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Boosting Engagement in Food and Nutrition Services: A Path to Success

Engaging employees in Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is crucial for the overall success and efficiency of hospital operations. High engagement levels lead to improved job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and better patient care. In this blog, I want to share some personal strategies for enhancing engagement within FNS..
 

Retention Starts with Recruitment:

 
Effective recruitment is crucial to retention. The process should begin with sourcing candidates whose values align with the organization's mission, providing realistic job previews, and involving relevant team members in the interview process. Transparent communication about compensation and job expectations during recruitment can prevent surprises and dissatisfaction later. This approach helps in hiring candidates who are likely to stay longer and be more engaged from the start, reducing turnover and enhancing overall retention rates.
 

A successful recruitment strategy should include a true representation of a “day in the life” of the role. This means providing candidates with a clear and honest depiction of what to expect in their daily tasks, work environment, and team interactions. For instance, shadowing opportunities or virtual tours can offer prospective employees a realistic preview of the job.
 

The onboarding process also plays a critical role in retention. A well-structured onboarding program that includes relevant training, regular feedback, and practical support helps new employees integrate smoothly into their roles. Studies show that 16-17% of new hires leave within the first 90 days due to ineffective onboarding​ (Eightfold)​. Therefore, investing time and resources in a comprehensive onboarding program can significantly reduce early turnover.
 

Leadership Development and Support:

 

A strong leadership foundation is essential for a motivated workforce. Effective leaders inspire their teams, fostering a positive work environment. When I first stepped into my role as Food Service Director at a mid-sized hospital in the Midwest, I noticed a high turnover rate and low morale among my staff. By implementing regular leadership training sessions and establishing a mentorship program, I built a supportive environment. This not only improved team cohesion but also significantly reduced turnover rates.
 

Workforce Optimization:
 

Efficient staffing and scheduling are key to minimizing burnout and enhancing job satisfaction. I remember working closely with my Chef at a large hospital. We implemented a more flexible scheduling system that allowed employees to have a better work-life balance. This system included shift swapping, part-time options for those who needed them, and ensuring that peak times had adequate staffing. These changes resulted in a 20% decrease in sick days and a notable improvement in overall staff satisfaction. Additionally, these efforts allowed us to flex staff according to volume demands, keeping productivity metrics in a good place and ensuring that we were neither understaffed nor overstaffed at critical times. Employees reported feeling more in control of their schedules, which greatly boosted their morale.
 

Quality Improvement Initiatives:

 
Continuous quality improvement programs are vital for fostering a culture of excellence. A practical example is the "Healthy Plate Initiative" at our facility, which focused on improving meal quality and presentation. Involving staff in these initiatives gave them a sense of ownership and pride in their work, significantly boosting engagement levels. Employees were encouraged to contribute ideas and participate in taste tests, making them feel integral to the process and success of the initiative.
 

Employee Recognition and Rewards:

 
Recognition plays a critical role in employee motivation. Hospitals that implement robust recognition programs see a marked improvement in staff morale and productivity. For instance, we created a “Spotlight Stories” board where employees could share moments of exceptional service and receive praise from their peers and supervisors. This board became a source of pride and inspiration for the entire team. Regular shout-outs in team meetings and personalized thank-you notes from management also helped foster a positive and appreciative culture.
 

Enhancing Communication Channels:

 
Effective communication is the backbone of a cohesive team. Regular team meetings, feedback sessions, and transparent decision-making processes can significantly improve engagement. At our hospital, introducing a weekly team huddle to discuss challenges and achievements transformed the work environment, fostering a more collaborative and supportive atmosphere. These meetings provided a platform for employees to voice concerns, share ideas, and receive real-time updates from leadership. We also constantly spoke of the hospital mission in huddles and included coworkers in our daily meal rounds, giving them a first-hand experience of why we are there and instilling a sense of purpose.
 

Listening and Communicating with Staff:

 

Listening to and communicating with staff is perhaps the biggest driver of lowering turnover and increasing engagement. By actively listening to employee feedback and making them feel heard, we create a more inclusive and supportive workplace. This practice helps in identifying potential issues early on and addressing them before they escalate, thus maintaining a positive work environment and keeping turnover rates low.
 

