Historically, healthcare organizations have been limited by what their in-house ‘copier center’ could produce, with many opting instead to contract with third-party vendors to create the communication materials required to support their myriad audiences. Fortunately, things are changing.
Today’s healthcare print service departments, or in-plants, are wholly focused on supporting the core business: healthcare. All activities stem from and contribute to this critical mission, including timely, relevant communications with associates, partners, internal customers, existing patients and potential new patients.
Modern healthcare organizations are reimagining and transforming their print service departments to bring the full scope of projects typically sourced off-site back in-house. The ability to produce materials internally not only cuts significant costs; it also increases efficiency, cultivates people, produces organizational self-sufficiency and contributes to a more fulfilling experience for all parties involved.
Here are some critical ways your healthcare in-plant contributes to your organizational mission.
As healthcare organizations increasingly look in-house to produce the breadth of materials that comprise a fully integrated communications campaign, the opportunity to reduce spend without compromising audience experience or quality is paramount. Emerging technologies like predictive analytics and artificial intelligence have sophisticated to the point where they can help in-plants identify cost savings, recognize redundant and interdependent activities, and minimize production waste – drastically increasing a project’s efficiency rate.
For example, at CHRISTUS Health Print Services, we moved to a new facility and upgraded technology, doubling in size to turn jobs faster and take on more work at reduced costs. Ricoh’s advanced technologies and use of predictive analytics uncovered the benefits of automation, streamlining workflows, and utilizing a centralized print production center. The result? 26 to 31 percent cost savings to our interdepartmental customers compared to external vendors and combined print and mail processing cost savings of more than 35 percent—plus expansion into new applications, greater customer reach and increased patient engagement.
As an organization’s in-plant grows so do opportunities to enhance recruitment, increase retention and promote upskilling as associates learn the new technologies, services and processes introduced. For example, introducing wide format printing at CHRISTUS Health Print Services enabled some of our associates to expand their skills and move into the creative manufacturing process. This ability to upskill and transition among different areas of the print shop is not only tremendously beneficial from an operational perspective, it also positively impacts associate attraction and retention.
In addition to making the organization more self-sufficient at a lower cost, investing in internal printing capabilities can minimize or eliminate the need to outsource work to third-party vendors. Producing entire projects in-house, rather than piecemealing among multiple vendors, also helps ensure holistic oversight of regulatory compliance and data security, which is particularly important when developing and distributing highly personalized, confidential information.
In-house production can also help eliminate organizational silos, reduce redundances and identify interdependent activities throughout the organization, connecting all aspects of the organization’s document output ecosystem for increased process standardization, interoperability and efficiency.
While the goal of a healthcare in-plant is to provide top-notch in-house support, it’s beneficial when it can also in-source work to offset the investment made in the operation and further push the organization mission. For example, we had the opportunity and capacity to produce work for associates and our donor community. The income from this project and others helped offset some investments we wanted to make for healthcare that we may not have otherwise been able to do without that outside work.
Healthcare organizations that invest in their in-plant’s e-commerce presence can also differentiate themselves and grow business. Case in point: CHRISTUS Health Print Services transitioned from servicing 5,000 associates internally to 30,000 by introducing an online e-commerce system. This virtual storefront enables users to submit jobs online simply and easily, furthering an in-plant’s value to the organization and ability to fulfill its mission.
Even if your current approach to producing communication deliverables using outside vendors or your existing print service department meets minimum job requirements, investing in your in-plant can pay dividends. Healthcare solution providers that do so introduce new opportunities to expand business, boost efficiency, cultivate people and cut costs—all of which contribute to the organizational mission.
The author, Del Shankle, is the Director of Marketing Operations – Print Services for CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System. Del has over two decades of successful Healthcare marketing experience with a focus in customer service, negotiation, sales, and strategic planning.