The healthcare industry is faced with many challenges all over the world. They include healthcare expenditure, rising demand for healthcare services, and budgetary shortfalls among others. All these challenges ultimately affect the quality of healthcare provided as well as the productivity of healthcare employees. Therefore, in order to enhance quality and productivity in the healthcare industry, these challenges need to be overcome. One sure way of overcoming them is through the improvement of management practices. What this means is that the difficult challenges that face the healthcare industry can be addressed by instilling better managerial practices in healthcare management. Managerial practices impact healthcare management in a number of ways which include supervisory relationships, process improvement, employee well-being, monitoring and target setting, and their relation with improved performance in terms of quality and productivity.
Importance of Managerial Practices in Healthcare Management
First, supervisory relationships are extremely important to any healthcare manager. Managers need to be able to encourage their employees to be constructive and take the next step. According to Hanna (2010), managers have to turn their employees into problem solvers. For example, when employees apply error-reporting systems, this can greatly enhance patient safety. Such kind of a supervisory relationship enables process improvement through process involvement. According to Adler-Milstein (2011), ideas for process improvement are usually from frontline employees who voice their concerns and then take charge in resolving them. Error-reporting enables managers to acquire information that they can use in improving healthcare delivery. Therefore, by managers increasing the reporting systems’ value, patient safety can be greatly enhanced.
Grant et al (2007) observe that increasing employee well-being improves performance. When managers make employees healthier and happier, this enhances their contributions, efforts and productivity. Therefore, healthcare managers need to adopt managerial practices that increase the well-being of their employees. This includes practices such as enriching tasks, increasing rewards, improving relationships through team-building practices, and enhancing health through safety measures. For example, Grant et al (2007) observe that enriching jobs creates feelings of responsibility and meaningfulness, and consequently challenge them to stretch their skills and perform more. Third, healthcare managers need to set targets and keep track of the outcomes. This means that they must be able to set the right targets and ensure that the organization remains on track to achieve the intended outcomes. This is achieved by monitoring. Healthcare managers need to be able to monitor or track the steps of both patients and employees so as to be aware of the level of satisfaction (Walshe & Rundall, 2001). Information acquired from monitoring should be used for continuous improvement. As such, these managerial practices are critical in improving quality and productivity in the healthcare industry.
It is quite true that better managerial practices improve the quality of healthcare delivery and the productivity of healthcare workers. This is because these practices encourage motivation and participation for the employees, an aspect that is crucial for performance improvement. However, at times practices such as employee well-being can create tradeoffs among various dimensions of well-being. According to Grant et al (2007), a certain aspect of employee well-being might improve performance while another aspect might reduce performance. For example, while job rotation can make work more enjoyable and interesting, it can lead to strain and stress since it might place higher demands on workers. Therefore, managers should be able to mitigate such tradeoffs as they seek to improve employee performance.
Healthcare managers need to adopt managerial practices that enhance the quality of healthcare provided and improve the productivity of healthcare employees. Such practices include sound supervisory relationships that turn employees into problem solvers, employee well-being, process improvement, target setting and monitoring. Managers need to be aware of how each of these practices is applicable to healthcare management and use them to improve performance. At the same time, managers should be able to mitigate any form of tradeoffs that might arise from some practices such as the improvement of employee well-being. Further studies should focus on how these managerial practices impact the specific healthcare management areas such as clinical and financial performance.
Adler-Milstein, J., Singer, S.J. & Toffel, M.W. (2011) Managerial Practices that Promote Voice and Taking Charge Among Frontline Workers. Harvard Business School Working Paper 11-005, September 2011, pp. 1-43.
Grant, A.M., Christianson, M.K. & Price, R.H. (2007) Managerial Practices and Employee Well- Being Tradeoffs. Academy of Management Journal, 2007; 29(2): 51-63.
Hanna, J. (2010, August 30) Turning Employees into Problem Solvers. Harvard Business School, 2010. Retrieved from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6279.html
Walshe, K.W. & Rundall, T.G. (2001) Evidence-Based Management: From Theory to Practice in Healthcare. The Milbank Quarterly, 2001; 79(3): 429-457.