Tag Archives: health care

Job Analysis: Analyzing Position Descriptions

Every organization is formed with a purpose in mind, the vision. In order to achieve this purpose, positions within the organization must work toward attaining certain goals furthering the larger organizational vision, the mission. Those who administer these organizations must catalog and organize the requisite roles, tasks, duties, and responsibilities required to achieve the goals and vision of the organization. This process is called job analysis and results in position descriptions for each job required to facilitate the mission of the organization (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Position descriptions serve as a framework to codify the chain of command, roles and responsibilities, and functional lists of duties to be performed (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Position descriptions also help to determine the value and compensation requirements of each position (Fallon & McConnell, 2007).

Unfortunately, as Fallon and McConnell (2007) discuss, many organizations fail to create adequate position descriptions, putting the organizations at risk of possible litigation, or less severe, employee confusion and ultimate inefficient operations.

Taxonomy of a Position Description

Fallon and McConnell (2007) write adamantly that “job descriptions have a regular format, style, and language” (p. 119) and are a result of a vigorous job analyses. Fallon and McConnell outline the components of a valid position description: job title, FLSA status, a summary of duties, compensation (salary range), knowledge required to perform the job, particular skills required to perform the job, the level of physical, psychological, and emotional effort usually required to perform the job, responsibilities inherent in the position, typical working conditions, and other general statements describing the position. Position descriptions using this format and with a certain level of detail can also be helpful in evaluating employees already in the position.

Using this format, I will compare two similar health care position descriptions (Northwest EMS, 2007; U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) and discuss their similarities and differences.

Comparing and Contrasting Position Descriptions

Northwest EMS: Paramedic

Northwest EMS, located in Tomball, Texas, is the municipal provider of emergency medical services. Either city or departmental human resources would have directed the analysis required to formulate the position description.

Strengths. This paramedic position description (Northwest EMS, 2007) clearly follows a similar outline as recommended by Fallon and McConnell (2007). Further, as this position requires particular licenses, certifications, and other qualifications, these are enumerated distinctly as minimum qualifications for the position.

The biggest strength of this position description, however, is the section which details very particular job requirements, both physical and non-physical, as they relate to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Weaknesses. This position description does not provide a salary range for the position. Although this could be a result of the document lying in the public domain and quickly becoming outdated, a salary range should be communicated openly for applicants to consider. This would benefit both the organization and the applicant, ensuring recruitment resources are expended only on applicants with a continued interest in the position.

National Park Service: Paramedic

This position is within the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park. The position description would have been developed through position analysis by the U. S. Office of Personnel Management at the direction of the National Park Service.

Strengths. This paramedic position (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) also follows a similar outline as recommended by Fallon and McConnell (2007) and also provides that certain licenses, certifications, and other qualifications are required; however, as this is a federal position governed by separate and particular rules, there are particular components within the position description that are unique to federal government job postings.

One strength of this position description that notably differs with the Northwest EMS description is the inclusion of the salary range.

Weaknesses. No FLSA status is noted within the position description, but the FLSA might not apply to this federal position.


In analyzing similar position descriptions within municipal and federal organizations, there will be particular differences guided by the requisite employment rules and legislation for each; however, there are certain universal requirements for adequately describing the duties and responsibilities of each position, and it seems that both the Northwest EMS (2007) and National Park Service (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) position descriptions are, indeed, adequate representations of each paramedic job.


Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Northwest EMS. (2007). Paramedic job description. Retrieved from http://www.nwems.org/ employment_Paramedic.pdf

U. S. Office of Personnel Management. (2012). Health technician (paramedic). Retrieved from http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/307171500

Human Resource Management, Part 2

“Didn’t Cut It? Hire Another”

Human resource management (HRM), especially when considering employment contracts, is heavily reliant on the understanding of the laws and regulations governing the jurisdiction of practice, whether these laws and regulations are local, state, or federally mandated. Fallon and McConnell (2007) demonstrate that “many laws and other legal requirements exert considerable influence on the employment process …. [and,] managers must [also] be aware of many aspects and nuances of HR law….” (p. 127). Kathy Gray’s difficulty, as described in the Fallon and McConnell chapter seven case study, arises from a culture within the organization that does not appear to respect the utility of HRM as both necessary and effective for the business. In the scenario, Kathy Gray is tasked with hiring a clerk for an open position; however, as soon as she makes her determination of the candidates, Sam Weston undermines the authority bestowed upon her and hires the lesser qualified of the two applicants. This would be difficult for anyone in a similar situation.

