Capt Hiram J. Ortiz, USAF, MSC
Healthcare organizations continue to be impacted by resource constraints while patient demand and care standards move in the opposite direction. With increasing healthcare costs, we still have to find ways to deliver the optimal products and services to our customers. That is obviously much easier said than done. How best do we do that? In the media we tend to hear about the negative results of budget reductions and increased operating costs, but with proper management of allocated resources, healthy organizations bounce back with equally effective plans. Innovation and continuous process improvement, made possible through education, must be a staple in all facets of our organizations and they must be driven into our cultures at all levels. Vice president and co-head of LEK Consulting's global MedTech practice stated the following in response to modifications in their product lines, “While it's well documented that the healthcare industry has been cutting costs, LEK's new research uncovered innovative strategies that begin to differentiate hospitals in select areas while simultaneously bracing to support the projected increase in admissions caused by new federal legislation.”  Reductions in organizational resources have been a continuous driver in the discovery of new and leaner processes. Finding ways to operate in leaner environments will be critical to our continued success. Industry leaders will find ways to merge their systems with other organizations and become much more interoperable, thus diminishing repetitive processes within markets. If done correctly, interoperability within healthcare organizations has the potential to be a significant source in the reduction of patient administrative errors and potential increases in reimbursements. The technologies are out there that are intended to standardize processes at a macro level, it’s the right people that we need to be able to connect our healthcare industry.
Education provides us the ability to identify those value-added items that we must retain while also identifying those we must eliminate. It also enables our organizations to become resilient, better positioned to deal with today’s challenges and anticipate tomorrow’s unknowns. Considering that not all product lines are equal, in the face of shrinking budgets, the most important areas have the potential to become focus areas and our Centers of Excellence. Those individuals who bring value added capabilities to the organization will rise to the challenge and will be pivotal to our mission. The value of education within our organizations enable leaders the ability to make the necessary changes, both through workload shifts and idea generation at all levels, when modifications become necessary. Education can be defined in many ways. I define it as the pursuit of information, in any form, which aids in the growth and development of one’s level of knowledge. By truly keeping abreast on current topics, that are laid upon foundations of historical examples, individuals will be better suited to anticipate and adjust to industry fluctuations.
Continuing education assists employees with understanding current processes and aids with their future implementation. Ever consider the manner in which we process information and how quickly that has changed over the years. With the advent of new technologies, the manner in which we solely look at information changes and the amount of data we can now process has drastically multiplied. Only a small minority of individuals actually develop these technologies, it’s the majority of us that actually use them on a day to day basis. In order to just maintain the status quo, we need to understand what these technological standards are in our industry while really understanding where our organizations stand with the use of them. Technological innovations are occurring in all sectors of the healthcare industry and in order to keep up, the pursuit of continued education will be vital. How best do we prioritize which new technologies we want to invest in? How do we strategically prioritize and plan for the future?
As we continue to prioritize every part of our organizations, it’s imperative that education be an area that we, as leaders, continue to drive enterprise wide. We will continue to attract and retain those looking for a challenge and replace those that may be better suited elsewhere. Investing in a lifelong culture of continued education should rank at or near the top of where put our capital. We must recruit and promote those who choose to make continuing education a priority if we wish to have our organizations excel in today’s competitive environment. We must retain those that can understand where both the industry and market are at while being able to map out where they want to take the organization. Verbalizing the importance of continuing education doesn’t necessarily justify its importance but investing in your employees will indeed pay dividends. A recent study concluded that the following are the top benefits of organizational investment into continuing education; increased ability to take advantage of innovation, increased rate of employee retention, reduced rate of employee absenteeism, increased quality of work or service and increased productivity. In order to secure our rightful spot in tomorrow’s healthcare industry, continued education must be a priority for all within our organizations.
1. Despite Shrinking Budgets, Hospitals Maintain Infection Control Funding - http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-2/NRS-249123/Despite-Shrinking-Budgets-Hospitals-Maintain-Infection-Control-Funding
2. How employers benefit from continuing education - http://www.closingamericasjobgap.com/how-employers-benefit-from-continuing-education/