctor. By making everything visible, there was a higher volume of comments that likely offered a more balanced view of professionals. At the same time, the “relatively few” negative comments helped doctors realize how important each patient interaction was. On the whole, patients were better informed and doctors were motivated to improve.
The Mayo Clinic has worked to eliminate the idea of passing patients from one expert to another. If someone arrives with an issue that immediately sounds like it might be something for one specialist, but an examination or tests show another problem, a second doctor will become involved. But the referring physician remains active in the case, being sure that things progress properly. Instead of everyone having their own patients, the system has patients and all the professionals are a part. Patient care improved and the organization saw a benefit. Avoiding a system of “superstars” meant greater flexibility in treating patients, managing its workflow, and in growth.
The Integrated Pelvic Health Program at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago has gynecology, urogynecology, and colorectal surgery all in one place. Lee was surprised to see events like a physician and a physical therapist discussing a patient’s treatment, even though each has a separate area of expertise, neither could adequately do the job of the other, and both were necessary to a given course of treatment. Another example comes from Hennepin County Medical Center, which has the dental department next to emergency care, because accidents often involve dental damage. Removing strict silos of responsibility is often a good practice.
In the San Francisco Bay area, Contra Costa Health is a “safety net” provider. When asked, patients were often confronted with a lack of food, housing, and money to keep utilities on. Now Contra Costa works with other professionals and organizations to take a more holistic approach to the problems their patients face. But people don’t have to be poor to be affected by circumstances and events in their lives, and paying attention to the patient’s context can lead to more effective treatment.
Concentrating volume and resources can lead to improved care. London, in 2010, consolidated stroke treatment in eight of 34 hospitals. Doing so meant having the doctors, nurses, and therapists who focused on stroke victims available. Mortality dropped by a quarter and total patient spending decreased by 6 percent. As in any other industry, smart healthcare management starts with paying attention to management basics and on emerging intelligent practices of other organizations.