There are a number of problems that could stem from this scenario. First, by hiring the less qualified candidate, the business will utilize resources in training the chosen candidate only to seek out a replacement before recouping the expenses related to hiring and training the individual. O’Brien (2010) describes “the process of recruiting, selecting, hiring, and retaining employees [to be] difficult and costly” (p. 113). It would seem obvious that the chosen candidate should be the most qualified to save both cost and effort. Second, by Sam Weston undermining Kathy Gray’s authority, he has made her less effective as a leader. Kathy Gray was hired as a business manager and must earn the respect of those within the organization that she leads. By undermining her hiring authority, Sam Weston creates the perception that she is not prepared in her role as a manager. Fallon and McConnell (2007) posit that Sam Weston should have merely prepared himself to be a resource for Kathy Gray had she met difficulty in carrying out her newfound responsibilities. I have to agree as this would have allowed Kathy Gray to develop confidence in her new role, and a clear message would be sent throughout the organization regarding Kathy Gray’s authority in matters pertaining to her office. Although Sam Weston did choose an inept candidate, I do not see any reason why Kathy Gray cannot terminate the employment of her subordinate herself, as is the organizational norm. That being stated, there are better methods of dealing with employment matters than ad hoc hiring and firing of personnel by managers (Fallon & McConnell, 2007; O’Brien, 2010).

Fallon and McConnell (2007) and O’Brien (2010) both agree that HRM is a systematic approach to employment matters with ethical and legal considerations and implications. Meadows Nursing Home, the organization discussed in Fallon and McConnell’s case study, would do well to employ a human resources specialist (if not a human resources department) to handle the vetting of applicants, from within the organization as well as without. By developing a working partnership with the human resource team, managers can be assured that chosen applicants have met the minimum requirements for job performance, that job descriptions are accurate and detailed, and that, in the event an employee must be separated from employment, it will be handled in a professional, legal, and proper manner.

Finally, consideration should always be given to applicants within the organization before looking outward to fill vacancies. Employing from within demonstrates to the current staff a culture and willingness to cultivate talent and allow professional growth as a reward for loyalty. Also, current staff are already familiar with the business processes that an outsider may find atypical, and this would lead to short assimilation time; however, the organization runs the risk of “organizational in-breeding” if not enough outside influence is achieved (Eisenberg & Wells, 2000). With this in mind, promotions from within should be the norm unless considering vacant management positions, which should be advertised both within and outside of the organization in order to ensure competition among the candidates.


Eisenberg, T. & Wells, M. T. (2000). Inbreeding in law school hiring: Assessing the performance of faculty hired from within. Journal of Legal Studies, 29(S1), 369-388. doi:10.1086/468077

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Department managers and the recruiting process. In Human resource management in health care: principles and practice (pp. 125-145). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

O’Brien, J. A. (2010). Recruit and hire the best fit for your practice. The Journal of Medical Practice Management, 26(2), 113–118.

Human Resource Management

Mrs. Jackson’s Dilemma

In the dilemma of Mrs. Clara Jackson, as presented by Fallon and McConnell (2007), the emergence of health care professions created a vacuum of administrative roles that, until this time, were haphazardly fulfilled by senior clinical staff. Mrs. Jackson, professionally torn between clinical and adminstrative roles, understood that one would suffer for the attention spent on the other. As this realization set in, Mrs. Jackson allowed non-clinical supervisors to hire employees; however, this tended to decentralize the function of personnel management. This ad hoc methodology would eventually prove detrimental as regulations and legal requirements become standard. Mrs. Jackson could enlist an assistant to help with these administartive roles, but an unprepared assistant would prove as detrimental as the decentralized process previously discussed.

Caldwell, Troung, Linh, and Tuan (2011) show that “reframing an organization’s internal environment [by implementing strategic human resource functions] results in significantly higher organizational outcomes and financial performance that is superior to what firms can attain by implementing individual human resource program elements piecemeal” (p. 172); therefore, reorganizing and restructuring the processes used to handle these administrative personnel issues would benefit the hospital better than the ad hoc use of senior clinical personnel, such as Mrs. Jackson (Fallon & McConnell, 2007), especially with workforce legislation circa 1930 (e.g. workmen’s compensation, Social Security, collective bargaining).