Professional Development Opportunities:

 

Offering opportunities for professional development is crucial for employee retention. When employees feel that their career growth is supported, they are more likely to stay with the organization. Providing access to culinary workshops and certification courses has empowered our staff and reduced turnover rates. We also partnered with local culinary schools to offer continued education opportunities, which were highly appreciated by our team.
 

Creating a Positive Work Environment:

 

A positive work environment is essential for employee satisfaction. Implementing wellness programs, providing mental health support, and fostering teamwork can significantly enhance engagement. At our facility, we established a peer support network where employees could seek advice and support from colleagues. This network, along with stress management workshops, led to happier and more productive employees.
 

Adding a Full-Time Social Worker:

 

For larger facilities, adding a full-time social worker dedicated to assisting FNS staff can be a game-changer. This role can help staff with daycare, elder care, transportation, and other life issues that might get in the way of work. Having a dedicated person to help navigate these challenges can significantly reduce stress and improve overall job satisfaction. For instance, one of our employees was struggling with finding reliable daycare. Our social worker stepped in, provided resources, and helped her secure a spot in a reputable facility. This support not only alleviated her stress but also improved her work performance and attendance.
 

Financial Benefits of Employee Engagement:

 

Investing in employee engagement is not only beneficial for staff morale but also for the hospital's bottom line. According to a Gallup study, highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Additionally, the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 200% of their annual salary, depending on their role. By reducing turnover rates through engagement efforts, hospitals can save significant amounts. For instance, reducing the turnover rate by 10% in a hospital with 200 FNS employees, each earning $30,000 annually, can save up to $600,000 in recruitment and training costs​ (OnDeck)​​
(Nectar Recognition)​​ (CareerPlug)​.

 

Conclusion

 

Engaging employees in Food and Nutrition Services is essential for fostering a positive work environment and improving operational efficiency. By focusing on leadership development, workforce optimization, quality improvement initiatives, recognition programs, effective communication, professional development, creating a positive work environment, and adding support roles like a full-time social worker, hospitals can significantly enhance employee engagement. The financial benefits of reduced turnover and increased productivity further underscore the importance of these efforts. Investing in the well-being and engagement of FNS staff is a win-win for both employees and the organization.
 

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The Skyrocketing Cost of Supply Chain Stress

How to stay grounded in the new landscape of healthcare support services
 

Healthcare leaders need to take a new approach to protect the bottom line.

 

Shifting macro trends are transforming the supply chain.

 

Global shortages, transportation delays, and inflationary pricing have tested the resilience of the healthcare supply chain. A change, once thought temporary, continues to be the norm across the healthcare sector.

 

With mergers, layoffs, reduced hiring, and increasingly difficult requirements, supply chain managers are struggling to keep up with the new pace of business. This has led to increased employee turnover, with a record number of supply chain managers leaving their roles I 2021 (Sirtori-Cortina, 2022).
 

“Many systems are stretched. Managing the increasing demands of day-to-day is reducing the ability to carefully monitor supply chain contracts. This affects cost, quality, and ultimately, patient care” said Paula Keller, Principal of Kestgo, a healthcare support services consulting firm based in the Midwest.
 

Keller continued “Many systems are outsourcing more of their support services operations as a response to this strain. While outsourcing offers many benefits, healthcare leaders need to understand the economics of third-party providers and how it affects their total spend.”
 

Hospital supply costs have risen an average of 6.5% each year since 2017.

 

Current economic trends may make the increase even higher in the near term.
 

The economics of third-party supply
 

Health systems, hospitals, and senior living operators often outsource non-clinical activities to third-party providers. This could include support services such as facility management, food service, or laundry.

 

There are benefits to shifting operations, administrators need to understand the economics of outsourcing. These contracts are often high in volume, yet low on profit. This means that your contractor is incentivized to cut costs, substitute, or source more through their own channels to make a contract profitable.

 

From a supply perspective, this may mean sourcing food, cleaning supplies, or specialty service contracts through their own network. The higher the volume purchased, the more money the outsourced provider makes off your contract through cash vendor rebates.

