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Last week on this Blog, I wrote about three elements that are critically important for fostering organizationwide commitment to development of an effective accountable care organization (ACO). Briefly, these elements are:
I noted that these elements can help promote continued care accountability, clinical care quality improvement, and an overall environment of standardization that results in significant cost containment. These three elements warrant a more detailed discussion, including consideration of risks involved with not having these three elements well established.
The willingness of top management to actively enforce the strategic vision is essential to a successful ACO implementation. As I noted previously, executive-level commitment provides direction and sets specific outcome expectations across the organization, including among lower level managers. It also engages senior physician leaders in structuring and reviewing improvements in quality of care. The nature of a large scale ACO implementation naturally involves executive leadership within the operations of the enterprise because it necessarily touches most of their areas of control.
Risks. Without executive support and guidance, an ACO project can lose focus and stakeholder support, which can cause the project to fall short of expected outcomes. In the absence of highly visible C-suite project support over the course of the project, two considerable risks are likely to become strikingly apparent.
First, misalignment of strategies at the highest executive levels can result in dissonance over the need for an integrated corporate organizational structure versus autonomy for individual facilities.
Second, even if the executive sponsor remains laser-focused on the objective, a few project stakeholders may begin to question their role both in the project and in the transformed organization and, as a result, only partially uphold their commitments. The lack of, or limited, stakeholder participation can result in significant project friction and noncompliance. The role of stakeholder buy-in should not be underestimated.
It also should be noted that, although these risks may seem obvious and important to address, the need for strong executive-level support and guidance can be all-too-easily overlooked at the project’s start if there is a perception that the executive sponsor’s span of control is appropriate and sufficient.
Engaging a project manager suited to this type of large-scale, multisite, multistakeholder project is one of the most critical components a successful ACO implementation. The skill set for this position is fairly unique; in addition to broad hands-on experience as an absolute essential, this individual should demonstrate the following qualifications:
Risk. If a qualified project manager is not engaged to lead the project, or if the project manager who is engaged has only limited operational experience, the project will be at risk from a potential lack of foresight in making the sound decisions necessary for success on these types of projects.
It may seem odd to talk about organizational patience, but we all have witnessed this need—repeatedly. Organizational patience, in this sense, hinges on having a common definition of the goal and an understanding of the commitments and resources necessary to achieve that goal.
Risks. There are two specific areas of risk posed by a lack of organization patience. The first is the risk that of waning interest and energy over the project’s duration—a year or more in many cases—due to the constant need for intensely repetitive work at a highly detailed level (e.g., comparing clinical cohorts at the level of drug and device, by procedure, by type of specialty, etc.). The second risk stems from the potential for political infighting. Again, it is a common characteristic of human nature for people to be satisfied only if they see their idea “win.” However, they are much more likely to encounter the friction of different, competing, ideas. This risk is exacerbated if the executive sponsor is disconnected or the organization is being smothered by an overabundance of political “issues.”
Many predictable roadblocks also can get in the way of the commitment required to maintain organization patience, including the political tensions that can cause stakeholders and sponsors to question their level of commitment. In some instances, team members may become disengaged if they come to perceive that the projects end goal may result in reorganization and position eliminations (e.g., Does the organization truly need people at every facility managing the same single master files set?) Long-term project team members and stakeholders who are expected to act on an official recommendation or decision, but see it as posing a risk that their positions might be eliminated, may act in a way that does not support the primary goal.
As healthcare organizations pursue enterprisewide projects in 2014 to create an environment for continued care accountability and clinical care quality improvements, they should clearly understand the risks they face if their projects lack the three key elements highlighted here. It is also important that they not underestimate the challenges that piloting significant change inevitably presents. Special attention should be given to helping stakeholders, particularly at the project resource level, embrace the new unified approaches to care delivery.
Chris Miller, MT (ASCP), MSSM, is Senior Delivery Manager and EACOE Enterprise Architect, CTG Health Solutions, Buffalo, N.Y.
Publication Date: Monday, March 31, 2014
TriMedx helps health systems control costs and uncover savings opportunities by optimizing the clinical engineering function.
Patient financial engagement is more challenging than ever – and more critical. With patient responsibility as a percentage of revenue on the rise, providers have seen their billing-related costs and accounts receivable levels increase. If increasing collection yield and reducing costs are a priority for your organization, the metrics outlined in this presentation will provide the framework you need to understand what’s working and what’s not, in order to guide your overall patient financial engagement initiatives and optimize results.
A leader from McKesson discusses how healthcare reform is forcing hospitals and health systems to take a different approach to capacity management and patient flow.
No two patients are the same. Each has a very personal healthcare experience, and each has distinct financial needs and preferences that have an impact on how, when and if they chose to pay their healthcare bill. It’s no longer effective to apply static billing techniques to solve the complex challenge of collecting balances from patients. The need to tailor financial conversations and payment options to individual needs and preferences is critical. This presentation provides 10 recommendations that will not only help you improve payment performance through a more tailored approach, but take control of rising collection costs.
