Even with slight increases to the public health budget, NHS staff know how severe the financial pressure is on vital services. They’re in the unenviable position of needing to improve patient care and modernise the NHS without increasing costs.
Sticking to and justifying an existing budget is key. So to make things a little easier, here are a few tips.
- Avoid Short-Term Fixes That Actually Make the Service Worse
- Examine Existing Providers and Avoid Lengthy Contracts
- Find Out Exactly Where Money is Being Wasted
- Consider Possible Sources of Revenue
1. Avoid Short-Term Fixes That Actually Make the Service Worse
Whichever type of healthcare budget you’re working with, avoid quick cost-cutting measures that might ultimately make a patient’s experience worse.
For instance, adding more beds to wards can feel like a simple way of reducing waiting times as more patients are seen to. Fewer people waiting could mean fewer staff are needed.
However, this quick ‘fix’ is simply moving the issue elsewhere. Waiting times might be lower but care, on the whole, would be worse. Staff that are already pushed to their limits would be responsible for even more patients. This isn’t just frustrating for them, it’s potentially dangerous for patients who might have to wait longer to be treated.
A popular cost-cutting measure is to simply turn off lights or remove them altogether. Although it’s true that switching to energy-saving bulbs is more efficient, keeping patients or staff in the dark is archaic.
A hospital can be a stressful place so it’s the responsibility of Trusts to ensure they’re as welcoming and friendly as possible. This is difficult to achieve when huge sections are kept in darkness.
2. Examine Existing Providers and Avoid Lengthy Contracts
Is your hospital paying more than it needs to for certain services? Or are you paying for services that you're not really getting the most out of?
Take a look at existing contracts and determine whether or not you’re getting value for money. Speak to a range of different providers and receive quotes from each of them. You might find that making a switch cuts costs significantly.
Repeat this process regularly to make sure that you’re always getting the best possible deal from third-parties. To manage a healthcare budget effectively, you need to be flexible. This means avoiding any lengthy contracts with providers.
In the past, some Trusts tied themselves into long contracts that ultimately left them paying for an outdated service. They were trapped and unable to find new providers or reduce costs. Hospitals were unable to adopt innovations and cutting-edge technology because of previous commitments. When signing with any external partner, keep the relationship as flexible as possible to avoid this issue.
3. Find Out Exactly Where Money is Being Wasted
When managing any kind of budget, it’s important to identify exactly how money is being spent and where it’s wasted. Different types of budgets in healthcare are no different. Take the time to fully examine where every penny is heading and decide whether or not it’s a good allocation of resources.
Even the most vital of costs, like meals for patients, should be looked at to see if any wastage is taking place. It’s a common but largely hidden problem. Avoidable food waste in the healthcare sector is estimated to be around £230 million each year, that can equate to hundreds of thousands of pounds in a Trust. A basic and ineffective meal ordering system is most often to blame. A basic and ineffective meal ordering system is most often to blame.
Once you’ve determined where money is wasted, you can take action to ensure that a more effective solution is introduced. For this particular example, take a look at the SPARK® Media brochure to see how food waste can be significantly reduced.
4. Consider Possible Sources of Revenue
It’s easy to focus on the outgoings when managing any kind of healthcare budget. Because funds are needed for so many different things, possible sources of revenue are often neglected or overlooked.
With the right tools in place, hospitals can explore new ways of generating income. This money can then be put back into the hospital to ease financial pressures and support improvements to patient care.
Think about your hospital or the last one you visited. Many now have more than just a little shop near reception. Major brands like Costa Coffee, WHSmith and Marks & Spencer now have stores based in hospitals.
Adverts or offers for the shop downstairs benefit all parties and can be a great source of revenue for hospitals. For this to be a reality, patients need to be able to access a working system that allows for bespoke advertising.
To do this well you need to get the messaging to the patients or visitors device as legacy systems are not always equipped to do this. Even at locations where there is a bedside monitor for watching TV, which might be utilised for that purpose, many of them either don’t work or they’re pushed out of sight by nurses who feel like patients who use them are getting a bad deal.
There are modern alternatives available that offer so much more than what’s currently on offer.
Are Legacy Patient Entertainment Systems Doing Enough?
The answer to this question and more information on the differences between legacy systems and SPARK® Media, a modern alternative, are in our free downloadable guide. It outlines exactly what patients are missing out on with current systems and the benefits that patients, visitors, staff and the Trust enjoy once hospitals make the switch.