We’ve all been there. You're sitting in a meeting and someone brings up something your department is not excelling at right now. You look around, kind of embarrassed and acknowledge that yes, we know this is something we need to work on….it’s just been at the bottom of the list under projects A, B, and C. Everyone in the room looks at you sympathetically…because they are in the exact same boat, and they hope they’re not next in line to get called out.
Struggling with multiple, competing projects and optimizing areas that require re-work is a familiar theme in healthcare right now, and it rings true whether you’ve been live on your EHR for eight years or just switched to a new system three months ago.
Some areas get immediate attention and support from your C-suite because they are associated with federal or state funds. Meaningful Use standards, health information exchanges, and changing billing/coding standards aren’t hard to get behind because they are required. However, there are other workflows which, when optimized, can have long-term benefits, such as staff reduction, accreditation reporting, patient satisfaction and protection against legal action. These types of workflow changes, when done correctly, can yield significant results for your department (and I’m betting you already have a couple in mind).
So how do you take this workflow from a pain point to an efficient and effective process?
- Call it a project
It sounds simple enough, but the fact that you have named an effort a special project makes people think about it differently, be willing to dedicate time to it and know it’s a priority for you. You also need to have a timeline surrounding it – and it’s okay to say that it’s a year-long effort. Summer 2016 could be the start of the optimization of your entire Release of Information module (and that's okay).
- Get the right project leader (and sponsor)
A project doesn’t work without one person who’s ultimately responsible for it. Whether this person is internal to your organization or comes to you externally, you want to be sure this person can be both IT & project management-focused. Leading meetings, effective follow-up, building in the system, navigating your organization’s change management system and previewing new workflows to end-users requires a mix of many different skill sets. Your project leader needs to be capable of shepherding the project through all of the steps. Also, don't underestimate the importance of having an executive level team member who is both familiar with and publicly supports the high-level goals of this project.
- Reward the members of your team for this effort
No optimization project can move forward without a lot of effort and support from operational leaders. You know your managers will be spending time making decisions in meetings, testing out build, re-training their staff and maybe even leading efforts to work down all accounts/deficiencies, etc. in your system (along with their normal job duties). Highlighting their success to executives at your organization (i.e., giving them good PR) is a reward/recognition that doesn’t cost money. Also, harmonizing (a better word for standardizing) workflows at your various locations saves everyone time and headache in the future.
Optimization is just one of The Wilshire Group’s specialties, so whether you just want some guidance on jump-starting one of your needed projects or want to engage us to lead the effort, Wilshire is here to help!