How to Measure Productivity in Healthcare

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A health information manager analyzes a report.Productivity is valued in any workplace, but it’s especially coveted in healthcare settings. Healthcare organizations that maintain high levels of productivity can serve their patients efficiently while minimizing the cost of care.

In pursuit of higher productivity levels, healthcare organizations are constantly seeking new methods to empower their teams, streamline processes, and remove some of the most common obstacles to treatment. As impactful as these efforts can be, they all hinge on the availability of data. To make sure they are improving productivity without compromising the quality of care, health organizations need access to quantifiable productivity metrics.

“How do you measure productivity in healthcare?” is therefore an important question for any medical organization to consider. Health information professionals play an especially big role in putting productivity analytics into place. As such, one way to prepare to add value to a healthcare organization, specifically by bolstering productivity metrics, is pursuing an advanced degree in health information management.

Why Measuring Productivity in Healthcare Matters

Understanding the benefits that productivity measurements can offer may be helpful in learning how to measure productivity in healthcare.

Keeping Costs Down

One of the biggest problems with the American healthcare system is its cost. According to data from McKinsey, the United States spends 18% of its gross domestic product on healthcare. While some of this cost is necessary for ensuring convenience and quality of care, part of it stems from inefficiency—specifically, from treatment processes that add little or no value to the patient or provider.

Healthcare organizations that minimize these inefficiencies and remove nonproductive steps from their internal processes also minimize their cost of care, passing savings on to the government, employers, insurance companies and, ultimately, patients and consumers.

Preventing Slowdowns for Patients

Healthcare productivity leads to more expedient and convenient care for patients.

By monitoring and measuring productivity, healthcare organizations may be able to identify the bottlenecks that make it hard for patients to get the care they need when they need it. Some examples include time-consuming paperwork, nonautomated medication management systems and delays in the supply chain. With the right productivity analytics, organizations can identify these obstacles to treatment.

The Strategies Behind Efficient Productivity

While multiple strategies can help organizations improve their productivity, many of them fall under two basic categories: analyzing core productivity metrics and implementing electronic systems to automate and optimize.

Analyzing the Data

First, healthcare organizations can analyze productivity metrics to identify areas where workflows are inefficient or where they are spending a lot of money without necessarily generating much value. A number of metrics may be worth monitoring, including:

  • Task difficulties
  • Workflow excesses
  • Employee or departmental performance

These metrics provide healthcare decision-makers with real data points that they can use as they consider making changes to their internal processes.

Optimizing the Systems

Equipped with this data, healthcare organizations may also wish to implement electronic systems to eliminate inefficient procedures, leading to optimized, more cost-effective care for patients. Sometimes, this might mean looking for simple, repeatable tasks and automating them, freeing staff members to use their time and energy elsewhere. In other instances, it may mean seeking areas where staff members receive information that doesn’t help them do their jobs more efficiently; eliminating this “noise” may help boost productivity.

Health Information Management and Measuring Productivity

Within any clinical organization, the task of determining how to measure productivity in healthcare falls to the health IT team.

Specifically, the health information management team can implement and manage strategies to gather and analyze data to uncover notable inefficiencies or productivity gaps.

Maintaining Records

Maintaining the accuracy of electronic health records (EHRs) often entails procedural inefficiency. In many healthcare organizations, nurses and technicians spend a lot of time double-checking and verifying information, but they can leverage technology to automate much of this work.

Uploading Documentation

As organizations shift all of their records from paper to digital, they need to digitize old documents and upload them to the cloud. This is time-consuming work that takes away from direct patient care, which means it’s just the kind of low-value activity that might be targeted by health information management specialists.

Managing Chart Retrieval

Another source of procedural inefficiency is chart retrieval; with the right electronic system, a health information management professional can make charts more easily accessible to the providers who need them.

Performing Quality Checks

While healthcare organizations naturally want to emphasize patient safety and quality of care, they don’t have to perform quality checks manually; they can implement automated double-check systems to minimize the burden on nurses and providers.

Learn More About Boosting Healthcare Productivity

Improving organizational productivity starts with data. An advanced degree, such as the University of Illinois at Chicago’s online Master of Science in Health Information Management, allows students to learn more about developing the data collection and analysis systems needed to help a medical organization eliminate operational inefficiencies. Find out more about how the University of Illinois at Chicago can position you for success in developing healthcare productivity strategies.

Recommended Readings

What Is Healthcare Compliance? Exploring a Core Concept in Care Delivery
Mobile Health: Tools, Benefits and Applications
Tools and Strategies for Visualizing Health Data

Sources:

Becker’s Hospital Review, “6 Steps to Unlock Higher Productivity and Improve Collections”
Health Affairs, “Improving Hospital Productivity as a Means to Reducing Costs”
McKinsey, “The Productivity Imperative for Healthcare Delivery in the United States”
Perspectives in Health Information Management, “Developing and Implementing Health Information Management Document Imaging Productivity Standards: A Case Study From an Acute Care Community Hospital”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “A Closer Look: Private Community Hospitals”