Hospital Laboratories are undergoing unique operational and financial challenges. Here below is a slide show of three case studies of recent operational excellence. They all began with senior executives hiring consultants to use benchmarks to build new labor budgets, cut positions and reduce cost. And all three did something quite different, but with much better results.
All three required detailed study and teamwork. This required a willingness to ask the uncomfortable questions of "What happened to your volume? Where is it now? What are your service levels? What is your backlog? What is the satisfaction level of your colleagues, patients and providers? What and where is your leakage? What is your direct line workload and productivity? What is your QC, supervisory, cross-training and onboarding overhead? What is your experience level by bench, shift and day of week? " Questions that don't have easy answers. Questions without readily available data. These questions are not "out of scope" to Workforce projects. They are the scope.
Results improved the bottom line much faster than any labor cuts could have done with three-to-10 times the margin improvement of labor cuts. These projects also yielded a variety of service improvements, staffing stability, growing associate engagement, and rising patient and provider satisfaction scores.
Making those cuts would have harmed the capacity of these departments to recover and further grow their volumes, pushing down service and satisfaction. A decent consultant knows all this. As do most hospital executives. But only an excellent consultant says so, and acts on that knowledge.
These case studies are what happens when executives take the risk to engage all participants and trust the development of answers that run entirely opposite of their best but limited judgement.
Hospitals need consultants who choose to do the right things, the difficult things, the unpopular things however controversial; the counter-intuitive things, not the expected things, not the easy things, when inconvenient facts no one else believes or understands, lead that way. Facts that would never have come to light without the insight to get them first, before acting.
Because we are all led by example, often the consultant, as the "expert", must therefore become that better example. They must be the first to say "I'm not really sure. Let's take a closer look at a few different things together."
But for that we need executives willing to support that journey, to have their notions of how to get there overturned, and take the journey of seeing and learning anew side by side with their management and consultants.