Although health spending growth has slowed down in recent years, in 2018, care expenditures in US hospitals are estimated to reach $1,190 billion. In this context, it is hardly surprising that hospitals make every effort to reduce expenses.
Cost-cutting techniques can get very creative. Some hospitals invest in sustainable energy to lower utility bills, share equipment with other healthcare facilities, or consolidate suppliers. All of these methods help healthcare facilities curb costs and provide financial stability, but they require long-term engagement.
Fortunately, there are more immediate routes hospital financial executives can explore to save money. Here’s a list of 11 cost-saving measures that hospitals can implement in a few days to balance the books without cutting corners.
11 Cost-cutting Ideas to Help Hospitals Save in Less Than a Week
1. Conduct an Energy Audit
Contact a local state energy office or your contracted utility company and invite a certified auditor to assess your hospital’s energy use. A single visit will already help you determine energy savings worth thousands of dollars per year. This is a low-effort task, which you may be able to conduct for free.
2. Weigh Food to Reduce Waste
Monitor and adjust meal sizes by asking your kitchen staff to weigh every portion. Run a patient questionnaire to improve food quality and taste. Finally, research food waste tracking companies and invite one of them to help you further reduce the amount of thrown away food.
3. Conserve Water
By reducing water consumption levels, a 400-bed hospital can save even $250,000 each year. This is a low hanging fruit as you can start saving immediately by fixing dripping faucets and toilet flushes, installing water meters, and eliminating leaks. More long-term conservation opportunities include installing water-saving flush valves, motion-sensor appliances, or pressure-reducing valves.
By reducing water consumption in your hospital, you can save up to $250,000 per year.
4. Move to Online Subscriptions
Specialist press subscription rates can be exorbitant, but you can obtain significant savings by switching to online journals. Considering that numerous medical periodicals charge half price for online access as opposed to print, hospitals can easily set aside thousands of dollars each year by going paperless.
5. Eliminate Paper Records
This is another money-saving tactics that can be easily implemented in hospitals. Digitalize your patient documentation with electronic medical records software. You will not only eliminate print, but also streamline patient visits, and reduce medical errors. All of these factors will positively reflect on your hospital revenue.
6. Reduce Red Bag Waste
Every day, hospitals in high-income countries generate ca. 1 lb of biohazardous waste per bed. Its disposal is much more expensive than the disposal of ‘regular’ refuse, not to mention recyclable waste. That’s why hospitals incur gigantic losses as a result of improper waste stream management. Talk to your staff about the cost factor involved in inaccurate waste disposal and ensure all waste bins and containers are properly and distinctly marked to address this issue.
In highly developed countries, the biomedical waste in hospitals reaches about 1 lb per bed per day.
7. Improve Temperature Management
Maintaining optimal temperature in all hospital rooms can be a challenge. While operating rooms usually require a temperature between 65 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit, other hospital areas are kept a bit warmer for patients’ comfort. Every sudden drop or increase in room temperature costs precious dollars, so temperature ranges in your hospital should be centrally-managed. To keep the temperature (and budget) under control, lock thermostats so that no one can adjust them manually and set timers on the aircon systems to maintain steady thermal conditions.
8. Optimize Water Coolers
Water coolers and dispensers are essential to providing staff and patient comfort and maintaining hygiene in your facility. Hospitals can save thousands of dollars each year by introducing a few simple optimizations. To bring your energy bills down, adjust temperature ranges. Switch polypropylene cups to disposable, biodegradable cones. Also, check with your supplier if you can use bigger capacity tanks.
9. Outsource Call Handling
About 88% of appointments are made via phone. Call answering keeps your nurses and front-desk staff busy, while they should be focusing on other tasks. Still, they won’t be able to answer every single phone. By hiring a HIPAA compliant medical answering service provider, you ensure that all calls are handled in a professional and expedient manner. And there are many financial benefits tied to it, as you minimize employee costs, boost your staff productivity, and save on the infrastructure.
What hospitals can do is to use combination of Process, Data and Technology to ensure that their current assets — Human (Doctors & Nurses), Machines (Radiology, Pathology etc.) and Real Estate (Hospital/ Clinical layout) are more efficient and geared towards providing better quality of care.
10. Use an Online Booking System
Missed appointments cost the US healthcare providers the staggering $150 billion each year, SCI Solutions reports. No-shows not only drive chaos in the patient stream and generate delays, but also entail financial losses. In order to grow patient attendance, look for medical scheduling software. Those systems offer options such as online booking and visit cancellation, text and email reminders, and follow-up messages for missed appointments.
The annual cost of missed appointments in the United States is $150 billion.
11. Evaluate Hygiene Measures
As WHO, OECD and the World Bank report, 15% of hospital expenditure in high-income countries results from care mistakes or patients being infected during hospital stays. Preventing hospital infections is critical for the financial well-being of your healthcare facility and the health of your patients. Actions that you can immediately take to improve quality in this space include: promoting compliance among your staff and patients, installing sensors to detect handwashing compliance, or measuring handwash product use.
Act Now to Reduce Hospital Costs
When it comes to the cost side of the hospital business, there are numerous measures that the hospital administration can introduce to save money. Some of them will take time, but by applying the above tactics, your healthcare facility can reduce expenses right away. Would you like to start now?