A 2017 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows admin costs in U.S. health care are the highest in the developed world. They account for over 8% of spending in the sector. The report shines a light on wasteful health care spending, which sometimes does more harm than good. There are resources available that can aid the healthcare industry in seeking ways to better educate the public as well as their employees on preventative practices that even incorporate specific healthcare software platforms to streamline and simplify an otherwise challenging topic.
At 16.9 percent of GDP, the United States has the highest total health care expenditures in the developed world. Despite this, health outcomes are often among the worst—the United States ranked 26th out of 40 nations in life expectancy at birth, 32nd out of 37th in adult diabetes, and 22nd out of 33 for ischemic heart disease mortality, 35th out of 40th in childhood obesity and last in adult obesity rates. What contributes to these staggering numbers and how can saving money and better practices improve the quality of service patients seek on a daily basis?
“The United States has the highest total health care expenditures in the developed world– and health outcomes are often among the worst.”
Identify and Evaluate Inefficient Processes
It’s no secret that our health care system in the U.S. is strained. News stories are plenty about challenges faced by the industry and those who work to support it. In talking to friends, family or co-workers, almost everyone has some sort of story about problems they have faced or horror stories about an incident in a health care facility. Short staff. Broken or missing equipment. Issues with payment or insurance. We all have been there and seen that frustration.
The inefficient processes that fill today’s medical facilities – from the largest hospital chain to the stand-alone clinic on the corner – are cause for many of our frustrations. Complex insurance rules, providers burdened by excessive paperwork, distorted market signals, constant changes in technology with equipment, treatments and service delivery – these are all contributors to inefficient processes that convolute the care we expect and receive.
With all the talk of reducing overhead costs and empowering patients, how is that possible when medical facilities themselves cannot get their own processes under control and focus on serving their patients because they are too concerned with growing costs and inefficient practices?
Re-Evaluate the Administrative Role
In many of today’s medical facilities, administrative overhead absorbs a large portion of the health care workforce and in turn, more money that could be put towards medical care teams or equipment. In a 2015 study by the Brookings Institute, an analysis of Census Bureau data shows that just 42 percent of employees at the average physician’s office are health care practitioners while 31 percent are devoted to administrative and office functions, like insurance billing and health records management.
Technology has evolved and many digital health care software programs have been created to do the task that standard administrative roles used to undertake. This software has been created to create the optimal conditions for digital-enabled innovation—speed and ubiquity of connectivity; fast, cheap, and more powerful computing; expansion of data collection and analytical capabilities. Many hospital administrators have started to take notice and take advantage of these programs. They contribute two major factors when it comes to the admin function that used to be time-consuming, frustrating and potentially prone to error:
- Increase efficiency and performance
- Improve outcomes and change behavior
From digital administration and records, online information resources and online communities, to mobile health/telehealth, and big data analytics, health care software is fully automating the administrative role in a matter of minutes versus the standard admin role that took multiple people to operate in the office. Transitioning the role to a more digital platform will save organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess salaries/benefits that could be better spent on the medical staff and equipment to treat patients rather than staff to do data-entry.
That’s not to say that the role of the admin in medical facilities is going away anytime soon. But the need for excessive numbers of staff to tackle what advances in health care software are able to handle is an inefficient expenditure that can and should be evaluated.
Hire Nurse Practitioners
While technology is making great strides in reducing the cost associated with the admin side of the health care industry, administrators are also looking at cost-effective ways in staffing measures to treat patients while still providing excellent care.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are becoming the health providers of choice for an increasing number of Americans each year. NPs are the advanced practice registered nurses, so they are qualified to treat a wide variety of illnesses, diseases, and conditions and can also order required diagnostic tests and perform detailed physical examinations. NPs can deliver as much as 80% of the health services provided by primary care physicians at equal to or better quality and, here’s the big note … at a lower cost.
When you make a doctor’s appointment or have to go to an emergency care facility or ER, who do you typically encounter first when you are in your exam room? The nurse. Many patients don’t have a set primary care provider and the NP can provide the same type of treatment that the primary physician usually takes on.
Over 40% of physicians in hospitals take on more patients than they can safely handle. When they have to attend to every patient, it is actually inefficient and can lead to them being overworked which can potentially jeopardize patient safety. By increasing the number of NPs in a physician practice, it increases overall efficiency and decreases the cost of patient visits by as much as 1/3!
In addition to providing a wide variety of health care services, NPs often teach, conduct health-related research and are active in patient advocacy and the development process of health care policy at local, state and national levels. All of these contribute to educating the public on preventative health care measures. And a more educated public equates to better knowledge on treating what ails them without unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office. As a result, health care staff can spend more time, effort and equipment treating those who truly do need their services.
Find and Implement a Health Care Asset Tracking Solution
No matter what your business or industry is, asset tracking is one of the key areas in which your organization is either saving or wasting money. Knowing what assets comprise a medical practice is a daunting task. From office furniture to pharmaceuticals to x-ray and CAT scan equipment – all of it plays an important role in patient care and all of it is central to the inner workings of a medical facility.
Asset tracking technology is changing the inefficient ways that hospitals keep up with their assets and ensuring a more cost-effective way to track and manage all the parts and pieces that keep the facility working. Customizable databases enable employees to determine what information is important to the way in which they operate their facility and can change as the practice or the industry changes. Data such as serial numbers, purchase date, or warranty information can be easily added in one click from a built-in mobile scanner and allocated users have instant access to information about any asset in a facility’s inventory.
The addition of asset tracking and management practices also ensures that guesswork is a thing of the past. Employees are no longer spending valuable time searching for equipment when it’s needed most. They know where it is and who has it. If equipment needs to be repaired or upgraded, it can be noted in the system.
It’s also helpful for facilities that need to track and consistently order products. Asset tracking software can keep accurate and up-to-date records of what’s in stock and even send alerts when numbers are low so that there’s no excuse for an item, such as a certain medicine, to be out of stock.
Little additions like asset tracking for health care facilities can add up to big savings when it comes to the bottom line and for end of year audits. Accountability and customer service also increase when organizations know what they have (or don’t have). More focus is placed on the patient than the search for equipment or finding a replacement for something that is broken or un-operable. In the medical industry, time is of the essence. Lives depend on the service and speed of the staff. If they don’t have the resources immediately at hand, it could be too late.
Asset Panda, the leader in asset tracking and management, has been a trusted and proven partner to health care facilities of every size to manage and reduce the inefficiencies that are costing them, and ultimately you, money. Our health care asset management platform makes it easy for medical facilities and their staff to manage patient records, locate medical equipment, access maintenance records, and ascertain the status of each piece of equipment. Asset Panda features a health care asset tracking platform that ensures medical teams have the necessary information to access important medical assets when they are needed. Designated users can scan each asset with a built-in barcode scanner to access full histories, generate reports, track maintenance schedules, or submit help tickets on every asset scanned in. Highly configurable, Asset Panda quickly integrates with existing systems, changing as your needs change for unlimited ways to organize and access important information throughout an asset’s entire lifecycle.
Nothing is ever 100% in the health care industry. It is and probably always will be constantly changing. But finding ways to save money and more efficient practices can have a positive impact on the staff and the patients as well. Asset Panda’s healthcare asset management platform will help you deliver the best in patient care. Learn more by visiting www.assetpanda.com.
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