Assess and Optimize


The Assessment and Optimization of your IT needs, although previously covered, is a topic that I believe too many organizations put on the back burner. Therefore, an organization that assesses both current and future needs while incorporating achievable goals and defined metrics will be a successful business. In the healthcare market these goals might be to meet Meaningful Use, Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), or ICD10 standards. They could also consist of achieving financial goals such as reducing days in A/R, claim rejections rates, or reimbursement analysis of your payers to make sure they are indeed paying per your latest contract. Many organizations only review the health/performance of their electronic health record (EHR) and/or practice management applications when issues arise or it is time to upgrade. However, that is not the best time to do an assessment of your processes and system health. We do our budgets annually but many organizations also do a 5-10 year budget. This is done to anticipate changes and plan for the future. In the realm of Healthcare IT, change is the only constant. Healthcare Reform stresses the importance for health prevention to improve efficiency and to lessen long-term costs. In order for your organization to operate at the highest efficiency, it may smart be tie to perform a check-up on your system to see what tweaks can be made to improve system or user performance.

Strategic thinking – Does your organization know of a new regulation or service that will need to be offered in the next 1-5 years? Let’s take ICD-10 as an example, which has been a long time in the works. Many organizations waited until the last-minute to finance and schedule their system upgrade/enhancements and to begin training staff on the new requirements. Had ICD-10 not been postponed, several organizations would not have been ready. Was your organization one of those scrambling? Is your organization wanting to add a service to their offerings in the next 3-5 years such as an imaging solution? Will it need to be integrated? Can your current architecture handle that additional interface? These are important questions to ask, on a regular basis. According to an article by Forrester, Inc.¹, the assessment ideology is outlined as follows:

  1. A repository of application data. Planning provides a common inventory of application data including costs, life cycles, and owners, so that planners have easy access to the information that drives their decisions.
  2. Capability maps. Forrester recommends using capability maps to link IT capabilities to the critical business processes they support. These software tools provide a graphical tool that clearly outlines how the business capabilities that IT provides to the business are linked to IT efforts. This can also be known as an IT Roadmap or technology roadmap.
  3. Gap analysis tools. Alongside capability maps, planning tools capture information about the future state of business capabilities as dictated by business strategy. Users leverage this functionality to identify the areas where IT capabilities need to be built, enhanced, or scaled back — driving IT strategy.
  4. Modeling and analytic capability. These tools enable planning teams to create a variety of plans, which can then be compared to one another to weigh the pros, cons, and risks of each. In addition, their impact on architecture and current initiatives becomes visible. This keeps plans relevant, provides teams with the foresight to plan holistically, and enables IT to communicate the plan clearly.
  5. Reporting tools. Reports guide the planning team’s decisions — for example, which applications have redundant capabilities, have not been upgraded, or are plagued with costly issues. IT strategic decisions are therefore more easily justified. the management process are used in business policy and each person are able to promote the policy of data feeds and how much process are able to know the process is build up in each and every process of management data.

After an assessment has been conducted and action items have been identified, the optimization strategy needs to be created. When doing so, make sure to prioritize the critical needs either by cost, time, or strategic incentives. It’s also important to note that there are different levels of optimization including design, build, compile, assembly, and source code. Optimization should start with workflow analysis and skill level of staff. Why does it take Mary 10 more minutes to check in a patient than it does Joan? Is it a skill level issue or are they using two different workflows? This could simply be a training need. Another common issue we see is that Dr. Smith closes his encounters within a 24 hour window, however Dr. Jones sometimes takes more than 72 hours to close an encounter. Again, this could just be a work ethic issue, but many times it is a workflow issue that we can fix with a little tweaking of Dr. Jones’s preferences or settings. Galen can assist clients with the assessment of needs both on the technical and professional service side of the practice. We can also help with an optimization of workflows and systems to get the most bang for the many bucks you have invested on implementing these products. There are also many customizations and tools that can be of great benefit and aid in the achievement of organizational goals.

You might be saying to yourself a few things; “we already do this,” “we can’t afford to have someone come in and do an optimization”, or “we can do this ourselves so why hire someone?” To this I ask you, how do you know that your optimization is being done to its fullest extent? Bringing in an outside consultant can be scary and nerve-racking, but it can be very beneficial. Galen’s consultants have worked with hundreds of different organizations and have learned the most efficient ways to bring positive improvements to different IT systems. Even when an organization feels as though their challenge is unique and overwhelming to solve, through our extensive experience we have been able to bring lessons learned from other organizations to resolve your specific concerns. The comment I hear most when discussing consultant options is “how can we afford this? ” Instead of focusing on the upfront costs, it should be looked at as an investment which you will recover overtime. One of the biggest investments in your practice is time. Staff time is precious, not only to your organization but to them personally. They don’t want to put in 10 – 12 hours days. They have life outside of work. If you can save money on time-saving adjustments to workflows, tools or simple changes to settings that is priceless . Would you not want to get an hour back in your day or reduce staff overtime? It is very possible to do so.

To discuss any of these topics with us please contact us here. We would be glad to share with you what we have done with other clients and what we can do for you. We are not cookie cutter, we tailor each client service to their needs as we know every one works just a little bit different.

Resources: Forrester Research, Inc 2010 Blog “Tools for IT Planning” by S. Leaver

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