 

The aggregate buying power of a global company may give you preferred pricing or service, but it also reduces the control your hospital has over what is contracted.

 

When reviewing your contracts, leaders should ask critical questions about what items or services are contracted, how vendors are selected, and requirements for safety and regulatory compliance.
 

Providers are incentivized via cash rebates to choose certain vendors and boost their profit margin.
 

Happy workers are 13% more productive, have less accidents, and deliver better patient care.

People are your most valuable assets.

 

People choose to work in healthcare because they want to make a difference. Stability, loyalty, and above- average compensation make it an appealing place to set roots (Kupietzky, 2023).

 

In cost-saving exercises, some healthcare systems choose to transfer their employee’s payroll from the hospital to a third-party provider. The benefits include reduced administrative costs, management oversight, technology, and the opportunity for broader talent recruitment. Employees may benefit from the new arrangement with increased opportunities for mobility and training.

 

While some transfers are successful, healthcare leaders must consider the effect on their people. Employees transferred may see wage or benefits reduced, struggle to adopt new systems, and suffer from a loss of morale due to perceived instability.

 

All these downsides lead to the most important part of working in healthcare: patient safety.

 

Happy workers are 13% more productive, according to an Oxford University study. They also are more attentive to their work environment, cause fewer accidents, and provide higher-quality customer service (Kupietzky, 2023).

 

When assessing whether to outsource employee management for support services, factor in the risks of employee disengagement. If morale is lowered, more accidents occur, and HCAHPS scores drop – the savings are eliminated.
 

Employee morale is reflected in HCAHPS scores as a reflection of service quality. Employees in payroll transition may impact your top-line reimbursement.

 

Requiring price exercises from supply contractors supports price competitiveness.

 

Benchmark costs with frequency

Supply management controls much of a health system’s external spending, approximately 40% of the total cost (Bowen et. Al, 2022). With such a high portion of the budget, leaders must be critical of quality and cost.

 

“Leaders no longer can accept less than when it comes to support services– hospitals must be clean, patient satisfaction high, and operating cost controlled” added Keller.

 

“The supply chain landscape is more complicated than pre-pandemic. To get the best results today, a new playbook is required.”

 

Professional management teams can help healthcare administrators assess their current supply mix while leading objective analysis for improvement. This includes consulting on contractual terms, benchmarking performance, and assessing market rate vs. supplied cost.

 

Adding this level of oversight can help strained supply managers to know where to focus their efforts. There are areas where cost control can be the priority and others where savings on paper could lead to increased expenses in execution.

 

“Support services are too important to be left to chance. There are skilled professionals, such as Kestgo, that can provide transitional support for shifting priorities and help healthcare systems achieve their top and bottom line revenue goals.”
 

40% of the total cost of a health systems external spend is supply. It’s the second highest expense after labor.

 
References
 
Bowen, B., Borja Carol Galceran, Karim, S., & Weinstein, W. (2022, August 23). Optimizing health system supply chain performance. McKinse Company
 
Definitive Healthcare. (2023). Annual changes in hospital medical supply costs. Definitive Healthcare.
 
Kupietzky, J. (2023, June 14). Council Post: The Role Of Employee Satisfaction In The Healthcare Industry. Forbes.
 
Ryan, P. and Lee, T (2023, March 2). What Makes Health Care Workers Stay in Their Jobs? Harvard Business Review.
 
Sirtori-Cortina, D. (2022, May 23). Stressed-Out Supply Chain Managers Are Throwing in the Towel. Bloomberg.com; Bloom

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The 4 Critical Conversations That Every Healthcare Operator Needs To Have With Their Leadership

Hospitals Are The Heart Of Our Communities.

 


They keep us healthy, safe, and connected to each other.

 

Our healthcare systems, hospitals, medical practices and facilities of senior care are facing the challenge of keeping up with the cost of care. Rising prices, inflation, labor shortages, and the post pandemic landscape are affecting not only medical providers, but the hard-working support services staff that keep facilities running and patients fed.