These issues, requiring a sense of increasing specialization and knowledge, helped to form the field of human resource management (HRM) as we understand it today. HRM strives to use a form of “ethical stewardship[,] … a philosophy of leadership and governance that optimizes long-term wealth creation and that honors duties owed to all stakeholders” (Caldwell, Troung, Linh, & Tuan, 2011, 178), to “help their organizations add value to the lives of individuals and organizations” (Caldwell, Troung, Linh, & Tuan, 2011, p. 177). This philosophy helps to gain “commitment from employees which is the key to long-term wealth creation” (Caldwell, Troung, Linh, & Tuan, 2011, 178). Using this philosophy of ethical stewardship, HRM managers would have enlisted the help of Mrs. Jackson to formulate a list of requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform each clinical job and hire nurses based on these, while meeting the requirements of employment law and regulation, so as to free Mrs. Jackson to perform her senior clinical role unimpeded.


Caldwell, C., Truong, D. X., Linh, P. T., & Tuan, A. (2011). Strategic human resource management as ethical stewardship. Journal of Business Ethics, 98(1), 171–182. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0541-y

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Marketing Plans in Health Care

Health care marketing is interesting when considering military treatment facilities. Naval Hospital Pensacola, according to Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003), is limited in the scope and manner that administrators are allowed to use federal monies to fund marketing efforts. Since budget cuts forced many military installations to close, and with them the attached military treatment facilities, efforts have been made, through programs like Tricare, to redirect the military health care market to the civilian care providers; however, hospitals that remain in operation, such as Naval Hospital Pensacola, have found that their market share has decreased sharply over time.

Naval Hospital Pensacola developed a marketing plan in 2003 to address the 5,000 enrollment opportunities that were left vacant due to military restructuring and Tricare development.

About Naval Hospital Pensacola

Naval Hospital Pensacola, a 60 bed facility, is the second oldest Naval hospital. The services provided by Naval Hospital Pensacola are primarily primary care, but the facility also has five operating suites and also provides urology, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, among other services and operates with a budget of $64.5-million (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003). Naval Hospital Pensacola’s pharmacy is said to be the fourth busiest in the Navy, according to Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003).

Marketing Naval Hospital Pensacola


In order to analyze the potential for additional capacity, Naval Hospital Pensacola formed a committee whose recommendation was that an additional 5,000 enrollee capacity was possible. The hospital, at the time of the plan formulation, served approximately 19,000 enrollees. The Managed Care Department of Naval Hospital Pensacola then developed this marketing plan to answer the recommendations of the capacity committee. Additionally, “the hospital implemented a policy which requires TRICARE Prime enrollees moving within [Naval Hospital Pensacola’s] catchment area of 40 miles, to use [Naval Hospital Pensacola]” (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003, p. 1). This policy ensured that certain Tricare recipients must utilize services provided by the naval hospital and dissuaded them from using civilian services that other Tricare recipients were allowed to use. This policy, according to Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003), provided additional access to approximately 10,000 Tricare Prime recipients residing within the 40-mile catchment area of Naval Hospital Pensacola.

SWOT Analysis

The marketing plan (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003) provided internal and external analyses that showed staffing was adequate for the proposed growth and, unlike the civilian sector, the funding would be made available based on use as Naval Hospital Pensacola is a military treatment facility whose budget relies on enrollment and not on cost-savings. “Because [Naval Hospital Pensacola] derives its funds via Federal appropriations, [Naval Hospital Pensacola’s] administration does not experience the financial pressures that civilian counterparts face, and can focus on quality issues” (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003, p. 7). Additionally, Naval Hospital Pensacola relies on the concept of one-stop shopping for enrollee health care needs as a marketing strength.

However, the SWOT analysis detailed within Ludvigsen and Carroll’s (2003) marketing plan admits that the naval hospital suffers access of care issues as a main vulnerability. This, coupled with a broken promise image, allows three other area hospitals to fulfill this marketing void. “Effectively competing requires improving quality of care, creating access, improving facilities, providing amenities, and promoting these accomplishments” (p. 9). Examples of Federal legislation are provided to show the marketing disadvantages of military treatment facilities.


The primary objective of the marketing plan (Ludvigsen & Carrol, 2003) is to increase enrollment by 5,000 Tricare Prime recipients, mainly within the internal medicine, family practice, and pediatric clinics. In order to be viewed as successful, the minimum additional enrollment must be 2,000 over the next two years, again targeting 5,000 additional enrollees.


The marketing plan (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003) of Naval Hospital Pensacola utilizes a combination of three models in order to focus the hospital efforts. The first model is the traditional marketing mix model detailed by four components: product, placement, pricing, and promotion. The second model, based on the hospital’s own consumer marketing studies, include four components, “the Four C’s” (p. 21): competence, convenience, communication, and compassion. The final model, based on the Institute of Medicine’s (2001) health care improvement aims and objectives, includes safety, efficacy, patient-centricity, timeliness, efficiency, and equity.

