A recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed that 47% of those surveyed believe the U.S. healthcare system will get worse over the next two years even though 78% rate “the overall quality of the healthcare they receive as good or excellent.”
In the popular mind, cost-cutting is associated with only one thing—less quality. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, to borrow a phrase from a popular management book published 35 years ago, “quality is free.”
That may sound preposterous, but it's not. Management consultant Philip Crosby dedicated his career to proving the success of the adage, and in the process, he changed the way U.S. companies did business.
The concept that quality is free applies to healthcare just as much as it applies to the manufacturing sector. Quite simply, when you focus on the patient and never change your focus, patient satisfaction goes up, employee satisfaction goes up, physician satisfaction goes up, errors go down, rework goes down, efficiency improves and income improves beyond that which you spent on the journey.
Bridgeport Hospital has proof of its success, and has metrics to back up that assertion.
In Washington, a commonly used term is “bending the cost curve,” and Bridgeport did that last year by reducing its cost per unit of service by .5%, from $11,780 in 2011 to $11,714 in 2012. The volume increased 5% year over year and was the highest volume increase in recent history at the hospital.
When you really improve service, the economics will follow. Patient satisfaction at Bridgeport increased 20 percentile points, physician satisfaction increased from the 53rd percentile to the 86th percentile, and employee satisfaction increased from the 75th percentile to the 86th percentile. These three service measures all improved at the same time the hospital “bent the cost curve.”
Of course, Bridgeport is not in the business just to provide service; its mission is the business of improving healthcare. Key clinical measures have improved as costs decreased.