Hospitals and Airports Have More in Common Than You Think

July 20, 2016

I was talking with the CEO of a hospital last week about the ongoing challenges of delivering high quality of care to an ever-increasing volume of patients, simultaneously being forced to lower costs.  He told me that hospitals are now facing the same challenges that airports have been struggling with for years.  You might think to yourself, what do hospitals and airports have in common? Well, here it is… there’s an increased number of travelers utilizing the same number of airports, gates, and runways, with the airlines under tremendous pressure to control costs while putting safety above all else.

He then described some of the operational improvement initiatives that he wanted to focus on during the next several years.  They included:

  • optimizing his operating room utilization,
  • reducing cancellation and no-show rates for therapy services,
  • increasing productivity across all functions, and
  • decreasing patient length of stay.

He drew another comparison to hospitals and airports related to support services.  Hospital patients depend on timely lab test results, error-free filling of prescriptions, flawless communication between a myriad of care providers, and an efficient planning and scheduling system for treatment.  To deliver an excellent travel experience, airports depend on baggage handlers, maintenance teams, airplane fuel delivery personnel, food service providers, and perfection when it comes to communication between the pilots and air traffic control.

I was reflecting on this conversation several days later and had to admit that many challenges facing hospitals and airports are indeed similar.  Both need to figure out how to do more with less.

This blog was written by Sally Ryberg, Executive Vice President at Trindent Consulting. She has over 15 years of consulting experience working with large global organizations to identify and implement profit improvement strategies. In her current role, she works with executives and senior leaders to identify solutions to complex business issues. She also provides direction and leadership to the business development team.