Using a matrix to match the qualities of each of the three models, criteria were developed to further synthesize the goals of the hospital, its marketing theory, and the expectations of the targeted health care consumers. Representation of this combined modeling, however, starts to confound the reader by unnecessary references to concepts of quantum physics. The model is concisely represented by three dimensional representation with patient-focus in the middle of a pyramid formed between product, access, efficiency, and promotion.


Being a military treatment facility and being highly governed by Federal legislation, Naval Hospital Pensacola is not a typical health care organization. In order to market improved or underutilized services, the hospital requires a novel approach, which is outlined within the marketing plan of Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003).

Naval Hospital Pensacola does well to focus, first, on the strengths and weaknesses identified by internal and external analyses, then, developing a plan that exploits the strengths to develop a means of overcoming the identified weaknesses. By focusing on industry-accepted aims and objectives, Naval Hospital Pensacola demonstrates improvement in measurable areas to attract additional enrollment. It is important to note, however, that, being a military treatment facility, the hospital enjoys a rare advantage of being able to pass rules mandating enrollment of certain beneficiaries within the prescribed catchment area.

The plan is an effective means of overcoming certain identified obstacles. It is realistic, allowing for fail-soft situations (or, minimal standard improvement), and comprehensive plan that addresses a true marketing need for both the hospital and the target health care consumer.


Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the quality chasm: a new health system for the 21st century. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Ludvigsen, S. M. & Carroll, W. D. (2003). Naval Hospital Pensacola marketing plan. Retrieved from http://www.tricare.mil/familycare/downloads/marketing_plan.pdf

Measuring EMS: Patient Satisfaction

As a paramedic, I become discouraged when so-called academic literature, like that of McLean, Maio, Spaite, and Garrison (2002), Spaite (1993), and Stiell et al. (2008), turns up describing what little impact the emergency medical services, especially advanced life support procedures, have on patients. Instead of dismissing these writings, I tend to focus within the view of my own practice and experience on how I feel that I impact the patients that I see. This exercise allows me to confront the literature in a specific and meaningful manner that might be used in the future to publish a dissenting view. This discussion gives me a lens through which to dissect the import I feel that the emergency medical services has as a public safety entity.

Public safety is typically viewed as the amalgamation of police, fire, and emergency medical services. In all three, the public seems to have the idea that we stop threats before they take hold; however, we typically respond to the aftermath, the police to investigate crimes that have already occurred, the fire department to conflagrations that have already caused damage, and emergency medical services to traumatic incidents or medical conditions that have already caused distress. There are exceptions. The police have learned to integrate crime prevention techniques, the fire department has learned to adopt a fire prevention model of service, and the emergency medical services in many areas support preventative health clinics, such as community immunization, blood pressure checks, and CPR and first aid classes. The public, I feel, has a skewed perception of each one of these departments (e.g. the police should stop crime in progress, the fire department should save their house, and emergency medical systems should save their loved one whenever called upon to do so). Any deviation from the public perception is, in their minds, a failure of the system.

I ask myself, “What is that we, as the emergency medical services, do that really matters?” For the public, it seems that the answer can be given two-fold: “save me” and “make me feel better.” El Sayed (2012) describes the manner in which both aspects, outcomes and patient satisfaction, can be measured, as both are essential. Unfortunately, El Sayed does not go into much detail regarding patient satisfaction scores, except as a means of measure. In contrast, I feel that the most benefit that we offer patients is that we alleviate suffering. From a confident, yet compassionate, bed-side manner to effective and efficient treatment modalities, emergency medical personnel can prove to be the mediator between illness or injury and definitive hospital-based care. Emergency medical providers should be knowledgeable enough about the hospital to calm and educate patients as to what to expect. Further, medical knowledge allows the provider to restore a choking person’s breathing, to stop an epileptic seizure, and to minimize a crash victim’s pain. In my opinion, these measures are just as important, if not more, to quality management as mortality and morbidity. Again, El Sayed mentions the generality of patient satisfaction; however, with the abundance of competing literature questioning the effectiveness of the emergency medical services, patient satisfaction should be expounded upon as a legitimate and important aspect of quality patient care.


