“Productivity — the amount of output delivered per hour of work in the economy — is often viewed as the engine of progress in modern capitalist economies. Output is everything. Time is money. The quest for increased productivity occupies reams of academic literature and haunts the waking hours of C.E.O.s and finance ministers.” – Tim Jackson, ecological economist and professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey
I am an occupational therapist and six years ago I also became a small business owner. My parents were hard-working entrepreneurs, so I had lots of early exposure to the ways of business. Our dinner table conversations often included discussions about bills of lading, sales reports, delivery dates and inventory. I learned the essential nature of a sustainable business: more money coming in than going out.
I understand that healthcare is an industry. Whether the hospital, outpatient clinic, rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility or home health agency is set up as a not-for-profit or as a traditional business, if it runs at a deficit it is unwell and ultimately unsustainable.
In my parents’ business the main measure of success was selling goods at a profitable rate, while maintaining low-as-possible overhead costs. Each quarter they would hope to do a little better than the one before. Some years were better than others, but over time they became skilled at figuring out how many lawn mowers or hedge clippers to order, and ways to keep their employees productive even in the Midwestern winter (answer: sell snow shovels and Christmas trees instead of lawn equipment).
Healthcare professionals typically view our main measure of success as the degree to which we help those we serve. The organizations we work for usually highlight patient care in […]