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Integrating and balancing resources for healthcare professionals

By Mike Diamond and Chris Harding / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
May 31, 2017

Professionals in the healthcare industry work in a high stakes environment that includes extensive training, expensive equipment, and exorbitant budgets. These organizational traits would be challenging enough to the most proficient of leaders. But throw in the fact that you are dealing with people’s lives and you realize that you just can’t afford to get it wrong. So, in the medical industry, what does right look like?

Before we answer this question, we must take pause and cover a couple terms. First, in the Diamond Process, we define resources as people, equipment, and capital. So, let’s take a look at the relevant types of medical resources and their unique challenges before we discuss how to integrate them.

The first resource is people. The types of workers that make up the medical industry are vast but are usually very skilled and well trained. Most practitioners require licenses and certifications, complex degrees and have requirements to maintain their proficiencies. Even those who do not directly interface with patients are engineers or technicians working in specialized labs or with sophisticated equipment. All of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) of each employee need to be managed so the organization has what it needs to perform the task at hand. So, let’s take a minute to talk about KSA management.

Each worker occupies a position in an organization. Leaders in the organization should identify what KSAs are needed for each position to thrive. Once they hire an individual to occupy the position, the first-line supervisor should perform a KSA assessment to determine KSA gaps or overages. Employees can be trained to fill KSA gaps and companies can make use of KSA overages if they keep a list of them and understand who their employees are and what they bring.

The second type of resource we need to discuss is equipment. For the most part, equipment is used as tools to enhance people’s ability to do their job. Just like we manage KSAs for people, we need to manage equipment and make sure we have the right equipment for the right people depending on what we want to accomplish.

Medical equipment reminds me of a lot of materiel we had in the military. Someone has to fund and develop the sophisticated equipment. Then the engineers must prove that it is safe to use. Then organizations have to acquire it and qualify people to use it. So basically, whether you are talking about a helicopter or a MRI machine, you are talking life-cycle management (LCM).

LCM manages equipment over its lifetime. At “birth,” you acquire the right equipment for the right job in the right quantity. As the equipment ages, you continue to train people to use it, as well as to make sure you have the resources to repair it. Ultimately, you will need to replace and start anew.

Equipment can have quite an impact on your other resources in an organization. If the equipment breaks too often it can decrease production and increase cost. For this reason, if you hold onto a piece of equipment too long, it will cost you greatly. Skilled workers will become rare and expensive, and so will piece-parts needed to repair. Not to mention worker frustration and other side effects.

The final resource we need to discuss is the money. Capital investments in the healthcare industry are some of the largest ones out there. The Diamond Process Model doesn’t tell you how to spend your money, but we do advocate having a plan. If you want to increase your business in a new sector, you better have the money to pull it off. Especially in the healthcare industry because you can’t afford to cut people and equipment because you didn’t plan correctly. We are in a high-stakes game, remember? So how do we get a plan and ultimately, integrate our resources correctly? I’m glad you asked.

In leadership, and the Diamond Process, planning starts at the top with key drivers which are mission, vision, goals and objectives. The CEO or strategic leader in the organization needs to conduct strategic planning sessions and release a mission statement that tells everyone why they show up to work each day. Second, this leader needs to put out a vision statement which depicts where they want the organization to be in the future. Finally, the key drivers are set when the leader puts out goals and objectives that get us from the mission to the vision.

Next, the operational or middle-managers of the organization can align themselves to achieve goals and objectives in the strategic plan by identifying the work processes needed to get them there. We do this by examining our particular lines of business (LOB). For example, if your LOB was to provide back care then you would have work processes in that LOB such as perform MRI, perform x-ray, provide physical therapy, etc…

Each LOB has several processes and sub-processes that work together and are dependent upon each other. Each process should have an owner or process leader, who identifies which types of people (KSA), how many of each type of people, and what equipment is needed to perform the process. Leaders should develop process maps and flow charts to identify handoffs between subunits of an organization.

Ultimately, each process directly supports a goal or objective in the strategic plan. So, if the key leader sets a goal or objective to expand, you can plan properly by examining work processes, as well as the types, quantities, and cost of the resources needed. When we ask ourselves, how to we integrate and balance resources in the medical profession? The answer is that we do it through process. Because you are as unique as the rest of us.

Major General Michael J. Diamond, US Army (retired) served a combined 35 years on active duty and in the Reserves. He holds an MBA from University of Alabama-Birmingham, MS in Industrial Management from George Washington University, Master in Strategic Studies from US Army War College and BS in Finance and Accounting. Mike has led over 27,000 military members in combat support operations in the Middle East and led the first force rotation. Additionally, he has served two tours at US Central Command (CENTCOM) as the Deputy Director of Logistics and Director of Coalition Coordination Center. Mike founded Diamond Strategy Group, which provides fixes for organizations and aids in improving skills for leading people and processes and has been a mentor/trainer/coach/facilitator in most of his military and civilian roles. He brings this wealth of experience in military, manufacturing, retail, consulting, IT and many other sectors to help improve performance in organizations.

Mike Diamond and Chris Harding are part of The Diamond Strategy Group. Their new book, The Diamond Process: How to Fix Your Organization and Effectively Lead People, is available on DiamondStrategyGroup.comAmazon and other booksellers. For more information, visit DiamondStrategyGroup.com.

 

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