El Sayed, M. J. (2012). Measuring quality in emergency medical services: a review of clinical performance indicators. Emergency Medicine International, 2012, 1-7, doi:10.1155/2012/161630

McLean, S. A., Maio, R. F., Spaite, D. W., & Garrison, H. G. (2002). Emergency medical services outcomes research: evaluating the effectiveness of prehospital care. Prehospital Emergency Care, 6(2), S52–S56. doi:10.3109/10903120209102683

Spaite, D. W. (1993). Outcome analysis in EMS systems. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 22(8), 1310–1311. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(05)80113-1

Stiell, I. G., Nesbitt, L. P., Pickett, W., Munkley, D., Spaite, D. W., Banek, J., Field, B., … Wells, G. A., for the OPALS Study Group. (2008). The OPALS Major Trauma Study: impact of advanced life-support on survival and morbidity. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 178(9), 1141-1152. doi:10.1503/cmaj.071154

Strategic Planning: Strategies & Tactics

Seattle Children’s Hospital (2011, n.d.) was the first pediatric specialty care hospital founded west of the Mississippi River. Seattle Children’s Hospital, supported by the philanthropic efforts of the community, performs at the cutting-edge of pediatric medicine and research. With nearly 60 pediatric specialties and award-winning research faculty, Seattle Children’s Hospital presents expertise in the field of pediatric medicine.


Seattle Children’s Hospital (n.d.) is a pediatric specialty care center associated with the University of Washington to provide medical and surgical residents with the hands-on practical experience and education needed to succeed in the medical profession.

The hospital (Seattle Children’s Hospital, n.d.) has many specialized programs, or sub-specialties, within its pediatric specialty, including urgent and emergency care, oncology and hematology, craniofacial, orthopedic and sports medicine, a heart and transplant center, neonatology, neurosurgery, and general and thoracic surgery.

Seattle Children’s Hospital (n.d.) also boasts an award-winning research facility dedicated to treating and eliminating pediatric disease.

Strategic Planning

The strategic plan of Seattle Children’s Hospital (2011) focuses on the hospital’s vision and four specific goals:

  1. provide the safest, most effective care possible,

  2. control and reduce the cost of providing care,

  3. find cures and educate clinicians and researchers, and

  4. grow responsibly and provide access to every child who needs us (p. 2).

In order to succeed in reaching these goals, the hospital’s plan must have directives that outline the strategies and tactics useful in attaining the goals.


Strategy is the broad means directed towards attaining strategic goals. As Seattle Children’s Hospital’s (2011) strategic plan demonstrates, in order to achieve the means of providing the safest, most effective care possible, “[the hospital] will standardize our care processes and strengthen our systems to prevent and respond rapidly to medical errors” (p. 5). This strategy is broadly stated, provides direction, and acknowledges that failures may still occur, which allows for the provision of a secondary, or backup, strategy for response to these failures.


Tactics are the individual steps made within a strategy towards attaining a specific goal. Tactics should be moral, safe, efficient and effective towards the strategic goals. For instance, the strategy of “[standardizing] our care processes and [strengthening] our systems to prevent and respond rapidly to medical errors” (Seattle Children’s Hospital, 2011, p. 5) is well-stated, yet broad. In order to employ this strategy, tactics must be employed that are specific to meeting the described goal. In this case, Seattle Children’s Hospital (2011) has identified that “[completing] the transition to an electronic medical record system” (p. 5) is a specific means that can be used to help fulfill this particular strategy and meet the described goal.

Another tactic not presented in Seattle Children’s Hospital’s (2011) strategic plan but helpful in attaining the goal of improved patient safety and drawn from the strategy of “[standardizing] … care processes and [strengthening] … systems” (p. 5) would be the formation of an anonymous, voluntary self-reporting system in which a nurse or physician submits a card detailing a medical or surgical error in the spirit of identifying processes and systems in need of improvement.


Strategic plans are guided by strategic goals, and strategic goals can have many strategies that are employed and useful in meeting the stated goals. It is also true that a plethora of tactics can be employed for each strategy.

Strategic plans are often based on lofty, yet attainable, goals. In order to meet these goals, one must only ask a simple question: How? With each broad answer, a continuous and recursive series of How? can be used to work the strategy into a number of manageable tactics to use to reach that lofty goal.


Seattle Children’s Hospital. (2011). Shaping the future of pediatric healthcare: Strategic plan 2012 to 2016. Retrieved from http://www.seattlechildrens.org/pdf/strategic-plan-2012-2016.pdf

Seattle Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). About Seattle Children’s. Retrieved from http://www.seattlechildrens.org/about/

SWOT Analysis: Day Kimball Healthcare

Day Kimball Healthcare (DKH) is a non-profit health care organization serving the northeastern Connecticut, southcentral Massachusetts and northwestern Rhode Island communities. The mission of DKH (2011) is “to meet the health needs of our community through our core values of clinical quality, customer service, fiscal responsibility and local control” (para. 4). A comprehensive health care system, DKH offers primary care and a multitude of medical and surgical specialties along with sophisticated diagnostics by offering a comprehensive network of more than 1,000 employees including more than 200 physicians, surgeons and specialists. DKH is comprised of Day Kimball Hospital, four community health care centers, Day Kimball HomeCare, Day Kimball Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut, Day Kimball HomeMakers, and Physician Services of Northeast CT, LLC.


