Five Keys to Selecting the Right Partner for your Next Hospital Reimbursement Staff Augmentation Project
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it becomes more complex and increasingly challenging to find the right organization to assist with augmenting hospital reimbursement staff. This bodes true for the simplest of needs such as temporary coverage for staffing shortages to more complex health information technology conversion projects. With the reins on reimbursement tightening and the increasing focus on quality and population health, the margin for error in choosing the right partner for staff augmentation has narrowed.
Many times, selection of a partner to assist with staff augmentation is based on the fastest and cheapest fix, previous personal relationships, or in many cases, on a limited selection available on approved vendor lists. Most hospital leaders work 50 to 60-hour work weeks and have limited time to compare vendor services. So, judgement calls are made, many times without taking into consideration the best options for the specific need. Internal resources are moved in place to cover positions of which they are not qualified or vendors without the correct subject matter experts are chosen out of convenience; these solutions can put a band-aid on a situation, but likely will create larger future issues.
What to expect from your solutions partner
Let’s explore the most common challenges in the world of staff augmentation and in doing so uncover five key facets to selecting the right partner.
- Contract processes. Getting a contract in place can be viewed as the most time consuming and daunting part of starting an engagement. Having a partner that understands this process and the common challenges that can arise is crucial to success. The key is to have a dedicated contract resource who can help shepherd the process—this typically helps to alleviate the involvement of managers and staff, and in most cases ends up shortening the timeframe.
- Onboarding and IT access. Ensuring the consultant or project teams are compliant and have the necessary clearance and access required to begin work at a facility, can also be a time drain for the facility manager involved. Having a partner that has dedicated compliance and IT resources in place is also key to success. We are seeing a shift to IT departments becoming more siloed. If a consultant or project team needs to have access to multiple systems; siloed IT departments results in access requests having to go through multiple layers before correct access is set up. Having a resource who will monitor this process every step of the way can shave days, even weeks off timelines.
- Department structures and training procedures. It is a common misconception that you can simply bring an individual in from the outside with the required skill set, grant them system access, give them a brief overview of the responsibilities, and they will perform the exact function of a prior employee. Consultants and project teams work with dozens of facilities over their careers. While this experience is part of the value of consulting, it still requires oversight. Having a resource assigned to each consultant that walks them through the training process—to ensure that they get the specific tools needed for each specific project—makes an enormous difference. It can also be of benefit to a department in the long run as it forces an outside review of the workflow and training materials, and many times uncovers efficiencies that would not have otherwise been realized.
- Productivity and quality monitoring. Many facilities have their own productivity and quality monitoring systems in place. However, depending on the size of the project, certain facilities may not have the time or resources available to track these key measurements as close as they would like. Partnering with an organization that has clear and transparent plans and mechanisms in place is paramount. Even if a facility does have mechanisms in place, this is one area where redundancy can be considered a good thing; having an “extra set of eyes” to monitor these performance measurements is a must.
- Project hours and deliverables reporting. We all know that consulting services come at a premium. So, it is not outside the realm of expectation that you should get the highest quality and accuracy of results for the price. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you partner with an organization that has a dedicated project manager who outlines a project plan which includes the expected project hours that your organization will incur for the specific promised deliverables. Transparency and oversight are key.
When selecting the optimal partner, look for a solutions provider that is trained and dedicated to combating these and other challenges. These are major points of emphasis at Harmony Healthcare. We have dedicated project managers that understand the simplest to complex contract processes, have a support team in place to assist with onboarding and IT access, have a recruiter assigned to each consultant to help ensure consultants and project teams have all the tools for success, have tracking mechanisms in place for productivity and quality monitoring, and are supported by an operations team that ensures project hours and deliverables reporting is timely and accurate.
The key to all successful engagements starts and ends with open communication. By addressing these five key factors and asking simple questions up front about the nature of the support you will receive, you can make your selection process much easier and in turn get the results you deserve.
Article written by guest blogger, Patrick Comune. Patrick serves as Manager, Client Services where he oversees a team of dedicated client managers who act as liaisons between Harmony and our clients providing strategic and operational oversight. The team assists with all aspects of the project lifecycle, and works to improve client support programs and enhance client satisfaction.