As a manager in an intensive care unit (ICU), high demand or the services may necessitate an expansion of the facility to accommodate all cases brought forward. However, such an expansion is constrained by the resources available. Therefore, the manager can use the concept of resource planning to help free up enough resources for expansion. In the case scenario provided, resource planning techniques can be used to help identify key resources, redundant areas, and plan for such aspects as resource sharing. The term ‘resource planning can be defined as the process through which business resources are identified, forecasted, and allocated to projects taking into consideration both time and cost (Yesodharan and Mansinghka, 2021). The idea behind resource planning is to achieve efficiency in the utilization of resources so that the excess can be deployed elsewhere.
In healthcare settings, several strategies are deployed in the process of resource planning. According to Fattahi, Kevyanshokooh, and Govindah (2022), integrated healthcare resources allocation and sharing is a strategy used to improve health systems’ response to sharp rises in demand. In times of pandemics and epidemics, demand for such resources as ICU means that an organization has to immediately make resources available to handle the excess capacity. Integrated healthcare resource allocation is a strategy that can work in the case scenario, where the first goal is to identify the type of patients and resources, as well as the minimum capacity extension needed.
In the case scenario, the first step in resource planning would be to identify the key resources. In an ICU, one can expect that care equipment and beds form part of the major resources deployed by the hospital. Examples of equipment include ventilators, ICU bed monitors, clinical information systems, breathing support, syringe driver/pump, and intravenous fusion pumps. After identifying the key resources, the ICU manager can consider those that are shared and those that can serve only one patient. Shared resources can allow more scalability in the unit, but they can also have upper limits in terms of the number of patients they can serve. The second step would be to forecast the demand for the ICU resources. The purpose of this activity is to compare the resource demand against the current capacity and determine if there is a shortage or an excess (Yesodharan and Mansinghka, 2021). In many cases, the current capacities are determined by the resources that availed to the ICU units. For example, if there are only 10 beds, it means that the facility can only admit 10 patients at a time.
The third item on the to-do list for the ICU manager would be to determine the possible capacity extension with the current resources. Such a decision can be based on the extra capacity for the shared resources and other resources that are currently not in use. Idle equipment and extra room spaces are taken into consideration. Additionally, some strategies can be applied in this course, including the containment strategy and control and mitigation as discussed by Fattahi et al. (2022). However, the most important point to consider is the current scalability potential without adding new resources. The next step would consider how much of the rising demand can be met with the current resource, as well as how much more resources are needed to successfully handle all the demand. It may not be possible to fulfill all the demand, especially where expensive investments in the capital are needed. However, the expansion will depend on how much of the current resources can be released and how much capital investments are availed by the organization for the expansion.
Overall, resource planning is a concept critically used in project management to help improve efficiency in the use of resources. In the ICU expansion case scenario, strategies in this concept can prove vital when deployed effectively. Resource planning can be used to estimate the demand and available resources. After achieving efficiency, the saved resources are used for the expansion project, after which additional investments can be made as can be afforded by the organization. The basic idea is that resource planning is used to estimate the possible capacity extension with improved efficiency in resource use and allocation.
Sources of Funding
Financing ICU expansion will require capital investments in the form of equipment and finances. Even the equipment will have to be purchased, which means that accessing the funds becomes the most pressing need for the manager. In many cases, hospital expansions use the funds allocated to them by the organizations themselves. Since the ICU is a single department, it can be assumed that the first place to look for funds is the management. Corporate policymakers often tend to consider both long-term and short-term funding requirements and reimbursements in terms of an emergency (Williams et al., 2020, p. 1). However, even the policymakers may not avail all the funds needed. Two additional sources of funding can be explored, including government finance and donations from individuals, corporations, and other non-governmental organizations.
As an ICU manager, the first source of funds to consider is the hospital itself, which means approaching the executives with the fund requests. This alternative is based on the assumption that the policymakers have a structure in place that allows any branch to access funds in times of emergency. However, many hospitals often raise funds from the revenues generated, including the public hospitals. Public-funded hospitals will also have a budget for all branches, which means that there is a possibility of an internal pool of finances. Additionally, asking the executives for funds means they can devise better plans for the acquisition of money. The basic assumption in this case scenario is that an ICU manager is the one considering the financing options. The funds allocated to the ICU for other uses may also be repurposed for the ICU expansion.
