Project management tips for hospital leaders

Constant technological and medical advancement are catapulting the healthcare industry into rapid and continuous change.

When factored with the high number of stakeholders who have different expectations towards the industry (doctors, nurses, patients, insurers, investors etc.), the task of keeping a large hospital network, including internal and external constituents, managed effectively can seem daunting. A healthcare leader needs to take into account the different interests of all represented parties and balance them, while maintaining a high standard and providing the best possible care. Thus, planning is key for the healthcare industry to function and project management methods can provide assistance.

Benefits of project management for the healthcare industry

The healthcare industry can benefit greatly from utilizing project management to plan, schedule and consciously anticipating outcomes. The aim of every hospital is to provide better care for patients in a more efficient way. Project management can help achieve this and increase productivity as well as the quality of the care and processes in a hospital. Many healthcare projects fail because of lack of planning or anticipation of unforeseen events. Implementing PM methods can help increase the success rate of projects by providing tools needed to anticipate and mitigate risks.

Project management methods hospital leaders can I=implement

Project management offers a variety of methods and tools that hospital leaders can implement to increase the quality of the care and optimize processes in a hospital.

Task Management

The tasks in a hospital are varied and limitless. Not every doctor has the same tasks, for example the neurosurgeon has different tasks than a cardiologist and the night nurse from a food service worker. Thus, managing all these different tasks can be quite challenging. However, making use of task management methods can help hospital leaders get ahead of the chaotic possibilities.

While each group of people might have different tasks, some duties depend on one another. For example, before a surgeon can operate, the nurses need to prep the patient for the procedure, then the anesthesiologist has to administer the anesthesia. These dependencies need to be identified in order to complete the procedure successfully and as planned. In project management this is called the critical path, which describes activities that are crucial for the completion of a project. Having identified these 'critical' tasks, you can visualize them in a Gantt chart. This can be done in a spread sheet, but with so many tasks at a hospital, it would be wiser to utilize an application that can automatically visualize your planned tasks and ensure they are on track and completed according to schedule. Another advantage of using an application is that everyone involved has access to it and can easily see what their tasks are.

Time Management

Accurate time estimation is essential for a hospital to run efficiently. With so many people and activities it is important to schedule as accurately as possible to avoid delays. Time is one of the three project constraints and has a direct effect on the other two, scope and cost.

It is important to include buffer times. Particularly in a hospital where emergency patients come in constantly, it is important to leave a buffer between tasks so that your whole schedule won't be thrown off course when unforeseen events happen.

When planning a schedule it is also important to include breaks. Hospital workers have a fulfilling, but also very straining job, which is why recuperation times should be scheduled regularly. The key to good time management is not to work more, but to work more efficiently.

Resource Management

Resources are the 'supplies' a hospital needs to function properly. The resources a hospital needs are varied, ranging from medical equipment, computers and medicine to very mundane things such as papers and pens.

Resource management can help you identify and allocate the necessary resources. Resource management affects many parts of the hospital. As the budget is limited you always need to weigh the importance of one resource or another and decide where resources are needed most urgently. You also need to compare the actual usage with the estimated usage, so as to make future resource estimates more accurate.

Change Management

As mentioned before, the healthcare industry is changing rapidly and continuously. However, people don't always embrace change with open arms. In fact, some are actively opposed to change. The task of hospital leaders is to communicate change so that the team sees its benefits and accepts it.

The first step in managing change is to identify what kind of change you want to achieve (organizational, process, system etc.). Then you need to assess whether that change is necessary, which means whether it offers any additional value. You also need to take into account the impact that change might have on time, cost, scope and risks and who will be affected by it. The human aspect is the most important one in change management because even the best laid out plan and smoothly executed change will fail if the people who are directly affected by this change reject it.

Andreas Tremel serves as CEO and Co-Founder of InLoox, focusing on the company's corporate image as well as external and organizational communications. As one of the founders of InLoox, he has been instrumental in creating our company culture and brings over 15 years of experience in communication, brand management and leadership to InLoox.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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