Creating Your Post-Pandemic Operating Budget
For some of us, it is the season of building budgets for the next fiscal year, depending on when your fiscal year begins. Whether you are new to the role of creating a budget or an old hat, I hope this primer will be helpful.
Capital budget requests are usually made prior to creating your operating budget, and they consist of items you will need to purchase only once every few years, such as monitoring equipment, computers, a video system, etc. Capital items usually have a cap amount, such as items over $5,000. Anything costing less than that would usually be considered an operating budget request. If you miss the cutoff deadline to submit these, or if equipment breaks mid-year, then some departments have contingency funds available to use for these purposes; or, your biomed department — if you are located within a hospital system — may pay for these repairs or replacements.
Operating budgets are the month-to-month budget used to run the sleep laboratory. They consist of volume, revenue, and labor and non-labor costs.
Within the operating budget, you must estimate what your volumes are going to be for the next fiscal year. I always recommend being conservative with this number and take into consideration sick days, vacations and holidays.
Many of us have experienced a severe decline in volume because of the pandemic, so it may be difficult to determine when the volumes will return to pre-COVID-19 levels. You can look at historical data from previous years, and review percentage changes from year to year to help you estimate future volumes. Also consider how many beds, technologists and physicians you have. Review study referral patterns and sources. If you have a work queue that your staff uses to schedule referred patients for sleep studies, look at those patterns before and after COVID-19 to help make decisions on your operating volumes.
To learn more about post-pandemic budgets, read the full article in the 2021 Q2 issue of A2Zzz.
About Kimberly Trotter, MA, RPSGT, FAAST
Kimberly Trotter, MA, RPSGT, began her sleep career while completing her master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in behavioral sleep research. She started as a clinical sleep technologist, conducting sleep disorders testing in a sleep disorders center, and has been in the field of sleep for over 30 years. Over the years, she has published and presented sleep research, created and taught insomnia classes, coordinated support groups for sleep apnea sufferers, presented educational talks on sleep and health to the public, written numerous articles on sleep, taught sleep disorders medicine to future technologists and physicians, and accredited two sleep disorders centers. She served on the AAST Board of Directors from 1996-1998, was the 1999 recipient of the Carskadon Research Award, and the 2006 recipient of the Allen DeVilbiss Literary Award. She is currently the administrative director of the University of California San Francisco Adult and Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center, AAST Ethics Committee member, founding member of the California Sleep Society, adjunct professor at Skyline College and has a very active support group for sleep apnea sufferers.