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5 heartbreakers for hospital CFOs

On Valentine’s Day, it’s either joy or heartbreak – and for CFOs of hospitals, it’s no different.

John McCarthy, general manager of asset management at GE Healthcare, consults CFOs nationwide and has witnessed the heartbreak of CFOs. Here, McCarthy outlines the heartbreak he’s seen first hand.

1. “You just don’t love me anymore.”

There are millions of dollars of underutilized assets at hospitals, McCarthy said. Due to workflow issues and no real, data-driven way to know how technology is being used, many hospitals may not know exactly how efficiently clinical assets are being used, and in effect, the millions spent on all that underutilized equipment, are being wasted. To add insult to injury, the lack of knowledge of how technology is being used can lead to heartbreak number two: overcompensation.

2. Overcompensation

According to McCarthy, hospitals are over-purchasing equipment during capital planning. Because hospitals aren’t getting a handle on how clinical assets are being used, when they receive feedback from staff and physicians that there is not enough equipment, for example, executive teams spend the money to buy more and more units. In some cases, McCarthy said, new equipment does not need to be purchased at all.
3. “I’m not being seen for all I do!”

When assets are not being used to their full potential for patient care, revenue is being left on the table, McCarthy said. If a CT scanner can be used more efficiently, more scans can be conducted and more patients can be seen. When productivity issues with clinical assets are not addressed, hospitals miss out on capturing those revenue opportunities. CFOs can start to fix this heartbreaker by taking a close look at hours of use and utilization rates, McCarthy said. If there are two CT scanners being used only half of the time or at odd hours, adjustments can be made to increase their productivity, such as adding more patients from other service lines.

4. “Don’t look elsewhere when the going gets tough.”

Every hospital’s telemetry devices rely on a clinical network to stay up and running. But that network can go down, often due to a lack of preventive maintenance. Recently, McCarthy said, a medical device network went down at a hospital and units had to go on diversion to ensure patients continued receiving appropriate care. The hospital had to rent 150 bedside monitors. After all was said and done, the final bill came to over $150,000. Instead of looking elsewhere to patch the problem, McCarthy said, CFOs should pay attention to what’s happening internally and invest in their IT and biomedical departments’ training to ensure that these costly system failures don’t happen.
5. “Have you been tested?”

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a well-known issue in healthcare – one that all hospitals and healthcare workers are working hard to solve, McCarthy said. However, many hospitals may be surprised to learn that their mobile medical equipment, such as IVs or heart monitors, are not going through the proper sanitization protocols 100 percent of the time. These devices, which move around the hospital all day from patient to patient and nurse to nurse, could be carrying pathogens that spread HAIs. These infections not only put patients and caregivers at risk, but with new penalties for these infections and declining reimbursement, HAIs also could cost hospitals in fines. Ensuring that there is a strong culture of safety and tracking technology to see every piece of technology go through established protocols can go a long way in helping reduce HAIs, McCarthy said. 

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