 

Our operators are doing more with less, but still must meet the standards of quality and regulatory compliance. How can support services directors, managers, and supervisors adapt to succeed?

 

They must be proactive on balancing cost, performance, and care.

 

To start, every healthcare operator needs to be comfortable having these four critical conversations with hospital leadership.

 

1. COST

Cost Containment Should Be No Surprise To Any Healthcare Operator.

 

The cost of goods and services are rising with inflation. Supply chain shortages further complicate budget planning and execution.

 

Every operator must understand that it’s not just cost that is a concern for CFOs, it’s a pending drop in revenue. The Healthcare market in the United States is predicted to have a slower than average growth through 2026.

 

Healthcare support service are often seen as a cost center, rather than a cost driver. Support services leaders need to think strategically about how their operations can drive more to the top line while holding the bottom.

 

Find areas to optimize your spend through GPOs, re-look at expenses, and find new ways to bring in revenue — such as implementing more retail, unmanned vending, catering and find ways to repackage services to monetize.

 

When patients and employees advocate for your organization, superior financial outcomes will follow.

 

MOST MEDICAL PROVIDER SEGMENTS WILL GROW LESS THAN 5% CAGR FROM 2021 TO 2026 DUE TO INCREASED COSTS.
McKinsey, 2023

 

2. LABOR

Making staffing schedules work is a top challenge in support services, no matter the facility. It takes a special person who can both execute the tasks and provide services with a smile as they interact with patients, families, and providers in their most stressful moments.

 

All managers should be focused on retaining staff. This means providing a workplace where training and recognition are at the forefront. Create a culture of safety — not just physical, but also psychological so that your people can be their best each day. Offer cross-training to those in different departments so they can cover when unexpected schedule openings occur.

 

WITH THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UNDER 4%, A PEOPLE-FIRST APPROACH IS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO SOLVING LABOR SHORTFALLS.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023
GOOD PEOPLE ARE HARD TO FIND, SO KEEP THE ONES YOU’VE GOT

 

Labor optimization is a must-know for every healthcare operations manager. It’s about evaluating your staffing, spend, who does what, and how to come up with a plan for efficient staffing.

 

“Optimization” is a word that causes many leaders concern. It’s not about reducing people or wages, the core concept of labor optimization is about helping people do their jobs better. Better, faster, smarter, and safer to them, the hospital, and those you serve.

 

It’s your people – not just stats and the bottom line – that make support services successful.

 

3. PRODUCTIVITY

Performance + Quality / Time = Productivity

 

People aren’t widgets and hospitals aren’t factories. The idea of efficiency in people operations can feel counterintuitive in a care environment. We want people to produce, but also to ensure that every meal packed and floor mopped is done with quality and safety in mind.

 

How do you balance productivity metrics with a peoplefirst operation? You focus on working smarter, rather than harder.

 

Time and motion studies can help to understand what effort is going into tasks and what is coming out. Start with the basics of observing and documenting to identify small changes that can improve outcomes. Are your people working efficiently in the kitchen? Is everything in the right spot in the line to increase ergonomics and reduce cross-traffic? Does your environmental services staff clean in a methodical way? How many steps is it to access a utility closet midclean?

 

The right technology can accelerate productivity in your facility. Using tablets or smart phones, integrated software, IoT, robotics and new Ai tools can speed slow, duplicate, or monotonous tasks.

 

Your executives want to know that they are investing in the right places. Show them that support services are efficient and effective by benchmarking your performance to industry-standards. Commit to continuous improvement, one quarter at a time.

 

By utilizing your people the right way, patients are more satisfied and employees are more motivated.

 

4. EXPERIENCE

 

 

A Positive Patient Experience Improves Health Outcomes.

 

Healthcare providers have a duty to their patients and communities to provide a safe environment. Support services are central to keeping the facility maintained and patients provided with nutritious food.

 

The HCAHPS Survey conducted by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been the benchmark for patient satisfaction since 2006. HCAHPS score directly influence hospital reimbursement rates. Those hospitals with better experiences earn exponentially more than those without.

