"Recalculating . recalculating, turn around," the global positioning system voice repeats until someone prevents the GPS from going airborne by turning it off. We are traveling from Harrisonburg, Va., to Long Beach, Miss., with 15 high school football players to spend their spring break cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina.
GPS is a satellite-based global navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. It is maintained by the U.S. government and is freely accessible by anyone with a GPS receiver.
Our respiratory team has been on a similar adventure as we aim to hit a hospital mandate of 100 percent productivity. This task challenged us to be creative and innovative without compromising patient safety or compromising our 16 months of 0 percent turnover. Demonstrating high productivity levels was easier in the past, when out inpatient volumes were higher, and we performed concurrent handheld nebulizer therapy.
We quickly realized that we needed an automated single organization daily productivity report (in other words, a GPS) that could reconcile the number of hours staff worked to budgeted hours. Our database administrator patiently tolerated my endless emails, questions, calls, and testimonies of my team. And physicians were open to our requests to change workflow process. Here is how we progressed on our journey so far:
Starting location: Developed daily productivity report that includes relative value units, fixed and productivity targets, fixed and productive actual hours, fixed in-service, orientation, meetings, fixed leadership, and flex productivity and performance Index
Saved location July: 93 percent (July YTD 97 percent); low census time 300 hours July YTD
Saved location August: 99.3 percent
Saved location September: 102 percent
Saved location October: 101.8 percent; low Census time 750 hours
Ending destination: 100 percent productivity monthly August to December.
The respiratory department has been the driving force in pilot testing this new tool and making it work. They determine when in a shift it is safe to send a teammate home, and I trust their judgment when their intuition says safety is a concern.
At first, the daily productivity reminders were annoying, but then this "stethoscope leader" listened to his many teammates and his heart: The productivity tool isn't just about numbers; it's about people. It's about the patients and families who have given us their sacred trust and know that we are fully capable of bringing our best team to the bedside every day.
By the way, about that football trip with the GPS, the rest of that story went like this: We had traveled all night and finally made it to Tennessee. We got off Interstate 40 because nature's calls for empty stomachs and full bladders for 15 high school football players always trumps the GPS voice saying, "Recalculating . recalculating, turn around."
Stan Holland, MS, RRT, is the director of pulmonary services at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Va.