Operations management is the overall coordination of processes required for the creation and distribution of products and services. For example, in the case of healthcare, managing costs while delivering quality services is a major component of healthcare operations management.

Key Takeaways

  • Operations management is essential for the provision of health services, a rapidly changing field in the midst of reform.
  • Prominent examples of operations management in healthcare include controlling costs and improving the quality of services provided to patients.
  • The goal of operations managers in healthcare is to streamline costs and to obtain funding to maintain adequate levels and quality of services offered.

Understanding Operations Management in Healthcare

Healthcare is a diverse industry that includes institutions and practitioners that provide services for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of injury, illness, disease, and other physical and mental impairments. There is a wide variety of specialties that focus on specific treatments.

Healthcare is composed of primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Social and economic conditions largely affect access to health care as do the policies and management of services. For a healthcare system to function efficiently, necessary aspects include generous financing, a well-trained and well-paid workforce, credible information on which policies can be structured, and health facilities that are well-maintained and reliably managed.

Healthcare is a vast industry that is undergoing constant reform. Thus, operations management is complex and evolving.

Because the healthcare sector is undergoing persistent reform, the jobs of those who manage healthcare operations are also constantly changing.

Operations Managers and Cost Controls

One of the first areas of focus for operations managers is cost control. The current health-care system overuses expensive, technological, and emergency-based treatment. High costs from care often remain uncompensated due to uninsured patients. A prevalence of services in expensive settings creates a burden on taxpayers, health insurance holders, and health-care institutions themselves.

The goal for operations managers is to strike a balance between necessary high-tech treatment and community centers that offer preventative services. Primary care institutions help to avoid the need for expensive emergency services.

Cost controls affect the levels and quality of services provided to clients. Inefficiently managed costs usurp budgets, limiting the technology and equipment that can be purchased and used to provide necessary services. Operations managers attempt to streamline costs and raise the necessary funding to maintain adequate levels of care and quality of services.

Fast Fact

Operations managers must strike a balance between investing in necessary high-tech treatment and funding community centers that offer preventative services.

Special Considerations for Healthcare Operations Management

Data and digital technology are playing a huge role in healthcare reforms. For example, big data drives decision making. Data analysis can reveal cost-efficient ways to run healthcare facilities based on historic data.

Healthcare organizations must also prepare for emergencies and have plans in place for mass casualty incidents (MCI). Institutions today have management programs and apps to manage hospital facilities in the event of emergencies.