TRSA - Tackling the Penny-Wise

The Role of Quality and Value Incentives” finds that aggregate hospital revenue from outpatient services grew from 30% in 1995 to 47% in 2016. “Hospital inpatient stays have declined 6.6% over the past decade, despite population growth and demographic shifts (such as a larger, sicker Medicare population). In contrast, between 2005 and 2015, visits to outpatient facilities increased by 14%,” according to the report.

Remillong is no stranger to the growth in outpatient care, noting that, “We’ve been talking about this trend for a while. The increase in outpatient services is real, measurable; it’s absolutely happening.”

While Crothall Healthcare is seeing an increase in outpatient services, she adds that impatient services are stable. We just did a survey of members and one question we asked was: Have you seen a decrease in inpatient care? Across the board the answer was ‘no.’ That’s good for us.” Commercial laundries that want to provide value-based services to outpatient customers should be prepared to add product to their mix, Remillong says. “In some cases they want a supplemental product line. Maybe robes, nicer gowns. It’s a little more consumer driven.”

But the best way for commercial laundries to show value is by understanding and catering to outpatient clinics.

A hospital wants product shipped in bulk, Remillong says, noting that outpatient service requires a different model. “You adapt,” she says. “It’s less volume, different packaging, a different delivery method. Most commercial laundries deliver to hospitals in semi- or big-box trucks. With outpatient clinic service the vehicle is much smaller and the mode of delivery is different. The skill set for drivers might be different. They might be doing the restocking, actually going into some of these offices’ locations.” The upshot? If you want to grow your hospital and/or outpatient business without selling on price alone, emphasize your value quotient with proactive, qualified service people. You also can offer hospitals branded garments with a focus on security/image and provide outpatient clients with more textile choices from bed and bath linens to gowns, scrubs and surgical items. Finally, if you’re not already doing so, reorganize your outpatient business with a customized route-based focus, rather than the bulk approach common with hospital customers. Prayers and a rabbit’s foot for good luck might not do any harm either, since the penny-pinching trend in healthcare across North America shows little sign of abating anytime soon.

Stephenie Overman is a freelance writer based in Reston, VA.

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