An Operations Manager Makes Healthcare More FluidA NEW MANAGERIAL FIGURE WHO TAKES CARE OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL AND LOGISTICAL PATHS OF PATIENTS WITHIN HEALTHCARE COMPANIES WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT, EXPLAINS ANNA PRENESTINI FROM CERGAS AT BOCCONI
There is a new professional in healthcare who works to minimize waiting times and to impact the efficiency of resources used. The job position is operations manager, the task is to take care of the patient path throughout healthcare.
Operations managers have existed for a long time in the U.S. and in Northern Europe. They were introduced in Italy by the private hospital Humanitas, which initially asked manufacturing engineers to oversee its processes in order to optimize the allocation of beds and operating rooms. More recently, the Lombardy and Tuscany regions have issued guidelines for the establishment of operations management offices in public health, in 2016 and 2018 respectively. In Italy they number about forty now.
“Healthcare processes are complex both because they are addressed to patients and their needs, and because they are highly interrelated”, says Anna Prenestini, researcher at the Bocconi Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management (CERGAS). “The optimization of organizational and logistical procedures improves the work of doctors. They no longer have to address organizational dysfunctions by themselves in order to meet the needs of their patients. Operations managers will become more and more important”.
Whether they be managers, engineers, doctors or nurses, they must possess operations- and lean management-oriented skills. “The strategic management level must back them and be strongly committed to unhinge a system based on the allocation by medical professionals of assets such as beds, outpatient slots, and operating rooms”. The benefits are clear and verifiable. One goal of the introduction of the operational management position is the reduction of the waiting time for surgical procedures. “At the local health agency of Reggio Emilia, where the operations manager position was introduced by order of the Directorate General, wait times for key pathologies such as breast and colon cancer have been dramatically shortened. Now, nearly 100% of health services are provided within the time set out by national and regional resolutions”.
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by Claudio Todesco