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Tip of the week, part three: Increase efficiency and cut costs

Managed Care Weekly Advisor, September 12, 2007

Don't make the mistake of settling for the status quo and neglecting efforts to look for ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. Consider these tips that could involve small corrections or adjustments in the way you do business and have a significant impact on your bottom line.

  1. Foster good-natured competition among your physicians: If you have some surgeons and anesthesia providers who simply don't want to use more economical options, consider posting Dr. X's average cost per case versus Dr. Y's. If you can illustrate to surgeons through a cost-per-case analysis that their costs are out of line with their peers, in the same field or practice, peer pressure could influence these surgeons to switch to less-expensive implants.

  2. Develop an ongoing to-do list for the staff: This kind of list gives staff members direction for downtime and eliminates questions about whether they've already completed a task. The team member who completes the task initials the box next to the listed action item.

  3. Track open-but-not-used items: To try to eliminate this kind of waste, track the number of items that are returned to stock after a case is used versus items that are opened but not used. Your team members might actually enjoy competing for bragging rights for who saves the most.

  4. Make cost-containment contribution part of every staff member's performance appraisal: In addition to criteria for job performance evaluation, measure each employee according to his or her participation in expense efficiency and quality improvement.

  5. Develop incentive programs for the staff. For centers whose staff members show profits above breakeven level, develop incentive programs that encourage general cost savings and welcome volume that leverages fixed costs. You could grant bonuses of even a couple hundred dollars a month. If employees are meeting the goals, this frees up money for the bonuses.