Change is coming to our nation's health care in some form
or another. Whatever form that change takes, the lowest cost
provider with the highest quality will win. Improving productivity
and curbing costs in the service areas of the hospital - the
ancillary services - is essential. Intuitive hospital administrators
are demanding better information and the tools of technology
to improve productivity and prepare for the implications of
possible shifts in the payment system.
Too often "productivity" conveys a negative, oppressive
image. Yet, to save the quality of patient care, now more
than ever, positive productivity is recognized as the solution
for much that ails health care.
In an "ideal world", staff members know their jobs
and what's expected of them. Goals are clearly communicated
and understood. Progress is easily assessed. Performance reviews
are timely and accurate, and overwhelmingly positive. The
ancillary departments are busy. So what could possibly be
wrong? Low productivity, dissatisfied patients, poor quality
performance, operational inefficiencies and an unsatisfactory
bottom line indicate the problems.
So where do you focus to get ancillary services to the highest
quality with the lowest cost for today, and be strategically
prepared to absorb imminent changes on the horizon? Positive
productivity is easier, quicker and more affordable than you
What You Need When You Need It
Total Productivity Track (TPT) is the leader in real time
information for communication and reports for ancillary services.
Secure and confidential, customized to the specifications
of each client, TPT has a proven success record in best practice
hospitals from coast to coast. TPT is a productivity guidepost
for inter-department communications and reports targets and
measurements with unprecedented ease and speed. Continuously
gathering real time information enhances department and employee
performance. The program pays for itself in benefits for all.
To see the quality and simplicity of this valuable tool yourself,
take a ride with a complimentary live demo online.
Total Productivity Track works with numerous ancillary departments
who have found the TPT program to be the best management tool
in the box. When the program is first introduced, the hardest
truth for most directors and managers to grasp is the fact
that successful leadership isn't the same skill set as good
management. In fact, the leadership qualities that drove most
directors to do extremely well in their health care career
and to establish themselves as a manager of an ancillary service
department - self-starter, driven to excel, highly focused,
independent - may encounter problems effectively managing
a staff. However, those same leadership characteristics can
lead them to excel when using the TPT management tool.
It bears emphasis that TPT measures success and efficiency,
not failure. Chances are your ancillary department directors
want to do well. They're probably smart, caring people who
have the skills to make a difference with the patients and
the service. The independent TPT program will empower them
to more clearly communicate specific targets, expectations
and goals to each staff person. (They already know that telling
each staff person "do your job and work hard" is
Targets with Moving Parts
To insure consistent expectations and performance, it is vital
to set and communicate specific targets. Consistency is extremely
difficult to achieve in the health care workplace for one
simple reason: there are a lot of people and moving parts
in each and every day. For a director, having daily and monthly
goals, and implementing month-to-date tracking, smoothes out
the ups and downs of employees and patients. Both hospital
administrators and directors welcome service operations that
are stable and reliable.
Quality care is always the No.1 goal. Introducing a productivity
program must begin by stressing quality, connecting the dots
for the staff to recognize the close relationship between
quality care and productivity. When the department runs like
a well-oiled machine, patients are getting quality service
and care. When staff members achieve their daily targets,
quality and cost to the hospital will also be on target. That
is the foundation for using the Total Productivity Track program
that can lead administrators, directors and staff members
to share in creating the much sought after "ideal world"
to deal with changing health care environments.
Any director of an ancillary department can testify that if
the staff's not happy, no one's happy. A happy staff is a
more productive staff. The reverse is also true: a productive
staff is a happier staff.
The Five Essential Steps for Achieving an Ideal World for
Ancillary Services (see below) provide an introductory overview
for directors and staff members to understand the process
and benefits of utilizing the TPT program.
Following administration's decision to adopt the TPT program
and services, department heads contact TPT to arrange a date
for implementation. As people will support that which they
have a part in creating, goals and start-up details are designed
on an individual basis. Ongoing customer support is assured.
Goals should allow staff members to achieve a greater degree
of personal and professional independence. Understanding clearly
what is expected of them and the importance of each person
on their team, they are self-motivated to achieve their targets.
As a result, more confident employees are more productive
team members, sharing in their individual and overall successes
and consistently fulfilling expectations.
If a new national health care plan is approved this year,
it will take a very long period to overhaul the nation's health
care system. But a choice must be made now. Leading hospital
administrators understand that and are beginning their preparation
now by evaluating their services, costs and productivity.
The highest quality care will only be preserved by establishing
positive productivity at the lowest cost.
Five Essential Steps for Achieving an Ideal World for Ancillary
1. Increase your knowledge
Install the Total Productivity Track program-TPT will do 95%
of the setup. Departments will have a specific, reliable way
to provide and track valuable information on a real time,
How many patients, procedures, tasks, etc. comprise your
average volume each day? How much volume could you potentially
service with your current staff? Presumably, you know what
your cost-per-care-service is and you know what staff performance
is capable of doing. But do you know what it costs to complete
each service act? The software program will allow the staff
to input daily activities, so you can obtain accurate real-time
information and readily track the staff's performance and
the costs to the department.
2. Measure productivity all the time
Too often, measuring productivity is used as a punishment.
Someone falls down on the job, and then you scrutinize and
monitor performance as a probationary exercise. Productivity
may rise in the short-term, but it's often only a matter of
time before it trails off again. All you've really accomplished
is to create a negative reinforcement for the entire staff.
Positive productivity is an ongoing measurement of success,
not failure. It emphasizes what is commendable. Employees
are encouraged and develop positive work habits as they strive
to achieve individual targets. Measuring successful productivity
becomes as commonplace as ordering supplies or turning in
3. Use benchmarks
Compare your staff's productivity to the overall hospital
ancillary service world. With TPT you can compare your staff
to the "average" employee in your particular service
area on a national basis in terms of targets and cost to produce
a completed care service or procedure. Communicate benchmark
information to your staff so they have the same perspective.
Productivity shouldn't be a guessing game. It should be concrete
and measurable. When you use benchmarks and targets, your
staff won't think that you're making up arbitrary goals.
4. Go high tech
Make your job easier and success more attainable. Choose a
technology service that has a proven success record in best
practice hospitals across the country. Total Productivity
Track knows ancillary services. TPT is tailored to the needs
and goals of each client, providing secure, confidential,
real-time information that tracks productivity and all non-chargeable
activities and projections. The TPT program allows staff members
to input their individual information and view their daily
progress toward targets. You are able to quickly provide factual
information to the staff and reduce possibilities for miscommunication
regarding goals and progress.
5. Reward success
"Catch people doing something right." Reward your
staff for staying on track, meeting their targets, providing
quality service and keeping the ancillary department running
Richard D. Tinsley is Founder and CEO of Total Productivity
Track, a VHA-Central endorsed company.