Taking the First Step on the Capacity Management Journey

Riding in the backseat of my parent’s car as a young child, I got goosebumps every time we passed a hospital. They weren’t just buildings to me—they were the heart of the community―and all I could think about was the exciting work that was going on inside to help sick people feel better. And I also thought that if I was ever lucky enough to work in a place like that, I could make a difference too. Well, for the past 33 years I have been lucky enough to do just that—caring for patients, holding their hands, drying their tears and supporting their families. And for the past six years, I’ve been helping patients in a different way, working with health systems on increasing operational efficiency and capacity management so that they can open their doors—and deliver care—to even more patients.

Timely Patient Care

Like I said, I have 33 years of experience in healthcare and I’ve seen the landscape change dramatically over that time. My head spins when I think about what’s necessary to meet the demand of patient populations, along with the new difficulties involved in caring for sick patients. Not to mention the fact that operational complexities and administrative burdens are forcing stand-alone hospitals to consolidate with health systems to stay competitive.

Did you know in 2014 there were 487 multi-site health systems in the U.S.—and the projection for 2024 has it increasing to 926? Moving from a stand-alone hospital to a health system brings a physical and emotional burden to both patients and employees—especially around finding ways to ensure that access to quality and timely care is available to those who need it.

So how do you do it? How do you manage capacity and deliver excellent care? The first step is building an overall culture of accountability—where everyone from the chief medical officer to the unit nurse is engaged, ready to do what it takes to put an operational plan into action, and ready to take ownership for overall organizational results. Then once everyone is committed to making these changes, the next step to ensuring care is being delivered and capacity maximized—whether it’s a standalone hospital or an expansive health system—is being able to assess what the demand for care will be, develop a plan to meet it, and then execute on the specific tactics to achieve that plan.

Once you’ve put those foundations in place, here are five additional recommendations to continue to drive operational efficiency and increase capacity:

  • Establish an organizational structure that provides all staff members with the official reporting relationships that govern workflows around capacity management.
  • Create transparency around the workflows and policies that are dedicated to capacity management.
  • When capacity management is a priority, with a specific mission and vision around increasing access to care for the community, the staff feels a sense of empowerment that they are making a difference.
  • Effective capacity management is a powerful foundation to make sure no patient waits for the care or bed they need to have. 
  • And finally, the most important message about capacity management is the message of safety that it sends to patients and employees—and that has a direct link to being a facility of choice for patients and an employer of choice for healthcare workers.

So, is your organization doing these things to manage capacity and create a system where patients are receiving the right care, in the right place, at the right time? I’m sure I can hear some people saying “Absolutely! We’re doing all of these things.” And I can also here others saying “We’re not even close. In fact, I have no idea who is accountable for managing patient flow. It’s the loudest request that always wins the next bed.”

Whatever your answer is please consider taking this quick survey and I will share the results in my next blog!

Capacity Management Survey

If you answered yes to all these questions—congratulations! I want to talk to you and learn about the great outcomes you are driving. And if you didn’t answer yes to all of them―congratulations to you as well, because you now have an awesome opportunity to improve your organization. Take that step, contact me and let’s get started on this journey!!

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About the Expert

Maria RomanoMaria Romano RN, BS

Clinical Client Success Director

Prior to joining TeleTracking, Maria spent more than seven years at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY where she built and managed the Patient Logistics & Transfer Center. Maria’s abstract was chosen as a podium presentation at the Magnet Conference where she presented on: How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has a Direct Effect on Nursing Retention.

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Patient Throughput, Patient Flow Experts
Media Type
Clinician, Operations

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