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Patient Care and Productivity: What Really Matters in The Long Run – A Perspective by Jacob Jacob

16 Jan 2019, by Informa Connect Insights

Healthcare Organisations over the world are grappling with productivity and experimenting with various means by which one can eventually get to the right manning standards. Let us practically look at the healthcare scenario and the various variables that come into play when dealing with patients. Healthcare and care givers who work in the healthcare space need to work with passion and create a difference in the lives of patients who come to the hospital. This is not an industry that runs on management models, what if scenarios and algorithms. The work force in the healthcare industry is varied and with different skill sets.  

Primarily, there are 5 categories of the workforce that you deal with, which comprises of Doctors, Nurses, Allied Healthcare Professionals/Technicians, Support and Management Staff. The make up and pedigree in each of these categories is very different and it is when they come together on a common platform bound by a shared purpose of care that patient care is truly a combination of clinical plus service. 

Should you explore the industry and its composition, there are very many industry bodies that recommend various ratios to the way manning must happen within the hospital. This unfortunately is archaic and does not really consider the physical and mental aspects of the patient and how best should care be provided for. What really constitutes the variables that determine manning or more of care standards for the patient?  

The real important components are the acuity pattern/disease mix, use of technology for treatment, skill set of the care giver (for each category) and the occupancy in the hospital. One must take adequate care in ensuring that the right team of care givers are assigned to the patient. This requires planning and the ability to understand the acuity pattern and related challenges of the patient. Unfortunately, these variables today hardly play any importance in ensuring enhancement of patient experience. Rostering patterns have algorithms built into them today so that it is more of science than an art. Rosters are set in advance based on past data and some sort of predictive analysis which apparently has little bearing or correlation to the actual case mix and disease patterns. 

Hospital operations must be separated from manpower rostering so that we have the right mix of manpower to cater for patient care. Issues of overstaffing, lack of appropriate skill sets etc. are to a large extent mitigated by an independent body that looks at acuity patterns, the relevant skill set to take care the acuity, relevance of technology and then assigns care givers. This pattern of assignment takes into account the need of every patient in the hospital. Issues of unnecessary overtime and regular assignment of duties to a select few individuals are done away with.  Moreover, you can create a culture and rhythm of patient centric needs rather than just the concept of a filled bed. What is key is that the manpower rostering group must be independent of any other support/clinical function and must work independently without any biases and must be a combination of a team of clinical and service. Such actions will only reinforce the fact that hospitals are here today for cure and care. 

In conclusion, such changes can only happen if the philosophy and thinking inside the hospital starts with patient first and everything emanates from this stand point. We need to remember that the patient of today needs innovation in care and that can come about only with the changes that we bring inside the hospital and make caregivers make a difference in the lives of patients who need to be treated as if we were treating our own kith and kin.  

Healthcare models and technology are undergoing changes at a rapid pace with center of excellence being established in various formats and sizes. However, the fundamental principle of good care and personal attention can never ever be replaced by anything else. The human intervention in care and cure will continue to be the most important determinant in making that difference to the life of the patient. 


Jacob Jacob
Group Chief Human Resources Officer
Columbia Asia Healthcare Sdn Bhd  



Jacob-Jacob is one of the speakers’ lineup for the upcoming Healthcare HRConnect, one of the 5 co-located events at the 5th Annual Asia Healthcare Week. 


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