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July 20, 2011

5 Ways to Assess Your Support Departments for Continued Patient Flow Success

Hospital clinical departments are dependent on well-run and operated ancillary departments.  You can take a good measure of a well-run ancillary department by assessing its interrelationship with clinical departments and staff.

To help you make this evaluation, we've pulled together a quick checklist:

1. Have you tasked your department leaders with measuring the effectiveness of their staff?

Each support department has unique workload characteristics the flex based on some inpatient or outpatient activity.  Recognition and knowledge of this workload and ability to adjust staffing based on changes in workload are characteristics of a thriving support department.

2. Do these departments regularly exhibit their flexibility?
It is important that the department be able to overcome obstacles and create work-arounds while simultaneously producing good results.  Support departments' ability to work with older equipment and space constraints, while still producing good results, is a good indicator that the department is being managed effectively.

3. Have you evaluated your departments' coverage to determine the most appropriate schedules?
To best improve the position of the support department, evaluate the need to provide services outside of regular hours, assess the hours and days to provide such services, and determine the costs of those services.  The biggest mistake is to provide the same level of staffing/service for all days of the week and/or disregarding the proximity of a sister hospital that is offering the same services.

4. Has management communicated expected standards?
Support department management should have a clear communication plan for the myriad of standards that apply to their employees.  This communication about standards help bring to the forefront any areas where you may be out of compliance.

5. Are your departments creating satisfied "customers"?
Support departments' leadership and its staff should strive to build strong relationships with clinical departments by consistently meeting with clinical leadership and surveying clinical department satisfaction and outcomes.  When such relationship exists, problems can be brought to the forefront, addressed, and solved quickly.  Ultimately, these strong working relationships result in meeting not only the departments', but the patients' needs efficiently and effectively.

Read the full article from Executive Insight.

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