Author: Mark Westbrook, Guest Writer
One of the best parts of our job at VerityStream Consulting Services is the daily contact we have with medical staff office/credentialing professionals. They may be members of a large CVO, or a small medical staff office, but they always have perspectives on how things are going in their environments. In some cases we hear things are going well, and there is much to be proud of, while others indicate struggles in meeting organizational expectations, and an inability to hit their stride in their work. Recently, over dinner with colleagues the conversation turned to common phrases we hear when operations are less than optimal.
Regardless of your situation, we thought it might be useful to go through some of these phrases. Perhaps some apply, and some don’t, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. But we think it’s always valuable to be aware of and examine mindsets (conscious and subconscious) that could be influencing the effectiveness of you and/or your team. So here we go...
We know that this is ridiculously obvious, but believe it or not this phrase is alive and well in many medical staff offices. Even in this day and age of rapid change, automation, and growing job complexity. I can unequivocally say nothing will keep you stuck in the mud more than holding on to the past. It may be time to really examine those methods that have hung on for years, and ask yourself (and we encourage you to ask others too) if they are still relevant or necessary. Challenging old ways of doing things can be liberating!
You could almost consider this phrase to be third cousin to Phrase 5, but it’s another common refrain that we hear when talking about how automation can provide an impact to an organization. While in some cases the statement may be legitimate, it is often a matter of how bylaws are interpreted. And if the bylaws are inhibiting your organization from making progress, we encourage a change in the bylaws! In this turbulent healthcare environment I can say that your leadership is not adamantly opposed to improving productivity. If your bylaws require you to perform wasteful activities, duplication of effort, or special handling of files at every facility, then you need to stand up and make a case for a bylaws change. Everyone knows reduction in costs is a primary motivator, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if that reduction was driven by your medical staff office?
New requirements are creating new demands and new opportunities to contribute in every organization. There may be some opportunities that are uniquely suited to the medical staff office, and they provide opportunities to get out of your comfort zone, grow professionally, and extend the value you bring to the organization. The fact is the role of the medical staff office is changing and visibility is increasing. It's time to recognize the work we do now will radically change in the coming years. So break out of the “I have too much to do now. I’m at my breaking point” mindset. Look to take on high value tasks and eliminate the low value tasks. How do you do that? Start with reviewing phrases 4 and 5 and using them to identify and automate tasks, or eliminate those that no longer make sense. Take full advantage of the automation modern credentialing software systems can provide!
I know that when you hear this phrase it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and assume any further discussion is a lost cause. I mean, an attorney said it, so it has to be right. Let’s change that mindset. You may be dealing with an attorney who is stuck in the mud, misinterpreting the laws, or has no idea that what they are saying has to be done simply can’t be operationalized in any sort of efficient manner. We frequently hear of attorneys giving guidance that is in direct opposition to how multiple customers are operating. So if something just doesn’t seem right, say something! Reach out to your peers and find out what they are doing. One final note about this phrase. We sometimes see this as a crutch to enforce the “we have always done it this way” mindset. So you may find instances where the attorneys didn’t say it, but it was interpreted that way.
We often hear from people that see increases in efficiency as a first step to losing their jobs. In a recent Harvard Business Review study, it was shown that corporate process improvement activities rarely focus on the elimination of jobs. The fact of the matter is, aggressive pursuit of process improvement demonstrates a forward thinking attitude that most organizations are desperate for. Pair this new mindset with one that is actively looking to take on new, value-added tasks and you have a potent combination. So shake off the fear of working yourself out of a job and focus on how you can contribute to improving your organization. You may find it provides new opportunities for you and those around you.