We are a skeptical group in healthcare! This attitude is brought about by the medical and scientific training we have received in our schooling. We are also creatures of habit which is one of the strongest influences on our behavior in and out of the workplace. Therefore, to change our behavior or others’ we need irrefutable evidence that what we or they have been doing for years might not be the best for our patients, staff, and our healthcare organization’s bottom line.
For instance, for years we have been told to wash our hands after contact with a patient or visiting a restroom to prevent cross-infections; however, as a group, numerous studies have shown that there is a very low compliance to this evidence-based best practice. To this end, I recently read where the head of infection control petri dished all of his medical staff at their monthly medical staff meeting and then shared the results at their next meeting.
You could have guessed it, the diseases found on theses physicians’ hands was astonishing and set in motion a change in the physicians’ behavior that in a very short time contributed to exceptionally high hand washing compliance by physicians at this hospital. What happened here: irrefutable evidence was presented to these physicians that couldn’t be ignored, denied, or talked away. This is what strong evidence can do for you, too!
Too often, department heads, managers, and physicians will try to justify their costly, and sometimes, irrational practices with double-talk. Make sure you have irrefutable evidence that shows that their current practice is outmoded, out-of-date, and needs to change. Don’t be so eager to accept your department heads’, managers’, or even physicians’ excuses as fact. Test their assumptions fully, before agreeing with their explanations!
The biggest excuse or justification that we hear from department heads and managers when presented with unfavorable cost data is that the increase in their expenses is due to their census or procedures jumping on a particular category of purchase (e.g., gloves, oxygen sensors, underpads, etc.) when, in fact, our data usually shows that their census or procedures are actually down for the period in question. Don’t let this census or procedure game take you off balance. Remember this rule: Accept but verify what they are telling you.
In the new healthcare economy we work in today, only the most efficient, effective, and progressive healthcare organizations will survive. If you aren’t regularly changing minds and hearts with evidence-based data, case studies, and original research then your hospital, system, or IDN is at risk of failing.
With this said, no longer can we let wasteful and inefficient practices stand in our healthcare value analysis programs. They must be challenged every day to rid our healthcare organizations of unneeded and unwanted costs. We are now in a low margin business where every penny counts. Keep this in mind when a department head or manager tells you that what he or she is spending on a certain product or service doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.