 

Healthcare support services leaders need to re-frame their role within the hospital from being support for the facility, your teams are ambassadors of experience. A patient or family may only vaguely remember a brief interaction with a doctor, but they will remember the quality of the meal they ate or whether building met their expectation.

 

HCAHPS ASKS PATIENTS TO RATE THE CLEANLINESS AND QUIETNESS OF PATIENTS’ ROOMS, OVERALL RATING AND WHETHER THEY WOULD RECOMMEND IT.
Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2021
 

We’ve learned that the best support services, the ones that capitalize on the right opportunities, make the right moves, and continually grow in the right direction, all have one thing in common: they utilize the right people.
 

Founded by three healthcare operations experts, Kestgo provides hospitals, healthcare systems, and senior living providers with guidance on how to structure, lead, and run an efficient, people-first organization.
 

Our firm is committed to finding new ways to support your culture while enabling the financial outcomes you seek. We work cross-functionally to optimize performance and improve both the patient and employee experience. We help you shape your food & nutrition, environmental services, facility management, laundry & linen, and security operations.
 
Change is hard. That’s why, we lend a hand to providers seeking interim leadership, employee training, RFP development, and workforce optimization.
 
You can be confident that your best interests are in our hearts as we maintain a provider agnostic view — helping you maintain independent operations or vetting new suppliers.
 
Whatever you need, Kestgo is ready to serve.

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Consulting Leads to Career Mentoring Relationships

Looking back at my career in Support Services, I had the opportunity over the last 35 years to mentor interns and new faces starting out in our business. Eyes wide open! What’s different now? With over 25 years in healthcare support services business, primarily inday-to-dayoperations, I moved on to a consulting role. Something extremely rewarding that I never expected. Being a consultant, I have developed many new mentoring relationships, quite the opposite of what you would expect.Knowing that the consulting business comes with its baggage and litany of jokes. Who knew, that, if doing it the right way, consulting and mentoring are symbiotic? That was and still is my “ah ha moment.”

 

Being a consultant is clearly defined by your past experiences, knowledge, ability to communicate, teach, guide, and advocate.

Is it really?Both financial and quality deficits are reasons for a consultant to be involved in your daily life.It could be in the form of a global consulting firm, specializing in righting the ship, ensuring a strong financial future. Or, it could be a specialized firm, knowing the detail and intricacies of your work and purpose. I fortunately, have the opportunity to work in both environments.

How many times has a consultant met with you, handed you a piece of paper, stating these are your new targets? That was it.

  • No explanation, no map, no blueprint.
  • You do your best, paddling upstream, dealing with the waves and rocks.
  • You may reach your goal, but was it by design? Or did you reach your goal, sacrificing core values, strengths, and innovations you had put in place?

 

When the consultant can get their clients to see their engagement as a mentoring relationship – success is eminent.

The key to any effective mentoring is connection.

  • Taking the time to discover common ground and what the other person’s needs really are.
  • Then being available to see them succeed.
  • When customers really sense you are more concerned fortheir well-being and successthan just making a buck—you become seen as a valued asset – consultant – Mentor!
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Support Services: The Tipping Point in a Hospital’s Culture of Hospitality

Every role in the delivery of care has a mission – from those who help our patients heal, to those who feed and nourish them or keep our facilities safe and free from infection.

 

Of all the ways we serve, it’s easy to overlook the vital role support services has in the delivery of care, and how it can truly be a tipping point in creating and maintaining a culture of hospitality.

 

When we talk about excellence in hospitality, companies such as Chick-fil-A or Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts can come to mind. These are organizations that have built a reputation for delivering high-quality support services and customer service time and time again.

 

In healthcare, we are dealing with a range of people who depend on us. That includes patients, their families, hospital visitors, and of course our fellow employees – nurses, doctors and clinicians. All of these interactions are crucial in fostering an atmosphere of hospitality.

 

A patient can be “touched” by 25 different people during their stay at our facilities, meaning they will have dozens of points of contact from admission, to surgery, to post-operative care, discharge and follow up.

 

It goes without saying that we should all be providing the highest level of hospitality to the patients we are privileged to serve.

