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The Costs of Not Investing in Your EVS Department

While EVS departments don’t generate revenue, they are key to the success of revenue-generating departments. When hospitals look to decrease overhead, EVS departments— with the second largest number of people in the organization—are often first on the list. But, if you don’t invest in your EVS department, it will cost your hospital—in profitability, reputation, and patient safety.

Why Cutting EVS People Might Actually Increase Costs

Labor is the most expensive line item in any EVS budget, which means people in the EVS department are often targets for cost cutting. The problem with this tactic is what seems like a small labor cut can have a large impact on quality and destroy hard-won efficiencies.

"What seems like a small labor cut can have a large impact on quality and destroy hard-won efficiencies." - Shawn Wright, Principal at Smart Facility Software
There are three distinct ways reducing people can increase the cost of running an EVS department.

Cost 1: Paying Employees Overtime

When you reduce people, you need to plan workload reduction in order to avoid incurring overtime. Decisions will have to be made about which cleaning frequencies will be reduced and which areas will get a reduced level of clean. Failure to plan for a reduced workload will inevitably increase overtime costs.

A disadvantage with overtime is you are paying a tired employee time and a half.

Cost 2: Poor Employee Morale

One of the sneakiest, but often greatest, indirect costs of staffing cuts is the negative impact on employee satisfaction. As employee morale falls, the disgruntled attitude of employees becomes a ripple effect throughout the hospital. The last thing you want is the second largest workforce in your hospital to become your biggest critic, which can trickle all the way down to patients and visitors. Poor morale contributes to poor performance, and if not addressed, a high turnover rate—both resulting in reduced productivity.

Cost 3: High Employee Turnover

Experienced employees are the backbone of a successful EVS department.

Experienced employees are the backbone of a successful EVS department—they understand the hospital, the technical aspects of their work and more readily achieve high quality standards. When you cut staff, overworked and frustrated employees seek out a better work environment.

Increased turnover rates lead to higher management costs for hiring and onboarding new employees. Time that was once spent on productivity by experienced employees becomes time spent training and ramping up to previous performance levels.

"The cost of replacing an experienced ES employee can average as much as one-and-a-half times the year's salary for that position." - Patty Costello, HFM Magazine
Not only does this increase costs for the EVS department; it also increases the workload for other hospital departments: HR, Finance, and Security.

When EVS Departments Suffer, Hospital Profitability Suffers

EVS is an essential function at every medical facility. Without a properly staffed and productive EVS department, hospital costs increase rapidly.

There are three primary costs of not investing in your EVS department that directly impact hospital profitability.

Cost 1: Slower Patient Turnover

The most important work for an EVS Department is providing clean, infection-free bed space in a timely manner. Failure to do this results in lost revenue for the Hospital. This directly affects the rate at which hospitals serve patients. When patient rooms sit empty waiting for a short-staffed EVS team to clean the room, new patients can’t be seen and revenue is lost. Patients who experience excessive wait times will negatively affect your HCAHPS scores.

Poor patient throughput in the emergency department reduces the amount of revenue generated by this highly-staffed and high-margin department. As most hospitals run at a full census these days, slow bed turnover will directly affect the hospital’s bottom line.

Cost 2: Negative Reputation and Reduced Market Share

A small but insidious cost to hospitals with understaffed or overworked EVS departments is the negative impact on reputation. When you cut ES staff, you end up cutting corners—reducing cleaning frequencies and levels of cleanliness.

Multiple studies and patient surveys have proven patients’ perceptions of hospital cleanliness majorly impact their overall perception of care and their hospital experience. Facilities that appear unsanitary are viewed as unsafe, resulting in patients who take their business to a facility they believe they can trust. Not only does it erode the hospital’s word-of-mouth reputation; it also affects HCAHPS scores—which are publicly reported and impact government reimbursement.

Cost 3: Increase in Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)

The EVS Department plays a critical role in reducing HAIs, which affect 1.7 million patients and cost U.S. Hospitals over $35 billion annually.

The EVS department plays a critical role in reducing HAIs, which affect 1.7 million patients and cost U.S. hospitals over $35 billion annually. More importantly, these infections lead to approximately 98,900 deaths every year.

While EVS departments can’t control the human transfer of pathogens, they can significantly reduce the impact of the environmental spread of HAIs. If hospitals start viewing EVS technicians as Infection Control Specialists, hospitals can go from clean to sterile.

Investing in EVS staffing helps maintain a safe, comprehensive, unfaltering level of clean that protects patients, visitors, and hospital staff.

ES Optimizer Calculates Staffing Levels and Optimizes Work Assignments

Investing in the right number of EVS staff is key to avoiding common pitfalls that negatively impact your EVS department’s effectiveness and the profitability of your hospital. However, investing doesn’t always mean increasing headcount. It does, however, mean knowing the exact number of people you need to keep your hospital not only looking clean, but infection-free as well.

An EVS department performs hundreds of 1,000s of tasks every year. Getting a complete understanding of EVS department needs requires comprehensive ES Technology like ES Optimizer. With this technology you’ll understand the full scope of EVS responsibilities.

Here’s an example of some of one hospital’s facility and cleaning data readily available and usable in the ES Optimizer database after an on-site survey by the Smart Facility Software team:

  • 12 Buildings
  • 122 Floors
  • 529 Subsections
  • 8,200 Rooms, Stairwells, Entrances, Elevators, and Corridors
  • 1,760,565 Cleanable Sq. Ft.
  • 9,807 Daily Cleaning Tasks to be Performed 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 18, and 21 Times per Week
  • 26,295 Project Work Cleaning Tasks to be Performed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, and 26 Times per Year

Having this kind of data at your fingertips is necessary for an accurate headcount. An inventoried Hospital in the right EVS software system also has the power to optimize your workflow, side-stepping the avoidable costs of not investing in your Environmental Services Department.

Once you have the right number of people doing the right thing at the right time in the right place, your Environmental Services Department performance will show provable progress.

Real-World Case Study of EVS Software in Action

ES Optimizer users know their hospital is clean and their department is running as efficiently as possible. The results they see from using our ES Technology save time, and therefore money, while improving patient/visitor experience.

See the measurable impact our clients experience using ES Optimizer.

Woman’s Hospital – Baton Rouge

ES Optimizer’s staffing models showed the ES Director that he had three extra Full-Time Employees (FTEs) on staff, allowing him to staff a new building without hiring additional FTEs. It also dramatically impacted his employee’s happiness and job satisfaction by making sure work assignments are equitable.

If you’re ready to see measurable results at your medical facility, request a free demo of ES Optimizer or reach out to me directly at or call us at 800-260-8665.

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