Productivity is defined generally as the ratio of outputs to inputs. The quest to improve productivity in health care is crucial, but can be challenging. As Ozcan writes, “Determining the proper mix of inputs and outputs will always be one of the most difficult tasks of the health care manager” (p. 231).
Department leaders are often asked to develop productivity measures (e.g., metrics, or ratios) to help monitor and ultimately improve productivity. In selecting the primary productivity measure for a unit or department, a leader must carefully assess its most significant activities. Ideally, every important activity would be incorporated in the productivity measure, but in practice this is rarely feasible. Hours worked/Inpatient days, for example, is a common and helpful productivity measure in nursing units. It does not reflect, however, nursing tasks involving patient discharges, observations, or transfers; one concern is that staff may focus more on those activities being measured, and less on other tasks.
Begin by selecting any type of unit or department in a hospital, outpatient clinic, long-term care facility, or other health care setting. (You may select the same unit you focused on in last week’s Discussion, or choose a new one.) Examples might include pharmacy, perioperative services, emergency department, ICU, neonatal unit, imaging services, laboratory services, food services, housekeeping, or others.
Then prepare for this Discussion by completing these steps:
- Review the productivity measures (ratios) described in this week’s Learning Resources, including Langabeer, pages 128–138, and Ozcan, pages 205–222. Consider if any of these would apply in your selected unit. Reflect, too, on the benefits and challenges of using productivity measures, as discussed in this week’s article and chapters.
- Do further research, as needed, in Walden Library and on the Web to learn more about factors that impact productivity in your selected type of unit. Identify the most important outputs and inputs of this unit.
- Based on these factors, including key inputs and outputs, what would be some good productivity measures to use for this unit? What are the pros and cons of using these measures?