From the Chair


Gregory Adams, FHFMA

After every football game-win or lose-coaches review the game film thoroughly to gain insight into those plays that worked and those that did not, to revise their strategy for the next game, and to develop plans to continually improve the team's performance.

In health care, we also review the game film to critique our performance and make adjustments in an effort to continually improve the quality and cost of the services we deliver to our patients-only we view it on our computer screens, and it comes in the guise of data streams. Data about cost, quality, patient volumes, and every other aspect of how we deliver services are sent to our electronic mailboxes on a regular basis, ready for viewing and action.

Consider what these two seemingly very different analytical review processes have in common.

When watching the game film, football coaches often take note of the performance of individual players, looking for coachable moments. As healthcare finance leaders, we review management reports on physician practice patterns, for example, for the same purpose.

While on the field during the game, football coaches are limited to one vantage point; after the game, they can watch the action on film from all angles. Along similar lines, we, with the rest of the management team, have an opportunity to use the strategic information that is disseminated to us to examine all aspects of organizational performance in an effort to improve how we deliver services.
Football coaches watching the game film often hit the pause button so they can focus on various parts of the action; they also watch entire sequences to assess how well the team is working together. Likewise, we may zoom in on a particular business unit or pan out to look at the big picture of the entire organization.

In health care, though, our scope of review goes beyond a single game or season. We also analyze data about the week, month, quarter, year, or multiyear period that just ended. And the volume of electronic data we receive is growing all the time. It has been estimated that the amount of digital information, overall, increases tenfold every five years. That's a lot of game film. We can't review it all.

So, together with our colleagues in IT and strategic planning, we edit the film down to the right level and put it into management reports that highlight the most meaningful, relevant, and actionable information.

Those who don't make the time to review those dashboards and other management reports may miss out on opportunities for themselves and their organizations. The lessons learned by looking back are what enable us to look forward with confidence-to make projections, identify areas for improvement, and adjust our strategies to reflect what the data reveal about our performance. One other thing to keep in mind: In football, coaches doing their postgame review already know how the game ended. But in health care, the game never ends as we continually strive to improve the value we provide to the patients and communities we serve.

So next time another management report arrives in your in box, give it your undivided attention. Our patients are counting on it.

Publication Date: Tuesday, November 01, 2011

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