Part 2: How a CEO Empowered Staff to Save $3M and Their Jobs

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , April 1, 2011

"These were things within their work environment that they could control," Newton explained.

He provided details of cost-saving measures enacted by Swedish Covenant Hospital staff:

  • The emergency department used evidence-based research to determine that a more cost-effective type of irrigation solution would be just as safe and effective, saving an estimated $10,800 a year.
  • The inpatient pharmacy implemented stewardship efforts for distribution of antibiotics, which saved an estimated $60,000.
  • Operational changes were implemented to reduce infection rates and improve many other quality measures.
  • Nursing units stopped printing lab results and other items that could be viewed electronically ;
  • Radiology continued conversion from film to digital images;
  • Medication formularies built into the EMR system mean physicians automatically order the most cost-effective, appropriate medications available
  • Some nursing units placed "turn off the lights" reminders by every light switch to save electricity costs; patient monitors and equipment in rooms were turned off when not in use
  • The surgical recovery area created a schedule to streamline staffing which saved $24,577 in overtime;
  • Increase in market share by 1.39% from 2008 to 2009; Volumes were higher – partially thanks to employee efforts:
  • Employees became active ambassadors for hospital services among family, friends, neighbors as well as physicians;
  • Testing and rehabilitation services departments made special efforts to encourage patients to attend their appointments, such as reminder phone calls. This ultimately improved patient outcomes and recovery.

It's rare to see this type of effort expended to avoid a few dozen layoffs, but Newton says it shouldn't be.

"I don't know why it's so rare," he says. "It's not that brilliant of an idea. It's a little unconventional. But the bigger picture is that it gets the egos and the formalities out of the way in the workplace. You deal with people respectfully, tell them how they're accountable, and they'll respond."

Although Swedish met its goal, and was able to avoid layoffs, Newton is careful to say that this type of employee engagement becomes ingrained, which is the key benefit of the exercise beyond the $3 million saved. He cautions, however, that the big, easy savings are not easily repeatable.

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5 comments on "Part 2: How a CEO Empowered Staff to Save $3M and Their Jobs"

amber rotter (1/13/2012 at 5:22 PM)
How did Mark Newton's daughter make 50,000 in 2009? What exactly does she do? Oh,I also remember her winning the 10,000 Gala raffle. Was that fixed Mark Newton.Stop firing good employees and acting like you cold hearted jerks are compassionate. Get ris of your daughter's bullshit position. Everyone,especially doctors, hate you. What does Derek Kelly do that he made 339,493 in 2009? Sorry Guaccio, he made more than you.How is it that Mary Shehan also has a family member that is getting paid. P.S. Stop trying to hire more physicians. We have no respect for physicians that cannot be successful on their own. We all know that other hospital is buying Swedish. It's funny how you made sure the vocal, outspoken honest nurses were off when magnat was there. Once you had your magnet status,you got rid ocf everything good. You also cut people's pay and understaffed the floors. NOthing good has happened since you have been there. You pretend to be a class act but you are the opposite.

RN (7/3/2011 at 10:29 AM)
re: Don's post. Don, you forgot other ways that the hospital saved money DURING that year. The evening and night shift differentials were cut from dietary, public safety, maintenance and housekeeping workers. It went from $2/hr to $1/hr and has never been restored. It was done quickly and quietly.

Mike (5/11/2011 at 4:50 PM)
I am proud to say that Mark Newton was one of the most influential leaders and mentors I have had the privilege to work with in my career. he took a the time to invest in my growth and development as a young professional in healthcare that has led to my professional success.




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