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Nurses Can Help Improve Hospital Spending

Nurses are the eyes, ears, hands and heart of the hospital. With such influence, how funds are used and consumed are also within the power of the nursing staff. Those who have graduated from an RN program can help preserve other nurses’ jobs by being more aware of how their time is spent and how supplies are used.

FierceHealthCare.com editor Karen M. Cheung reports that there are eight ways that nurses can become more frugal to help save their fellow nurses’ jobs. “With a watchful eye on money coming in and out from patients, reimbursements, and donors, more healthcare organizations are closely examining existing internal processes to save their wallets and their employees.

“According to Lean management principles, based on the Toyota Production System, there are eight types of waste often seen at hospitals, according to a column in Hospitals & Health Networks Daily by Mark Graban, president of Constancy Inc., a consulting firm in Keller, Texas.

“’Reducing waste is very different, in mindset and practice, from traditional cost cutting, as Lean waste reduction looks at how the actual work is performed rather than focusing on spreadsheets, budgets and financial benchmarks,’ wrote Graban. ‘Reducing errors, improving throughput, reducing staff frustration–all of these tactics reduce costs.’”

One major waste factor is in the supply area. Over ordering medications, expired products, or mislabeled items cause a huge dent in the budget.

Wasted time is another way funding is being misused “such as staff walking more than needed to find surgical instruments that are grouped together” or “in the emergency room, which can result in poorer patient outcomes. Hospitals are currently addressing this by experimenting with booked appointments for less serious conditions or triaging by telephone.” Processing patient information also falls under this category “such as staff writing or repeating patient information in multiple forms. With meaningful use incentives in place, more hospitals and health systems are looking to integrate systems and avoid duplication with electronic health records,” explains Cheung.

The final category of waste is “Human potential, such as staff members not engaged in improvement activities. Among healthcare executives’ top concerns, alignment in improvement certainly tops the list, but integrating quality into physician culture can help remedy ambivalence in quality and help them reach their so-called human potential.”

There is a certain camaraderie that RN nurses have that is seldom found in other fields. Maybe it’s the compassion factor and on the job stress that binds them together. Regardless, any small changes to help another nurse keep his or her job is well worth the effort.

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