process improvement

Engaging in Process Improvement & Organizational Transformation Prior to a Revenue Cycle System Implementation

In today’s healthcare environment, it is no longer as simple as designing, building, testing and going live on a new revenue cycle system (not that that is simple in and of itself), it is assessing and transforming all of the processes and structures impacted by it. Building the old Three-Legged Stool of People, Processes and Technology.

Having led multiple business and process transformations, I have found that the ideal time to begin this journey is a couple of months prior to the vendor implementation kickoff; this is true whether it is internal client resources, an outside consultant or a vendor team performing what amounts to an additional project. This allows time for a multitude of actions to take place and benefits to be reaped.

One, it gives you the opportunity to really understand what the current state of your business is, what is working well currently and where efficiencies can be made.

Second, this deep dive provides a good look at the skills of your resources and where they might be a better fit in a new structure. Much like in sports, putting a person in a position and system that is more suited to their skills as opposed to forcing a square block into a round hole can result in increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Third, without a doubt, during the system selection and SOW processes, specific KPIs and goals surrounding those metrics were identified as key reasons for a new system and areas of needed improvement. Early stage process and business transformation planning provides a more clarifying look into these metrics, what workflows are causing a certain metric to be lagging or shining.  This also provides the opportunity to shape your future state workflows and structure around the new system.

Fourth, you will engage all of the affected organizational entities and provide them a good understanding, or reinforcement, of why the change is taking place and what to expect during the implementation. It opens an avenue of communication that allows for shared goals to be made, demonstrate how it will bring value to not only their individual roles but to the organization’s overall goals and mission, this cultivates trust and project buy in to occur.

Fifth, it lays out a roadmap of recommendations to the future state of your processes and organizational structure and actions that need to occur throughout the system implementation; as well as a more immediate foundation for the revenue cycle system design about to take place.

Altogether, getting started with process and organizational transformation ahead of the system implementation alleviates having to perform this separate project concurrent to the system implementation. This will reduce stress and additional potential unknowns to pop up.  The implementation team of resources will be under an immense amount of pressure to design, build, test and go live with a new revenue cycle system.  Although the roadmap has been set prior to the implementation kickoff, implementing these decisions still must happen throughout project, but again, you are not gathering documentation and making decisions at the same time.

One other major benefit that is often overlooked is the cutover and post go-live need for a large amount of optimization. Upon cutover, you will see a smoother transition with less impact to metrics (A/R, cash, denials, etc.). Instead of reacting to the change in systems, you have anticipated them and put effective changes in place ahead of time.  No doubt you will need to perform health checks which will result in system and structure tweaks.  What getting your transformation started early and completed with the implementation accomplishes, is to exponentially decrease the post go live optimization needs.  Smaller adjustments as opposed to brand new committees, additional resource time, project ramp up, stress and of course dollars spent.

A couple of final thoughts that will be keys to making a process and business office transformation successful. Draw upon your well of knowledge and experience and relay specific examples of where you have seen this work; as importantly, really attempt to make a personal connection to the individual or groups you are communicating with.  Trust is a very big deal, change is difficult and for many people, scary.  Have a plan going in and execute it, work hard, take what you are doing seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.