3. Ensure mutual understanding of key concepts. Pivotal themes include the cost implications of clinical decisions, processes that are necessary to improve quality and patient safety, and the importance of both quality outcomes and cost efficiencies. “Really understand the implications of the clinical decisions that get made, whether that's a supply issue, a methodology, a training issue,” Nelson said. “If you have the team together, you're going to understand those better and you're going to put in the right processes.”
4. Cross-train leaders to understand issues and be conversant about different perspectives. This approach is about “making sure that we have the ability to defer to others, to listen to their expertise,” Nelson said.
There’s value in “having a different set of eyes on processes that maybe we just sort of take for granted,” Begley said. “Some of those sacred cows or things you just do because you have to do them — it's really refreshing to have somebody come in and take a look [at them], be able to share and feel comfortable that their perspective will be respected.”
5. Clarify the language used by each discipline and agree on definitions of key terms. For example, finance leaders might be comfortable using the term ratio in the context of analyzing financial statements, Nelson said. “When you use the term ratio with your clinical colleague, and it's used really against them from a metric or benchmark perspective, that's not a happy term. It doesn't lead to a really positive discussion.”
6. Encourage rounding. Finance leaders should not worry that these interactions will lead to gotcha! moments, Nelson said, or opportunities for clinical staff to say, “See, because you took away those funds, this is what happened.” Rather, they’re a chance to better understand how financial decisions affect the delivery of care.
7. Don’t try to improve everything immediately. Being selective about quality initiatives is prudent, Nelson said. “You’ve got to start somewhere. Don’t try to boil the ocean.”
“You can’t fix everything at once,” Cipriano said. “But with everyone focused on quality for the patients, that’s a really important starting point.”