What is Healthcare Operations & How Do I Improve It?
Effective operations are essential in any industry, but especially in healthcare. Healthcare companies such as dental offices, medical offices, veterinary facilities, and gyms depend upon efficient operations to improve the health of their patients. With the rapid changes in the industry, however, operations professionals — including facilities managers — must constantly learn new ways to support the clinical staff. Finding industry-knowledgeable partners can make learning easier.
What is Healthcare Operations?
The term “healthcare operations” refers to healthcare facilities’ day-to-day administrative, financial, and legal practices. The term includes tasks such as processing invoices and payments and reimbursements, ordering and recording supplies, scheduling workers, updating records, and remaining in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.
Healthcare operations practices impact the patient experience and the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission. For example, filling and other dental work will be much more painful if a dental office runs out of Novocaine. If recordkeeping is poor, the doctor may be unaware of a patient’s allergies and prescribe a dangerous drug. Also, poor recordkeeping can result in privacy violations under regulations such as HIPAA.
Healthcare Operations and Facilities Management
Facilities management is an integral part of healthcare operations because it bridges the gap between the patient experience and the upkeep of the healthcare facility. Healthcare companies must have safe, comfortable buildings to operate effectively and provide a high standard of care. The equipment also must function properly. For example, if a vital machine breaks down, it can significantly affect the patient’s health and safety.
Healthcare Operations Challenges
Healthcare operations face several challenges. Among these are:
- Controlling health care costs. Healthcare facilities must operate as efficiently and manage costs. Most healthcare operations are for-profit, meaning they must provide a return on investment to owners or shareholders while still providing excellent patient care. Both for-profit and nonprofit healthcare organizations must also effectively allocate resources, including financial resources.
- Patient safety. One of the promises in the Hippocratic oath is to do no harm. Healthcare facilities must ensure that they protect patients’ safety at every step.
- Regulatory compliance. Healthcare organizations must ensure patient privacy, protect their workers under OSHA guidelines, and prevent fraud in billing.
How to Improve Healthcare Operations
Organizations can improve their operations in the critical areas of cost management, patient safety, and regulatory compliance. Automating routine tasks, such as equipment and systems maintenance, is one way to ensure continued operations and patient safety while reducing labor costs. It can also help divert labor to direct patient care tasks and away from back office functions. The more staff available for direct patient care, the better the patient’s experience. Automation can also help the organization more easily remain in compliance with pertinent regulations.
Keeping equipment operating optimally is also a significant factor in healthcare operations excellence. A proactive maintenance strategy solves issues before the equipment breaks down and will help keep machines ready at all times.
Access to operations data can also help healthcare organizations streamline their processes to maintain an excellent level of patient care without overspending.
The Future of Healthcare Operations
In the future, healthcare facilities managers will be using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to automate many tasks, including recordkeeping, gathering of data, and determining the optimal time to perform maintenance on systems and equipment. Al can also automate the supply chain management process by providing information about current inventory, past utilization trends, and estimated future usage. Al also can help with vendor contract management. Al technologies will help healthcare organizations save money while continuing to improve patient care.
Another trend is telemedicine, which enables providers to provide care for patients virtually. Telemedicine brings several challenges to healthcare operations. These include determining how to receive insurance reimbursements and figuring out how to comply with privacy regulations, especially since users will access care from various devices. Some medical practices implementing telehealth widely report that some staff members have experienced screen fatigue issues. Ergonomics and better scheduling may be able to resolve some of these issues.
Keeping Your Facilities Healthy
Efficient healthcare operations are critical to providing excellent patient care while also making an acceptable profit and remaining in compliance with regulations. Facilities management is an integral part of healthcare operations. The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, using technologies such as Al and making greater use of telemedicine. Operations must keep up with the changes.
Healthcare organizations can improve their operations and move into the future by collecting and using the correct data, automating when possible, and enabling effective communication among all caregivers. They can also improve their operations by providing employees with the right tools to have the information necessary to get the job done.
ServiceChannel is your healthcare operations partner. We understand the challenges of this ever-changing industry and the importance of continuing to provide stellar care and reduce costs. ServiceChannel provides collaborative managed service options to help you achieve peak facilities performance. Find out more about how we can help improve your healthcare operations.