 

But when we talk about the important role of support services, we also includeeveryone else around us within the facility. Our co-workers who interact with our guests, the doctors and nurses who -- day in and day out -- provide care for vulnerable patients.

 

All of these important caregivers contribute to a culture of hospitality. That’s why it’s imperative that, as support services professionals,we are engaged, educated and ready to go. Everyday we need to be positive and supportive and level up those around us whom we interact with.

 

Our associates need to be secure that if they go the extra mile, and take time away from their duties to help a patient in need to make sure they are cared for, they won’t have a fear of reprimand.

 

It’s all about the interactions we share – saying those important phrases like please, thank you and my pleasure – and the actions we take that keep a culture of hospitality alive. Helping a lost patient find their destination or comforting someone who might seem distraught.

 

A hospital is like a little city, where we’re all serving the patients, but also interacting with each other. That’s where our culture is so important: How do we treat the physician’s in the doctor’s lounge? How do we treat the EVS worker in the patient room? Through respect and mutual dignity,a positive culture is truly manifested.

 

When a culture of hospitality is present, it’s easily noticeable to visitors and staff alike. The culture is shining. It’s like going on vacation and staying at a Four Seasons; the vibe is there. You can truly feel the difference inside a hospitable organization.

 

In a hospital, you can feel the difference just walking down the hall, when employees are engaged and keep hospitality top of mind. Whether a coworker or a guest, employees follow the 10-second rule;they get close and say “good morning” and make eye contact.

 

Hospitality is based on simple things, but when you start adding them all up, it creates and maintains that positive culture.

 

It starts with modeling this behavior in your hospital or health system. If the CEO walks down the hallway and doesn’t acknowledge other associates, only saying “hello” to the doctors but not to the EVS worker, that’s an issue.

 

You have to not only provide education and training for your staff, but as a leader, you must also “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”

 

When you have leadership who truly does this and puts it into action, it becomes infectious across the entire organization. Encourageparticipation through incentive programs – awards, recognitions or prizes – that will instill a desire for staff to employ and maintain a high level of hospitality.

 

When you’ve made a culture of hospitality a priority in your facilities, it will be a differentiator for your organization. Your hospital will be known as the “nice hospital” in the community. Patients will tell their family and friends about their welcoming experience and word will spread.

 

And it’s important that this culture of hospitality be implemented across all points of access for visitors and employees equally.

 

One of the most crucial points of access is your Emergency Department. Many organizations call the ED your “front door.” It’s a revolving door of patients, visitors and relatives who are at their most emotionally and physically vulnerable. Organizations need those hospitable and empathetic associates in these ED roles, lending a sympathetic ear during long wait times, catering to patient’s needs and providing support.

 

As someone who has worked across multiple health systems in a variety of support services and leadership roles, I’ve seen this work firsthand. In nearly 30 years, I have served as a dietician and a chef, a department director and regional leader. When hospitality is kept top of mind in an organization, all caregivers shine.

 

A happy nurse means a happy patient. A happy EVS worker means a cleaner room. A happy cook means better meals and a welcoming cafeteria.

 

Any worker, if they come to work and feel secure in a positive environment, will naturally be more hospitable, which in turn boosts patient satisfaction.

 

When patient satisfaction goes up, care goes up, which increases productivity, profitability and reimbursements. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

 

With a culture of hospitality in place, as the water rises, so does the boat.

 

Support services, if done right, will become engrained in the DNA of the hospital and, in turn, have a positive effect on every interaction within the organization.

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Don’t Break the Piggy Bank: Maximize Savings Opportunities through GPOs

In today’s highly competitive healthcare landscape, hospitals and health systems are understandably looking for any opportunity to lower costs.

 

Group Purchasing Organizations are one of many tools health systems can utilize to lower procurement costs and overall expenses.

 

The entities received a boost in 1986 with an endorsement from the U.S. Congress, recognizing GPOs as a powerful resource to create competition and lower costs in the medical supply market.

 

In the decades since, GPOs have become big business in the healthcare industry with more than 70 percent of medical supplies being procured through their contracts, creatinglarge savings opportunities for hospitals and health systems.

