Something that you might not realize if you have only worked at one, two or three hospitals, systems or IDNs in your supply chain career: All hospitals, systems or IDNs have a different culture or shared beliefs, values, customs, practices and social behavior that guide their actions.
Having worked with more than 496 hospitals, systems and IDNs as consultants, trainers, and coaches, in the last 25 years, we can attest to this cultural fact from our own empirical experience: we have never, ever, seen a healthcare organization that is the same culturally.
Organizational cultures develop over many years and usually are originated by their founder’s ideas. Ray Croc, the force behind McDonald’s, was a neat freak, so his focus was on cleanliness of his stores’ bathrooms and parking lots. As the story goes, when Croc visited his stores nationwide the first place he would go was their parking lots to pick up paper even though he could have asked one of his workers to do so. This was so important to Croc that he was willing to do this dirty work himself, even though he was a multi-millionaire, so his employees would get the message: Cleanliness matters at McDonald’s!
How do these cultural aspects relate to healthcare cost management? Well, some hospitals’ cultures are frugal, Spartan, careful and conservative, while others are careless, hasty, heedless and rash. If you work at the latter, your job as a cost manager will be very — very difficult, unless new management is hired that brings a new enlightened cultural foundation to your hospital, system or IDN. However, don’t despair!
You can make big, small and incremental changes in your hospital, system or IDNs’ cost management culture, even if it isn’t very cost conscious, by chipping away at the waste and inefficiency in your healthcare organization’s supply expenses. This is because even in organizational cultures that aren’t frugal and conservative in their cost management attitudes losing money by being careless and inefficient is hard to justify in the New Economy we find ourselves living and working in today.