DKH provides a host of services to the community, including:

  • primary medical care,

  • emergency medical care,

  • surgical care,

  • palliative and hospice care,

  • home health care, and

  • social services

DKH appears to strive towards providing a comprehensive health care solution to the community that is robust, yet limited in specialty, especially critical care, trauma, and pediatric services.



The primary catchment area for DKH includes the Connecticut towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Eastford, Killingly, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Sterling, Thompson, and Woodstock, and the Rhode Island towns of Foster and Glocester. According to the available U.S. Census data (2010), the population served is nearly 92,000 with average growth in the last ten years of nearly 9%. The median age of the catchment population (37.8) is merely 3 months older than the median age of the Connecticut population (37.4). The median household income is $66,422 (CT: $67,034).


DKH is the primary health care provider within the defined catchment area. Some of the population, however, rely on three other community-level hospitals, Backus Hospital (Norwich, CT), Southbridge Hospital (Southbridge, MA), and Windham Hospital (Windham, CT). Additionally, some of the population with advanced disease processes rely strictly on the primary and emergency care services of the nearest urban centers (Worcester, MA, Hartford, CT, and Providence, RI), with many of DKH’s emergency patients transferred to these tertiary care centers for trauma, critical care, and pediatric specialties.


DKH, as a health care organization, can be adversely affected by patterns of infectious diseases within the community. As each season mounts, the health care system becomes overwhelmed and requires coordination between other health care facilities in the area.

Additionally, a large disaster would strain the resources of DKH; however, this would be a temporary issue, resolving as the disaster winds down. There is ample opportunity within the catchment area for a disaster to unfold, including traffic on the major highway that divides the catchment area as well as the number of large manufacturing entities in the area.


Strengths. DKH provides comprehensive long-term health care to community members. DKH enjoys a strong and comprehensive relationship with a large network of physicians and other primary care providers.

Weaknesses. DKH has no intensivists, physicians with expertise in critical care, and provides very limited critical care service. As a result, DKH must transfer many cases to other facilities to rule in or rule out critical illnesses or injuries, which negatively affects earnings.

Another weakness lies in DKH’s reliance on electronic patient care reporting. DKH uses a number of patient care reporting platforms that do not integrate with each other. This creates a need for over-redundancy and opportunities for patient care errors. Further, a fully integrated system would allow for health care partners to access up-to-date patient care information without delay.

Opportunities. Opportunities exist for DKH to expand their services by further decentralizing the current services offered and concentrating on which scopes of service to expand or improve upon. By improving laboratory reporting standards and facilitating full integration of patient reporting, patients of DKH will be able to obtain a more standardized level of care throughout the health care continuum.

DKH should cultivate their relationship with the public by being more active and visible within the community performing screenings, vaccinations, blood drives, as well as other public relations endeavors.

Another opportunity exists with the patient population who suffer from critical illness or injury that is yet to be determined. These patients face risk in transport to tertiary care centers when, often times, the transfer is unwarranted by later findings. By cultivating relationships with specialties in the tertiary care centers, these patients could be more fully determined to need (or, not need) transfer to tertiary care centers, keeping the financial reward of caring for patients in-house while obtaining specialist coordination.

Threats. The largest threat to DKH, as with any organization, is its reputation within the community. Funding, which is largely based on governmental and private insurance providers, is also a considerable threat that must be managed continuously. However, other threats are significant and can be actively managed.

Pandemics are unlikely to occur but present catastrophic scenarios if they do, indeed, occur. Pandemic influenza, as well as other pandemic diseases, presents a situation of an increasing need for awareness and preparation.

Unpredictable weather in the northeastern Connecticut presents a likely and significant threat to the provision of health care. Recent and historical storms have proven to impede access and egress to and from patients both out in the community and at the hospital.


This SWOT analysis is limited by the a posteriori knowledge and perceptions of the author, a paramedic who is active within the health care system, and it is limited in the scope of an academic exercise to practice SWOT analyses.

However, DKH has overcome many adversities in the past and continues to grow, but seemingly without proper direction. The efforts thus far seem disjointed and without a clear structure or coherent path into the future. DKH would benefit from an internal SWOT analysis that could be performed without the limitations inherent herein.