 

A 2018 cost savings analysis prepared for the Healthcare Supply Chain Association found GPOs save the healthcare industry an estimated $34.1 billion each year, a majority seen in hospitals and senior care facilities.

 

The study found a large portion of annual savings related to supplies with GPOs cutting costs for supply purchasing by as much as 13 percent or more.

 

Those savings can up add quickly when one considers supply costs make up about 15 percent of hospital expenses on average, according to a 2019 hospital supply study, while some surgery-intensive hospitals can spend as much 30 or 40 percent on supplies.

 

Utilizing a GPO can help reduce costs on many of the supplies and services imperative to running a hospital or healthcare facility. These can include food supplies such as meats, dairy, vegetables and fruits; janitorial supplies, paper goods and disposable items. Additionally, GPOs may offerdiscounted rates forvalue-added operating services such as travel, rental, equipment repair, temp labor, and a range of medical supplies for patient care through their own internal supplier partnerships.

 

That is why it is important to have a deep understanding of the relationship with your organization’s GPO and the savings you are either receiving or potentially missing out on.

 

As a healthcare consultant,I have worked with many hospitals and organizations throughout many yearsto find the best GPO partners and contracts to meet their needs. One of the first questions I ask my clients is “When was the last time you looked at your GPO and their pricing?”

 

It’s a good rule of thumb to review your GPO agreements every three to five years to re-evaluate what the company is doing for your organization. It is imperative that your GPO is offering a flexible program that is tailored to meets organization’s goals.

 

Consider the overall value you are receiving: Your organization might pay a fee to be a member of that GPO, but is the value appropriatein comparison to the costs you are paying? Couldyour hospital be missing out on valuable incentivesor rebates?

 

For those healthcare systems which serve as regional leaders, operating several facilities in different markets, there may be opportunities to act as your own GPO and leverage economies of scale to lower purchasing costs across the board.

 

At the KESTGO Group, our expert teams can visit with an organization, evaluate the existing GPO relationships in place and look for opportunities for cost-savings on supportive services. We can tailor a program to best suit your organization’s purchasing needs and financial goals.

 

It is our expertise which helps clients determine if they are getting what they were promised by their GPO partners. We recommend healthcare organizations take a deeper look at what they are getting from their GPOs and KESTGO is here to help ease that process.

 

Equally as important as procuring competitive pricing on supplies is maximizing operational efficiencies on those goods once they come through the door.

 

A GPO can help you find the best prices on chicken or produce, but it’s crucial to have the tested production guidance to make sure you are optimizing every dollar from those products in your hospital. It’s not only vital to get a great price on food, but it’s just as imperative to make sure you aren’t wasting it in the kitchen.

 

KESTGO’s consultants can help guide healthcare organizations by sharing expertise and resources to help maximize operational efficiencies and ensure the best value for procurement of goods and services throughout your facilities.

 

As the marketplace constantly evolves,there are always new opportunities for cost savings on the horizon.

 

In the last several years, we have seen new trends in the GPO landscape as organizations pull away from national entities,creating agreements among a smaller number of hospitals to commit a high percentage (as much as 85 percent) of purchases through regional GPOs, which are able to obtain lower prices than their national counterparts.

 

Additionally, arecent study by the Supply Chain Association found that overall hospitals saw as much as 17 percent savings through utilizing GPO contracts across three major supply categories: Medical-surgical, pharmaceuticals and laboratory.

 

While the percentage of hospitals with compliance levels of 60 percent or more was highest for commodity items (89.1%) and pharmaceuticals (84.9%), but much lower for PPIs (32.4%) and capital equipment (19.9%), representing an opportunity for potential future savings, according to the study.

 

By creating a GPO partnership that best suits a healthcare system’s needs, or even taking the path of creating a regional GPO or partnering with other organizations, there exist many pathways to reduce overall costs to the benefit of your bottom line.

 

From procurement to production and distribution, our expert team can help you navigate complicated contracts and partnerships to find the best GPO program,one tailor-made to maximize cost-saving opportunities for your organization.

