The Cost of Never-ending Fire Drills

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in The LFT Blog | Comments Off on The Cost of Never-ending Fire Drills

How much of your time do you spend reacting to “fire drills” at work? Not calling the fire department type, but rather the unanticipated occurrence which you have neither the time nor resources to handle.

Fire drills might be figuring out how to cover for someone on your team who called in sick or a surgeon operating on the wrong body part. And everything in between. A surprise budget miss? A harassment complaint? An increase in patient falls on weekend evenings? Not ready for the pending Joint Commission visit?

Layer on top of this all that has been happening with healthcare public policy. How do we adapt incentives and cost structures as we move to the new “at risk” reimbursement that wreaked havoc with hospital financial results in its first year? Will the ACA stay or will it be abolished? ICD10 anyone?

All of these are important and require attention. The problem is that when an organization isn’t strong enough from a people standpoint, the fire drills become standard operating procedure. Great organizations have few fire drills – they are prepared for what’s coming around the corner. In the event that they have missed something, there is enough depth in the team so that the whole organization isn’t being brought to a standstill. Alternatively, organizations with that dearth of talent continue to manage reactively, fighting fire after fire.

Healthcare services is a human capital game. If you have 15 or 20% of your positions vacant or you have managers who are in over their heads, or if it takes you 18 months to fill a leadership position on average, you are going to be challenged to be consistently successful. Quality, organizational culture, work environment, financial stability, etc. are all going to be compromised. This isn’t hard to figure out.

The question then is this – why do hospitals spend so little time thinking about how to improve their overall human capital approach? The average for profit companies spend far more time and resources thinking about recruiting, screening, training, career paths, etc. than the average not-for-profit hospital. And because delivering heart surgery is far more involved than making Cheerios, it seems it should be the other way around.

Consider the following:

  • The corporate world hires human resources people from different industries all the time to tap a broader pool of talent and gain a range of perspectives.Why do hospitals only hire HR people from other hospitals?
  • Given the typically high level of employee turnover, why isn’t building a library of resumes with regular communication back to potential candidates a priority?
  • Why does it take so long to interview people?
  • Can an MHA or MBA run a large service line where patient care is not required?
  • Etc.

The unfamiliar to most of us is scary. That’s what’s happening in healthcare now. Could it be that this is becoming healthcare’s Achilles heel?

We believe we are doing something different and can show you it’s a move in a better direction. We’d love to talk.

Bill Haylon