Day Kimball Healthcare. (2011). Day Kimball Healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.daykimball.org

U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). 2010 census data. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/

Human Resources & Challenges in Health Care

The function of human resources is not without its challenges and difficulties. No matter the industry or organization, acquiring and managing a pool of employees can be overwhelming (Thompson, 2012). Human resources managers in health care organizations seem to face more challenges than most. From nursing and physician shortages to attracting innovative and contemporary researchers, health care organizations seem to search within thinning pools of prospective employees, yet still demand the best and brightest (Keenan, 2003; Lewis, 2010; Thompson, 2012).

One of the most challenging issues to health care over the last few decades has been a significant nationwide nursing shortage (Keenan, 2003; Lewis, 2010). Thompson (2012) outlines both a declining skilled workforce and an increasing population contributing to the problem. Both Keenan (2003) and Lewis (2010) cite the aging babyboomer population adding to the increased need for nurses through 2020 and beyond. Novel human resources strategies can result in an augmented workforce designed to meet the continually growing impact these forces have on health care organizations, specifically those with emergency departments.

One novel strategy includes consideration of other highly-skilled clinicians that do not traditionally work in hospitals. As Oglesby (2007) considers the possibility, paramedics are, by far, one of the best examples. By introducing paramedics into the emergency department, a hospital can redistribute the nurses to clinical areas more suited towards their training, decrease the patient-to-nurse ratios (thereby increasing patient safety and maximizing outcomes), and tap into a new pool of prospective employees that are well-suited to rise to the stressful demands of the emergency department (Keenan, 2003; Swain, Hoyle, & Long, 2010). Additionally, organizations employing paramedics can augment both their emergency department operations and home health care operations by sending paramedics to certain patients to mitigate their complaints and minimize the number of inappropriate patient transports to the emergency department (Swain, Hoyle, & Long, 2010). This alone would decrease emergency department overcrowding and maximize revenue and efficiency in the delivery of care. Additionally, turn-over rates should be significantly lower with a more productive work environment where stress is managed, outcomes are met, and patients are care for more effectively.

In conclusion, intelligent and novel planning of the workforce can, itself, lead to increases in recruitment and retention; however, efforts still need to focus on each individually in order to attract, maintain, and develop a first-class workforce (Thompson, 2012).


Keenan, P. (2003). The nursing workforce shortage: causes, consequences, proposed solutions (Issue brief #619). The Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved from http://mobile.commonwealthfund.org/

Lewis, L. (2010). Oregon takes the lead in addressing the nursing shortage: A collaborative effort to recruit and educate nurses. American Journal of Nursing, 110(3), 51-54. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000368955.26377.e1

Oglesby, R. (2007). Recruitment and retention benefits of EMT—Paramedic utilization during ED nursing shortages. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 33(1), 21-25. doi:10.1016/j.jen.2006.10.009

Swain, A. H., Hoyle, S. R., & Long, A. W. (2010). The changing face of prehospital care in New Zealand: the role of extended care paramedics. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 123(1309), 11-14. Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/

Thompson, J. M. (2012). The strategic management of human resources. In S. B. Buckbinder & N. H. Shanks, Introduction to Healthcare Management (Custom ed.; pp. 81-118). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Prior Proper Planning …

… Prevents Poor Performance

I am in the midst of planning an ad hoc merger of a number of local emergency medical service agencies into a single regional provider to reduce overall costs while maximizing revenue, improve training and the delivery of care, and to streamline the operational processes that support our providers in the field. Unfortunately, I have found that there are many obstacles that need to be dealt with at every step before moving on to the next. My research has certainly opened my eyes to developing a useful approach to these problems.

Planning “[provides] the appropriate focus and direction for … organizations” (Zuckerman, 2006, p. 3). Without planning, organizations risk stagnation and obsolescence. For any organization to succeed (and continue to do so), the strategy needs to focus both on the contemporary traditional needs as well as those anticipated in the future, but this focus needs to be comprehensive. Bartling (1997) writes of 25 different pitfalls any health care organization might face when considering strategic planning. These 25 pitfalls are just some of the issues I hope to avoid.

One of the largest difficulties in planning for emergency medical systems, however, is the sense of ‘fiefdom’, or an assertion of organizational ownership — in a truly feudal sense. A fiefdom is a literal power trip. In this area, there are 10 towns with an average of two ambulances each, and each department’s administration will fight tooth and nail to keep the organization from outgrowing them. What is interesting about the area is that many of the members of one department work for at least two of the other departments, also. This is because the pay is so meager they have to work as many hours as possible, and there is no chance of working more than 32 hours at any one service in any given week. The pay is low as is the quality of care. This needs to change, but how do I create an amalgumated organization from the bits and pieces that I have to work with? Add to that my lack of formal authority in this process. My vision is to reduce the number of ambulances by staffing eight ambulances at all times and tactically positioning them around the region. This alone would create 48 well-paid jobs, using the same 40 people who currently job share across organizational lines.

