Hospital administrators’ decisions and actions have a direct impact on patient care. These executives are in charge of establishing goals and plans, defining organizational culture, checking quality, reviewing performance, selecting and deploying new technologies, and simply overseeing daily operations. Whatever the manager is doing, the amount of time and effort they put in impacts process quality and safety, performance, and, ultimately, patient outcomes.
No one wants to be discharged from the hospital, only to return a few days or weeks later. This is precisely as unappealing to hospital administrators as it is to patients. Readmissions are expensive for healthcare systems, but they also indicate a poor overall level of care.
To avoid readmissions, hospital administrators must implement a comprehensive approach to post-discharge patient follow-up. The patient’s whole medical history must be known by hospital staff, especially if the patient is a high-risk case. According to research, more than 25% of all readmissions within 30 days of discharge are due to conditions unrelated to the initial stay. Thus hospital administrators must set protocols for staff that involve checking for additional requirements that could lead to re-hospitalization.
Being a Patient Advocate
Nothing is more upsetting to a patient, much alone harmful to her rehabilitation, than learning that her insurance company has refused to cover the expense of their hospital stay. At the same time, a patient’s misperception of his condition may cause him to be terrified of leaving the hospital, resulting in a “custodial” hospital stay that costs the system thousands of dollars in payment.
A hospital manager’s responsibility is to bridge the gap between the insurance provider and the patient and help them reach an agreement. Hospital executives must not only train their floor personnel, but they must also speak directly with patients about the nature of their cases and the actual needs of continued care. They must discover strategies to inform patients about insurance provider coverage decisions that are beneficial to the patient’s health while also advocating on the patient’s behalf with the insurance provider. It’s an uncomfortable position to be in, but how hospital management handles this job as a patient advocate can make all the difference in the world for both the patient’s quality of care and the institution’s bottom line.
The hospital administrator’s principal concern is this. The quality of its patient outcomes will determine a healthcare system’s profitability and success.
Quality medical processes are the foundation for improved results, but that is only the beginning. To be genuinely sustainable, patients must have a clear and attainable health goal, a well-defined plan for achieving that objective, and an easily accessible structure that supports their progress. It is up to hospital administration to put that framework in place, employing employees, technology, and any other resources at their disposal.
Creating a Healthy Culture
Finally, hospital executives must establish a high bar for all hospital employees in corporate culture. Hospital administration must encourage physicians, nurses, and administrators to go above and beyond for a patient’s treatment. Only when the entire staff believes in improving patient health can the healthcare organization succeed financially.
Within every healthcare system, hospital managers are the standard-bearers for patient outcomes. They must be well-versed in both the commercial side of healthcare and the day-to-day clinical operations, and they must consider both views equally when making choices. Visit The George Washington University’s Healthcare MBA Program to learn more about what it takes to become a healthcare administrator.