Accelerate Your Progress with Integrated Capacity Management

Three Key Reasons Hospitals Struggle to Improve Patient Outcomes and Labor Costs

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quotation marksIntegrated capacity management help[s] reduce labor costs, length of stay and hospital-acquired conditions.quotation marks

Relying on intuition, some healthcare leaders think there is an inverse relationship between positive patient outcomes and healthy labor costs. When labor costs improve, they assume staff is reduced and patient outcomes suffer. And when labor costs worsen, leadership believes it’s easier to meet quality goals and control length of stay. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hospitals implementing an integrated capacity management strategy have discovered that there were three key reasons holding them back from improving outcomes while simultaneously reducing labor costs.

1. Sluggish throughput.

It’s a busy night in the ED, and the team can’t move people into beds fast enough. The bed management system says there are beds available, but the units say otherwise. When patients aren’t discharged as soon as they are ready to be, the ED backs up and environmental services and transport back up. The patient experience also suffers and quality outcomes decline as patients are boarded in the ED, placed off service or patient acuity isn’t well matched with staff credentials. The performance of every single function of a hospital or health system impacts that of the others, and transparency is critical to throughput success.

2. Unempowered staff.

Opaqueness in utilization can lead to a frustrated team that doesn’t feel empowered to identify and solve quality and throughput issues on their own. When scheduling isn’t transparent, team members may feel that scheduling preference is given to others rather than seeing that scheduling is based on patient demand and acuity forecasts and must be aligned to those criteria.

3. Inefficient resource utilization.

When staffing and scheduling is based on historical averages rather than using more accurate predictive analytics, human and physical resources are not used in the most efficient manner possible. Misalignment can occur between patient acuity needs and staff credentials. Plainly stated, quality suffers and costs soar.

In my experience working with customers like Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Hospital, we’ve seen integrated capacity management help reduce labor costs, length of stay and hospital-acquired conditions. Sluggish throughput can be resolved by creating a transparent view of the patient journey that can be followed by all staff members. Disengaged staff are empowered with tools to quickly identify and act upon patient flow backups, including bringing in additional staff to fill open shifts. Resource utilization efficiency is improved through predictive analytics that facilitate more accurate alignment of staff scheduling to predicted patient census and acuity.

Read more about Atlantic Health System’s success in the current issue of Healthcare Executive. CNO MaryPat Sullivan discusses how an integrated capacity management strategy has helped reduce boarded hours in the ED by 80% while simultaneously reducing overtime and daily labor costs.


About Billie Whitehurst

Billie Whitehurst

Billie Whitehurst, MS, RN, is vice president of Capacity Management for McKesson Connected Care and Analytics, where she leads efforts to help providers achieve sustainable operating improvements by enabling a proactive approach to workforce and capacity planning. She also oversees McKesson’s Extended Care Solutions Group, which offers clinical and agency management solutions for home health and hospice providers.