The main drawback of this funding source is that only limited funds can be accessed. Hospitals may be operating on limited budgets, which are often planned for annually. Additionally, times of crisis mean that all departments are in urgent need of funds, which further limits the accessibility. In ordinary circumstances, the ICU manager will have to contend with what the hospital can manage to allocate to the expansion of the ICU.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments across the world to implement multiple measures to help address the crisis. One of the approaches used was to devise strategies to help the healthcare system ease the financial burden it faced. The government has made funds available, which have been approved by states, congress, and even the president’s office (Ochieng et al., 2022). The ICU manager can find a means of accessing the grants offered to care providers by the government. In this case, the executive would understand that the pandemic necessitates greater ICU capacity, where most of the patients are admitted. Therefore, the ICU should be a priority when finances are needed.
Using the resource planning techniques, the ICU manager can create a presentation outlining how much demand is currently experienced and expected, the current capacity, the desired capacity, and the finances needed to expand to the desired capacity. Every organization may have a specified share of government funds, but it remains one of the most reliable sources that the ICU manager can explore. The downside is that even the government can feel overwhelmed by the pandemic and the funds available for care providers may still be inadequate.
The third source of funds that the ICU manager can explore is donations from several sources. In times of pandemics, some well-wishers are willing to donate money to a justifiable cause. Business organizations keen on pursuing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals can offer financial support to hospitals. The ICU manager should ask for help from the executive to try and search for willing businesses to donate. Other organizations include charitable firms and NGOs, most of which have vast resources that can be dedicated to helping people in times of crisis. Donations from these organizations can prove critical since most of them are established for such purposes. Many hospitals across the country have established programs that solicit donations from the public. The ICU manager should develop a similar program if the hospital lacks one. In addition to funds, the donations can also be in the form of other items that the hospital needs for the expansion and which would require capital investments. Examples include hospital beds, ventilators, and other ICU equipment.
The expansion of the ICU can be conceptualized as an organizational project that requires the application of the major project management principles, processes, and approaches. The concept of project management entails methods, processes, knowledge, skills, and experience deployed in the pursuit of specific project objectives. According to Aaltola (2017, p. 13), a project can be defined as an endeavor when people organize human, capital, and financial resources to undertake a scope of work within the constraints of time and cost. In this case, the ICU expansion is a project where individuals will require funds and capital in the form of equipment to accomplish the task of extending the capacity of the ICU. Within this context, the main concern for the ICU manager is to free up resources that can be used for expansion. Therefore, this section will explore how the project management concept can be used in this regard.
The most important elements of the project management that can be used in the ICU expansion are the project life cycle phases. These are initiative, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closing (Aaltola, 2017, p. 17). The ICU project will take place in different phases, where each of them requires a set of activities. The first phase is project initiation, which entails offering an overview of the project and the strategies used to accomplish the goals. It is also the phase where feasibility is assessed after understanding the project needs and requirements. The ICU manager can begin with a feasibility assessment for the short-, medium-, and long-term. The feasibility depends on both the extent to which the demand keeps rising, the length of time that the pandemic persists, and the resources needed for the project. In the context of resource planning, the ICU manager can begin with estimating how much money and other resources the project needs before labeling it as feasible.
The second phase of project management is planning, which is also the stage where most of the efforts in resource planning will take place. Planning entails defining objectives and developing a project plan. According to Brown (2021), a project plan is a blueprint that covers the whole project, including design and a list of activities. Constraints, timeframes, risks, and dependencies are also outlined in the project plan. In the context of resource planning, a project plan should be the ideal tool to use since it makes it possible for the manager to identify the resource needed to accomplish the project. The rationale is that the plan outlines the list of activities to be done, which may include the purchase and implementation of equipment. The activities will have a cost implication, which should be used in developing a resource plan.