Emad Rizk, MD, president and CEO of Accretive Health, discusses the uncertainty facing hospitals and the transitions affecting revenue cycle management.
This white paper, written by Apex Vice President of Solutions and Services, Carrie Romandine, discusses the importance of patient segmentation and messaging specifically related to the patient revenue cycle. Applying strategic messaging that is tailored to each patient type will not only better educate consumers on payment options specific to their billing needs, but it will maximize the amount collected before sending to collections. Further, targeted messaging should be applied across all points of patient interaction (i.e. point of service, customer service, patient statements) and analyzed regularly for maximized results.
Jim Bohnsack, vice president, solution & corporate development for Conifer Health Solutions, explains how the company helps healthcare providers leverage data to deliver better outcomes while optimizing reimbursement for all payment arrangements.
This white paper, written by Apex President Patrick Maurer, discusses methods to increase patient adoption of online payments. Providers are now seeking ways to incrementally collect more payments due from patients as well as speeding up the rate of collections. This white paper shows why patient-centric approaches to online payment portals are important complements to traditional provider-centric approaches.
Steve Scibetta, senior director of channel sales for Ontario Systems' healthcare product line, shares insights into effectively managing receivables.
Increased electronic engagement between healthcare providers and patients provides significant opportunities for improving revenue cycle metrics and encouraging patients to access EHRs. This article, written by Apex Founder and CEO Brian Kueppers, explores a number of strategies to create synergy between patient billing, online payment portals and electronic health record (EHR) software to realize a high ROI in speed to payment, patient satisfaction and portal adoption for meaningful use.
Elena White, vice president of risk, quality, and network solutions for Optum, discusses how healthcare providers can leverage data and technology as they enable risk in their organization.
Faced with a rising tide of bad debt, a large Southeastern healthcare system was seeing a sharp decline in net patient revenues. The need to improve collections was dire. By integrating critical tools and processes, the health system was able to increase online payments and improve its financial position. Taking a holistic approach increased overall collection yield by 10% while costs came down because the number of statements sent to patients fell by 10%, which equated to a $1.3M annualized improvement in patient cash over a six-month period. This case study explains how.
Somnia President and CEO Marc Koch, MD, MBA, explains how hospitals can drive transformative change in the perioperative experience for outstanding clinical and financial outcomes.
With the ICD10 deadline quickly approaching and daily responsibilities not slowing down, final preparations for October 1 require strategic prioritization and laser focus.
PMMC President Roger L. Shaul discusses the effects of healthcare reform on revenue cycle management and how PMMC's products help clients adapt to a changing financial environment.
Read how Gwinnett Medical Center provides clear connections to financial information, offers multiple payment options for patients, and gives onsite staff the ability to collect payments at multiple points throughout the care process.
Greg Burgess, Founder and Chief Product Officer at Burgess Group shares insights and opportunities for payment integrity in the rapidly changing healthcare IT landscape.
Read how Orlando Health was able to perform deeper dives into claims data to help the health system see claim rejections more quickly–even on the front end–and reduce A/R days.
To maintain fiscal fitness and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty, healthcare providers need visibility into when and how much they will be paid–by whom–and the ability to better navigate obstacles to payment. They need payment clarity. This whitepaper illuminates this concept that is winning fans at forward-thinking hospitals.
Financial services staff are always looking for ways to improve the verification, billing and collections processes, and Munson Healthcare is no different. Read about how they streamlined the billing process to produce cleaner bills on the front end and helped financial services staff collect more than $1 million in additional upfront annual revenue in one year.
Effective revenue cycle management can be a challenge for any hospital, but for smaller providers it is even tougher. Read how Wallace Thomson identified unreimbursed procedures, streamlined claims management, and improved its ability to determine charity eligibility.
Before launching an energy-efficiency initiative, it’s important to build a solid business case and understand the funding options and potential incentives that are available. Healthcare leaders should consider taking the steps outlined in the whitepaper to ease the process of gaining approval, piloting, implementing, and supporting sustainability projects. You will find that investing in sustainability and energy efficiency helps hospitals add cash to their bottom line. Discover how hospitals and health systems have various options for funding energy-efficient and renewable-energy initiatives, depending on their current financial structure and strategy.
Health care is a dynamic mergers and acquisitions market with numerous hospitals and health systems contemplating or pursuing formal arrangements with other entities. These relationships often pose a strategic benefit, such as enhancing competencies across the continuum, facilitating economies of scale, or giving the participants a competitive advantage in a crowded market. Underpinning any profitable acquisition is a robust capital planning strategy that ensures an organization reserves sufficient funds and efficiently onboards partners that advance the enterprise mission and values.
The success of healthcare mergers, acquisitions, and other affiliations is predicated in part on available capital, and the need for and sources of funding are considerations present throughout the partnering process, from choosing a partner to evaluating an arrangement’s capital needs to selecting an integration model to finding the right money source to finance the deal. This whitepaper offers several strategies that health system leaders have used to assess and manage capital needs for their growing networks.
Copyright 2016, Healthcare Financial Management Association.
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