Boosting quality while driving down costs

Driving down labor costs is always tricky business, as a few high-profile reports of nursing strikes illustrate. You'll hear several great ideas on how to save money and improve care quality, albeit by getting more out of staff, rather than reducing their ranks or benefits and ticking them off.

Case in point: Folks from Mid-Michigan Health share insights Monday on how they used nonmonetary "point-based" incentives to motivate staff, boost morale and save on labor costs. (There's even a session on "revenue cycle staff motivation," which sounds intriguing.) There should also be some great ideas (and interesting questions) at a session Wednesday led by folks at Alegent Health, who share their hi- and lo-tech tactics for financial and clinical collaboration.

And how about those physicians? One of healthcare's many holy grails involves strong collaborative relationships with physicians as key to a healthy financial performance--from appropriately using your most expensive resources to improving patient care and closely adhering to evidence-based practices. Never has this been more important than in the coming wake of health reform, which has several provisions aimed at quality- and performance-based pay.

ANI offers a few sessions that speak directly to this, including one session that offers a handy overview of current initiatives and another that focuses on physician employment. Of course, there's also the aforementioned Geisinger session. But better get there early--we predict standing-room only for that one.