Another critical activity in project planning is developing a resource plan. In the plan, the ICU manager provided all relevant information about the specific resources necessary to accomplish the project. Labor and materials are the main cost centers, which means that the ICU manager will require project management skills to effectively develop these estimates. However, a resource plan only focuses on what is needed, which means that it does not help to fully accomplish the function of resource planning. As defined earlier, resource planning involves other activities, including identifying the resources, forecasting, and allocating resources to projects (Fattahi et al., 2022). Therefore, the ICU manager may accomplish these elements through a budget estimation, a financial plan that sets the budget. Even this activity will focus mostly on what resources are gathered, which means that the ICU manager will need to go out of the way to determine how much of the budget can be covered by the freed-up resources. A resource management plan may also be developed at this stage to cover such elements as resource identification, cost assessment, resource availability, and project responsibilities (Cohen, 2020).
Another critical activity is gathering the resources for the project before the execution phase can commence. Execution or implementation is only possible if all the resources have been gathered. This activity requires that all the items on the budget estimate are availed. The budget estimate may not outline where the resources come from. In project management, a general presumption is that the project owner provides everything needed for the project. In this case, the hospital can be regarded as the project owner, while the ICU department is in charge of the project and its management. At this stage, resource planning will help provide some of the resources needed for the ICU expansion. As explained earlier, resource planning proves beneficial since it makes it possible to free up resources that can be re-allocated to a project. The ICU mostly requires beds and a space for them. Therefore, facilities will be a key part of the requirements, which means that the ICU manager can be by exploring how much space can be freed up to accommodate more beds.
In this case, a collaboration with other departments may be necessary, especially considering that the rising demand may not be a long-term situation. Arrangements to free up space will most likely be short- and medium-term. The rationale is that the pandemic will most likely go away soon and the hospital can go back to operating within the normal capacity. Those departments where the demand for services is not as high may be required to free up some space and, if possible other equipment. Most importantly, labor has been regarded as part of the project resources (Brown, 2021). Rising demand in the ICU department means that more physicians and nurses will be required. Where possible, some of the labor can be sourced from other departments, also following the criteria that those not in high demand can help in the ICU. Reallocation of personnel will be the priority before more recruitment can be done externally.
Another consideration when providing resources is the ICU equipment currently available in the hospital. The ICU manager will need to determine how much of these resources and equipment can be freed up before deciding to purchase others. Those resources that be shared will also make it possible for the ICU to avail new capacities without additional procurement. Therefore, it can be understood that the planning phase of project management is where resource planning is implemented. With the focus being on freeing up resources, project planning will require the project manager to make the right decisions on the estimates and forecasts, as well as resource reallocation.
The other phases of the project manager may have little input into the resource planning efforts. For example, the execution phase is where the project plan is implemented by undertaking all the activities outlined in it. However, it is important to acknowledge that execution includes allocating resources to these activities, which could be interpreted as the final stages of the resource planning activity. In controlling and monitoring, further efforts in resource planning could be implemented. The argument is that some resource allocations decisions may not be necessarily correct and opportunities may emerge where further resources can be freed up and reallocated to more demanding areas of the project. Overall, a project manager has to address two key questions: how to deliver projects on time and how to remain within budget constraints (Dopson, 2021). Resource planning answers these questions by increasing utilization rates, efficiency, tracking capacity, and keeping the budget on track.
In conclusion, the major concepts of project management can be deployed in resource planning to help the ICU manager free up resources for the expansion project. Most importantly, some of the activities in the project life cycle match those in resource planning. It has been expressed that project initiation and planning are the two phases where resource planning can be accomplished. In project planning, resource identification and requirement analysis outlined in the project plan can be used in a resource plan. Therefore, the principles of the project management process are critical for the ICU manager where the expansion exercise is regarded as a project.
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Ochieng, N. et al. (2022) Funding for health care providers during the pandemic: an update. Web.
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Yesodharan, S. & Mansinghka, A., 2021. What is resource planning and why is it important?. Web.