Is your hospital rehab department as efficient as it can be? Boosting efficiency improves patient outcomes and satisfaction and can even have a positive effect on reimbursements. In many cases, increasing efficiency only involves making a few changes to your current processes and procedures, but those changes can have a significant impact. Here are five ways you can improve efficiency immediately.
1. Emphasize Patient-Centered Care
Patient-centered care has become the new standard in hospitals across the country for a very good reason. When patients are involved in decision-making, outcomes improve. Patients who participated in a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine had less frequent hospitalizations and needed fewer lab and diagnostic tests. Providing patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and supporting those decisions can improve satisfaction and compliance.
2. Hire the Best and Brightest
Your plan to increase efficiency hinges on your staff. If they don’t embrace your efforts or don’t have the skills required to make the necessary changes, the plan will likely fail. Hiring experienced PT candidates may stretch your personnel budget, but skilled staff are the backbone of any successful rehab department. The best employees aren’t just well-educated and skilled — they’re also friendly and welcoming to your patients.
3. Buy High-Quality Equipment
One broken machine can affect patient flow in your department for days. The longer it takes for the company to send out a repair technician, the more your efficiency level plummets. Frequent equipment failures can hamper your patients’ progress and affect your reputation with medical and hospital staff. Before you buy another machine, check reviews to make sure it performs as expected and compare it against other solutions. Although everyone likes a deal (particularly hospital administration), higher prices generally reflect higher quality.
4. Embrace New Ideas
Staff members aren’t always comfortable offering suggestions, particularly if they’ve worked in other hospitals or other departments where their ideas weren’t welcome. Unfortunately, if they don’t feel free to share their thoughts, you might miss valuable opportunities to improve efficiency. Making innovation a clearly stated goal can inspire your employees to seek or develop creative techniques and tools that can improve productivity and outcomes.
5. Improve Discharge Communications
If patients soon return to the hospital because they don’t follow discharge recommendations, your department’s reputation can suffer. Improving discharge communications is as simple as:
Creating a discharge checklist to ensure that the same steps are followed every time you discharge a patient.
Explaining instructions in jargon-free language and asking the patient to repeat it back to you. Repeating instructions helps you determine if he or she truly understands what must be done.
Emphasizing exactly what will happen if he or she doesn’t follow the instructions.
Making sure written material is legible and easy-to-understand.
Referring the patients to appropriate online videos or websites that can reinforce the information you provide.
Following up with a phone call a week after discharge. If patients have questions, they may not call you, even if you tell them that your staff is eager to help.
Incorporating these suggestions can improve patient satisfaction and also increase staff engagement. When they work in a well-run, innovative department, they’re more likely to be engaged, productive and ready to tackle new challenges.