Big Opportunities to Reduce Costs and Increase Efficiency in Healthcare Operations

healthcare team working at table

In order for patients get the care they need when they need it, modern healthcare requires a modern approach to healthcare operations, the systems and processes that make healthcare organizations run. Without healthcare operations improvements, today’s health systems will be unable to survive the economic, competitive and regulatory pressures, let alone thrive to provide the care their communities rely on. According to a 2022 Kaufman Hall report, hospital margins declined 102% from pre-pandemic levels during the first half of 2022, and 53% of hospitals are projected to have negative margins in 2023. Decreasing margins aren’t the only cause for concern—two out of three hospital leaders reported that their facilities have been running at less than full capacity due to staff shortages.

To cope with these unprecedented challenges, health systems must learn to do more with less, and consolidation and efficiency are the name of the game. It’s no wonder that 41% of health system chief information officers (CIOs), or 132 decision-makers at top U.S. health systems, in the recent symplr Compass Survey of CHIME members cited financial pressure as the top threat their organization would face in 2023.

Streamlining and consolidating healthcare operations solutions offers a significant opportunity for cost and efficiency savings. To prevent overburdening an already exhausted workforce, health systems must seek solutions that increase workforce efficiency and integrate smoothly into existing operational structures.

Streamlining and Consolidating Solutions

Data from the 2022 symplr Compass survey show that the majority of top health systems have an excess of disparate point solutions and systems for healthcare operations, and this is adversely affecting their technology return on investment (ROI) and burdening their clinical and administrative staff.

  • Nearly 60% of respondents use more than 50 unique software solutions to manage healthcare operations functions, including workforce management, provider data management, contract and spend for supply chain, facility access, quality, safety and compliance. 
  • Included are 35% of respondents who use 51-150 solutions and over 24% who use 151-500 solutions.

Not only does this excess of solutions lead to higher costs and less time for staff to spend with patients, but it also fuels healthcare worker burnout—a significant issue that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate.

  • 88% of CIO respondents agree with the statement, “working with these disparate IT systems and applications complicates my job.”  
  • 84% of respondents say having a streamlined information technology (IT) infrastructure is an important factor in their ability to retain clinicians.

Consolidating and integrating business-critical software and systems reduces the number of vendors healthcare CIOs manage, and ensures operational efficiency, consistency, revenue optimization and security. These outcomes are critical for health systems to thrive, with survey respondents naming improving interoperability (26%), enabling the clinician workforce (24%), and ensuring privacy and security (21%) as top priorities in 2023.

The Cost of Inaction

In the current climate of decreasing hospital margins and widespread healthcare worker shortages, there is no time for complacency or inaction. Healthcare organizations that delay consolidating tech stacks and optimizing healthcare operations will continue to hemorrhage money and lose staff due to operational and workforce inefficiencies. Failing to consolidate also puts organizations at risk of costly penalties and compliance violations.

Fortunately, there are steps health systems can take now to avoid these negative downstream effects and operate more efficiently. ​By investing in solutions proven to increase ROI and workforce efficiency and reduce risk of penalties and fines, health systems can create operational excellence across the enterprise, from workforce management and provider data management to supply chain, contract and compliance management.

With the right solutions in hand, health systems can refocus the emphasis on what matters most—providing high-quality patient care.