In 2023, care expenditures in our US hospitals are estimated to reach $1.3 Trillion. This expense is more then 5% of the america's annual GDP. In this context, its easy to see why hospitals are looking for solutions that will help them reduce their expenses.
Cost-cutting techniques come in many shapes and sizes and can become 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, however they all require a long-term engagement.
Fortunately, there are more immediate options that hospital CFOs can explore to save money. Here’s a list of 11 cost-saving measures that hospitals can implement in a few days to help 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 request a certified auditor to assess your hospital’s energy use. A single visit will already help you determine energy savings that is often thousands of dollars per month. This is a low-effort task that is often provided free of charge.
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 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 $250,000 each year. This is low hanging fruit as you can start saving immediately by fixing dripping faucets and running toilets, 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 save tens of thousands of dollars each year by going paperless.
5. Eliminate Paper Records
This is another money-saving tactic that should already be implemented in all 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 our country generate One lb of biohazardous waste per bed. Its disposal is much more expensive than the disposal of ‘regular’ trash and recyclables and often results in inflated expenses because of incorrect waste 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 the United States, 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 drop or increase in room temperature adds up to alot of extra 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 air 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 76% of appointments are made via phone. Never ending appointment calls keeps your nurses and front-desk staff busy scheduling appointments howeve it takes time away from them focusing on inhouse patients. Also, they can only handle one call at a time. By outsourcing your scheudling needs to a HIPAA compliant medical answering service provider, you can ensure that all calls are handled in a professional and expedient manner. There are also many financial benefits 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 a staggering $150 billion each year. No-shows not only cause chaos in the scheudle but they cause substantial financial losses. In order to increase patient attendance, look for medical scheduling software that sends reminders and confirmations to patients. Most 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
The National Library of Medicine reports that 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
There are numerous measures that hospital administration can introduce to start saving money. Some of them will take time but others you can start implementing immediately to start reducing expenses right away. Would you like to start now?