A hospital in the Midwest needed to fill a leadership vacancy after struggling with performance issues from their previous Laboratory Director for several months. The organization’s leadership had been trying to collaborate with him, but the Director was unable to implement suggestions from the rest of leadership. His lack of communication with staff resulted in stunted growth within the organization, and improvement goals were not being met.
These incompatibilities within their leadership and staff led the healthcare organization to contact Compass Clinical Consulting for help. Compass was retained by the organization to provide an interim Director of Laboratory, while the organization looked to fill this position permanently.
The Interim’s Approach: Open-Door Policy
Immediately upon arrival, the Interim Director of Laboratory established an open-door policy for the staff members’ convenience and comfort. Mindful of the importance of staff and supervisors’ involvement, he intentionally communicated with staff and leadership, making sure to involve them in everything going on and even visiting the laboratory two to three times a day. The staff expressed their appreciation of the Interim Director’s attention and support during his leadership. His communicative nature sparked their own reception, enabling the Interim to gain their confidence within a week of arrival.
Hiring the Right People and Organizing Processes
Following a large staffing turnover, the organization knew it needed to focus on hiring the right people, and the Interim gave the hiring manager assistance in which qualities to look for in the hiring process. The Interim also identified that the organization was not using many PRN staff, which he encouraged the organization embrace to balance the load and provide flexibility within staffing.
Additional problems centered around processes. Procedural manuals were in hardcopy format, which made them more difficult to maintain and led to staff following out-of-date processes. The Interim introduced staff to a document control software package as an option for better maintaining these documents in the future. Additionally, the organization was struggling with finishing invoices on time, resulting in late payments. The Interim established the importance of following up on the orders.
Improving Efficiencies and Filling Vacancies
The Interim focused on improving the department’s efficiency, including reducing expenses on reference labs by switching to less expensive labs, and directing utilization of existing chemistry analyzers to duplicate analytical options and eliminating service interruptions due to analyzer downtime. He spurred the Core Lab to use Lean concepts to analyze sample flow from processing to analysis, and use creative methods instead of just adopting the status quo. The department staff adopted many of these recommendations into the flow of operations.
Additionally, the Interim assisted in interviewing for replacements of phlebotomy staff to select best candidates and thereby reduce the turnover rate, filling five of the total seven vacancies.
Staff proved extremely receptive to all suggestions given by the Interim, which resulted in high-yielding improvements in the laboratory.
Open and Communicative Culture Upon Exit
During his engagement, the Interim Director of Laboratory provided many suggestions and feedback for improvement in the areas of operational efficiency and personnel changes.
The staff demonstrated immense gratitude toward and acceptance of the Interim and his established changes; they were already improving many operations, and the Midwestern organization was much more transparent in their communications going forward.
At the end of the engagement, the Interim left the organization with a constructive, productive plan for improvement to be led by the new, permanent Director of Laboratory and supported by enthusiastic, engaged staff members.
If you would like to find out more about the successes our interims have had in the laboratory or other areas and how your hospital can maintain safe, quality patient care, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 241.0142.
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