In reviewing the available resources, I have learned that there is no particular process or flow-chart pathway to effective planning (Bartling, 1997; Begun & Kaissi, 2005; Zuckerman, 2006). Critical forward thinking is needed, instead. Some of the particular issues that Bartling (1997) discusses and I foresee might be particular to my planning process are: inadequate planning, short-sightedness, underestimating the complexity of the process, post-merger angst, analysis paralysis, and lack of evaluative criteria, to name a few. Politics plays a large role in many of these issues I mention.

Inadequate planning, short-sightedness, and a lack of evaluative criteria are closely related. I see in the present that the system does not work as well as it should (short-sightedness), and I want to develop a plan that can be implemented immediately (probably suffering inadequate planning). This would leave me with a fragmented system devoid of vision and, therefore, crippled from improving (lacking that evaluative criteria). These are pitfalls that I need to avoid. These issues would give rise to the others dooming my effort to failure and, possibly, leaving the system in even worse shape than it began.

Perhaps, my only chance of fulfilling this process is to first perform a limited situational assessment by identifying the mission, vision, and values of all of the stakeholders and show how a streamlined process can better fulfill their visions (Casciani, 2012). By gaining stakeholder support, I might better leverage my idea against those who fear change.


Bartling, A. (1997). 25 pitfalls of strategic planning. Healthcare Executive, 12(5), 20–23.

Begun, J. & Kaissi, A. (2005). An exploratory study of healthcare strategic planning in two metropolitan areas. Journal of Healthcare Management, 50(4), 264–274.

Casciani, S. J. (2012). Strategic planning. In S. B. Buckbinder & N. H. Shanks (Eds.), Introduction to healthcare management (Custom ed.; pp. 3-23). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Zuckerman, A. (2006). Advancing the state of the art in healthcare strategic planning. Frontiers of Health Services Management, 23(2), 3–15.

Health Care Quality and Safety

Health care is a service devoted, by definition, to those who are vulnerable. People seek out health-related services during stressful times and may be easily swayed into trying less than effective methods, even ‘snake oil’ remedies, for treating their ails and pain. This being the case, the health care provider has a moral obligation to advocate for the patient. Advocacy entails considering only what is in the best interest of others, even to the detriment of one’s self. Patient advocacy helps to ensure both health care quality and safety. The Institute of Medicine defines health care as “[the] degree to which health services for individuals or populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with the current professional knowledge” (as cited in Savage & Williams, 2012, p. 26). Savage and Williams (2012) discuss the importance of effective and efficient delivery of health care, which means avoiding overuse (providing services to those who will least benefit) and underuse (failing to provide services to those that would benefit) stating, “quality is important in health care because there are limited resources to improve the health of both individuals and the population as a whole” (p. 72).

According to Savage and Williams (2012), all stakeholders are affected by the level of quality in health care. From a patient’s perspective, health care delivery should be aimed at addressing the patient’s problem with the least invasive, yet most effective, therapy possible. Delivering health care is a high-risk endeavor that focuses the risk towards the patient, potentially causing harm and great suffering. The provider, driven by the desire to help without harming, would benefit greatly by the development of ‘best practices’, or evidence-based practice, in order to help the most people with the available resources. Additionally, providers wish to be paid a fair rate in exchange for the services performed, and this can only occur in an efficient system with little waste to impact revenue. On the other hand, third-party payors, the most prolific purchasers of health care, demand the most effective and efficient services in return for their payment in order to control the costs of their own services. Third-party payors, like Medicare, Blue Cross, and others, have such a large client base that they are able to effectively negotiate health care services for lower rates.

As a health care manager, it is increasingly important to ensure quality and safety in the delivery of health services. Medical malpractice litigation, according to Savage and Williams (2012), is costly to practitioners and organizations, even though it does little to deter poor quality. Rather than relying on the courts to make forceful recommendations, an effective manager can use tools already available to promote best practice within their organization. For instance, continuous quality improvement (CQI) programs promote systematic, data-driven process improvements focused by the customer’s perceptions. CQI can uncover interferring processes and can make modest to significant improvements that can indirectly improve other, linear processes, thereby, making greater improvements, overall.


Savage, G. T. & Williams, E. S. (2012). Performance improvement in health care: The quest to achieve quality. In S. B. Buckbinder, N. H. Shanks, & C. R. McConnell (Eds.), Introduction to healthcare management (Custom ed.; pp. 25-79). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.