 

We will help you decide which contractor is best for your supply needs and develop an individual program to maximize your operational efficiencies so you can focus on what matters most – providing high-quality care to the communities you serve.

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On The Road And Testing Positive: My Experience With Covid-19

It began with a scratchy throat.

I had just come back from a weekend hike through the mountains, and the hillside’s flowers were in full bloom. It must have been allergies, I thought. On Monday, I went to work at the hospital in Washington State where I have been serving as a health care leader the past several months.

 

As a health care leader with KESTGO, I often serve as an interim administrative leader in hospitals far from home, away from my family. During these long stays, the hospital staff become my family. Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have implemented the proper safety protocols, including 100 percent mask compliance, routine hand washing and social distancing.

 

At our Monday morning safety huddle, our employee health nurse noted that my voice sounded raspy. I told her I had just returned from a weekend trip outdoors. “Even so, you should probably go get tested just to be sure,” she said.

 

I was shocked when the results came back positive – COVID-19.

 

How was this even possible? The only places I visit are the hospital, home, and the grocery store. But the reality of such an infectious disease is that contagion can happen almost anywhere. It can occur from something as simple as touching an infected box of food on the shelf at a grocery store, and then touching your face or eyes for only a moment.

 

After the diagnosis, I began to worry. What would happen next?

 

A family member had come down with COVID-19 at the beginning of the outbreak and was in very poor health for several weeks. Would my reaction be the same?

 

Far from home, away from my family and my support system, I now had to quarantine for at least 10 days alone. Thankfully, I was lucky. My symptoms were mild. I never experienced a fever or breathing problems. Just a scratchy throat, congestion, and a few night sweats.

 

I was grateful that my hospital family came to my aid. Nurses and Doctors brought me enough food to last me through quarantine. I was able to join in on our calls when I could and continue serving our patients and team.  I was one of the lucky ones.

 

But the sad reality is that many of our patients and colleagues are not so fortunate.

 

The virus continues to sweep across the country with no end in sight. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 4.6 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 157,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.

 

Those who suffer the worst symptoms often face the virus on their own, in quarantine, unable to communicate with loved ones except through a smartphone.

 

They say that as a health care provider, you never really know what your patients are going through until you’ve been in their shoes.

 

After contracting COVID-19 myself, this experience has completely opened my eyes to what is important - focusing your energy on the right things, and the right priorities.

 

The experience has shed light on the importance of mental health for patients and health care providers grappling with COVID-19.

The American Psychiatric Association reports more than half of workers are concerned about discussing mental health issues in the workplace; while more than a third worry about consequences if they seek help. But if we as health care providers are going to care for the most vulnerable in our community, we need to be able to support each other.

To be successful caregivers in the age of the coronavirus pandemic we must have more empathy for each other, and our patients. We need to truly understand what they are going through physically and especially, mentally. Keeping patients connected with their loved ones and their support system through voice calls or video conferencing can elevate their spirits and make their healing journey a success.

As a healthcare leader, anytime you see it from a patient’s eyes you’re always going to have better outcomes. It’s more important than ever to embrace the human element of providing care.

After nearly two weeks in quarantine it is the one thing that enabled me to get through this experience the most. I’m grateful to my health care family for being there and helping me through COVID-19.

KESTGO leaders have unique insight and perspective on the importance of the people who make support services work and what it takes to enable their success. KESTGO approaches you, your organization and your people with the time and attention – and expertise – you deserve.

For more information, visit kestgo.com

The CDC reports several tips for health care providers who maintain their mental health while working on the frontline of the pandemic:

  • Communicate about job stress.
  • Identify factors that cause stress.
  • Ask about access to mental health resources.
  • Remind yourself that everyone is in uncertain times.
  • Recognize you are performing a crucial role in fighting this pandemic.
  • Keep a consistent daily routine when possible.
  • Try to get adequate sleep.
  • Make time to eat healthy meals.
  • Get exercise when you can. Spend time outdoors.
  • Take breaks from news stories, including social media.
  • Engage in breathing exercises or meditation.

 

Mental Health America has also compiled a list of useful mental health resources for COVID-19 patients, families and health care workers. Read more here.