Today’s macro and micro trends (which include a change in reimbursement, increased quality targets and change in leadership, to mention a few) are driving organizations to seek outside assistance to achieve desired outcomes. Hospital leadership hires consultants to identify and drive change in an organization; these engagements are generally highly structured and require support from those directly involved with the engagement.
Department leaders will work with either a Process or Domain Subject Matter Expert (SME). The Process SME relies on benchmarking, whereas the Domain SME has prior management experience within that particular department. Understanding how the SME will be evaluating the department will assist in the success of the evaluation.
The consulting firm leading the engagement has certain contract expectations that they need to achieve, which includes:
- Motivate the team to incorporate best practices,
- Transfer knowledge/tools
- Coach the leaders within a specified timeframe
The structure of a typical engagement is broken into four phases:
Assessment- Over a 1 to 4 week period of time the organization provides data to the consulting firm while the SMEs concurrently conduct interviews with key stakeholders and analyze the data for gaps between actual and target benchmarks.
Develop Initiatives- 1 to 2 months are spent having the SME work with the leaders of the organization to set up steering committees, validate/confirm savings targets and obtain approval to implement initiatives.
Implement Initiatives- 3 to 8 months are spent executing the detailed initiative plans that have been approved by the steering committee, issues and barriers are resolved by the organization’s leaders and reported up to senior leadership.
Monitoring savings- During the last 8-12 months, data is collected on a monthly basis and compared to the baseline data to validate that savings have occurred.
The integrity of the data provided is critical to the success of any engagement: garbage in/garbage out. Providing incomplete data will result in unfavorable consequences for that particular department. Not only does it make the SME look bad, but it also tarnishes the reputation of the department. Data is used to establish a baseline, that period of time will be used to complete the benchmark analysis and, in some cases, zero-based analysis. The post-implementation data will be compared to the baseline to validate the impacts.
The department leaders can and should leverage the SME’s position within the organization to support projects which improve outcomes. This includes equipment upgrades, software updates, labor improvements, and identifying best practices – provided these projects have a positive ROI.
Remember to support the engagement and take advantage of the SME relationships during the 9-12 month period.