Project management is a vital aspect of all organisations, regardless of which industry you work in. The healthcare industry is no exception, particularly in hospitals. Having good project managers can allow healthcare organisations to control costs, manage risk and improve project outcomes.
Having the right project management skills can also allow healthcare organisations to improve the patients’ experience of care, reduce costs and allow better access for general population.
What exactly do healthcare project managers do?
A project manager working for a hospital organisation may have responsibilities including:
- Scheduling and planning departments’ work
- Managing an addition to a hospital (i.e. new building, extensions etc)
- Securing medical supplies from vendors
- Planning an increase in emergency response rates
- Budgeting costs
- Communicate with different departments and stakeholders
- Strategic consulting from the early concept stages to the construction and project delivery
- Securing funding and establishing the appropriate financial model fit for the organisation
- Efficient allocation of finance across areas of the hospitals such as wards, operating theatres, public areas etc
- Ensuring that the architectural and engineering designs are aligned to the budgetary and functional goals of the project
- Implementing the latest hygiene standards to control and prevent the spread of infection
What are the challenges involved with project management in hospitals?
Having recognised that project management is highly beneficial for hospitals, it is also important to understand the underlying unique challenges/risks in a healthcare organisation.
- High Stakes: Different to other industries, healthcare workers are dealing directly with patients, meaning that their wellbeing and/or private data is at risk.
For instance, as workplaces become more digitalised, hospitals may find the switch from paper to electronic records necessary. High stakes are involved in this as it deals with confidential information about the hospital’s patients, meaning that the organisation may be at risk of litigation if found to mishandle any data. This is where project management is vital to prevent any exposure of private data and reduce the risk of legal issues.
- Rising Costs: With a continuous increase in demand for healthcare, particularly in the US, there is an increased pressure to deliver cost efficient and high quality services, whilst also balancing the rising costs. Currently, the US has the highest costs of healthcare with an estimated consumption of $3.6 trillion in 2018, and is projected to increase to $6.2 trillion by 2028 (Peter G. Peterson Foundation). Project managers can provide vital contributions to the healthcare industry by improving health outcomes for people who continue to pay more for healthcare services.
- Heavy Regulation: Project managers in healthcare industries will find that hospitals are subject to relatively heavy regulation, such as privacy laws designed to protect sensitive information of patients.
- Constantly Changing Industry: In the healthcare industry, technology and AI mainly serves to complement the skills of practitioners, not replace them. With an increasing demand for healthcare but a shortage of professionals, it is necessary for effective project management to reduce any negative impacts on productivity.
- High Litigation Risk: As healthcare workers deal with people, there is bound to be a plethora of risks associated with the handling and treatment of patients. This is where project management will come in handy to reduce and eliminate these risks.
- Diverse Stakeholders: Hospitals often deal with boards, providers, patiens, government bodies and more. As stakeholder management is a vital aspect of project management, this is necessary to effectively run and manage a hospital organisation.
A.I for healthcare project management?
The AI agent and the implementation team will analyse whether the selected service will meet the internal demands and goals of the organisation, and develop a minimally standardised operating procedure manual. This manual outlines the basic elements of the solution that will develop the final solution with precision, and is updated on a regular basis to use as a guideline for success across the organisation.
The research paper highlighted an example of when the AI Playbook was used to implement a solution for Eskenazi Health (public healthcare system in Indiana) to reduce the vulnerability of ICU survivors through developing a critical care recovery centre. The 8 steps of the AI Playbook were used to devise a solution and recognised the appropriate indicators for success: improved physical and cognitive symptoms in patients, reduced inappropriate post-ICU health encounters and lower cost. The adaptation of the solution showed significant results in improvement in the health of patients and utilisation of health care, with the critical care recovery centre continuously operating. The service was further adapted for home-based ICU survivors and trauma survivors, through the development of a minimally standardised operating procedure.
As the healthcare system involves a wide variety of stakeholders and is immensely complex, there is a need for large and diverse project management teams with individuals who have different views and flexibility. With expected healthcare costs and expenditure to double in the next few years in the US, project management will become increasingly valuable to organisations like hospitals, to ensure that there is an efficient use of resources and finances to effectively treat patients.