Need for Project Management in Healthcare

Ramitha Herath
Associate Manager - Delivery
Article

The Healthcare industry continues to evolve under the pressures of increasing costs and demands for quality. This evolution has made the need for project management more apparent than ever before. As a result, healthcare organizations have commenced applying the foundations of project management in their operations and are focused on improving health outcomes across the care continuum.

Key growth drivers in current Healthcare Landscape

Currently, there are over 900,000 practicing physicians in the US and nearly $3 trillion is spent on hospital care, physician services, nursing homes, personal health care, and other goods and services. On a per capita basis, this is about $10,000; overall, it represents almost 17.5 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The bulk of this growth has been driven by the increasing number of Americans who have health insurance. The U.S. government reports that since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate has fallen to a record-breaking 9.2 percent and the prediction is that an additional 34 million Americans will enroll for coverage over the next 10 years. For the most part, this shift has been viewed as favorable, but it has attracted more attention to the need for efficiency and effectiveness in how healthcare services are delivered.

4 reasons why we need project management in Healthcare:

  1. Forces affecting the healthcare ecosystem. Two major forces, one with a high potential for adding to costs, and the other with a high potential for reducing them, are currently at work within the healthcare system. Because these forces often act in opposition on the professionals engaged in healthcare projects, they contribute to project management challenges.
  2. The growing emphasis on electronic health records systems. More and more organizations are taking on projects to incorporate new elements into their workflows, improve processes at every stage of care, and enhance their facilities while improving outcomes and decreasing costs.
  3. Regulatory pressures. Complex regulatory limitations increase the need for effective project management. Project managers must be mindful of countless processes and regulations around patient safety, quality, and privacy. While every industry has their own set of rules, healthcare has a rather complex set of rules to comply with and has multiple governments and private agencies, such as the Joint Commission monitoring compliance. These increased restrictions place all the more importance on project planning and execution.
  4. Multiple stakeholders. Unlike other industries, healthcare lacks a simple “buyer” and “seller” relationship. Instead, they have multiple parties involved. For example, if the product is care, the recipients are the patients, the providers are doctors and nurses, while the buyers are health insurance payers and the government. The presence of numerous stakeholders increases complexity. Likewise, healthcare project teams may be larger and more diverse due to the fundamentally cross-functional nature of patient care, requiring a project manager who is flexible and willing to take all views into consideration. Projects in healthcare also require more approvers and it’s vital that all parties be identified in the planning stage to avoid delays in the execution stage.

In an industry that is changing and growing at an extremely rapid pace, project management can offer structure and discipline. Using proven methodologies and processes will help the field accomplish more in less time, save resources, and nurture collaboration. The healthcare industry will only benefit if it opens itself to the immense benefits project management offers. It’s time for the industry to take the leap of change!

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