Healthcare News & Insights

Proactive project management: 3 steps hospitals can take now

file-systemThe changes in the healthcare industry are coming fast and furious, especially with the impending implementation of ICD-10. So now’s the time to get organized in order to keep projects, goals and resources aligned and on budget. In this guest post, Tushar Patel, senior VP of marketing at a cloud portfolio management solutions company, gives hospital executives steps they can take to create a proactive project management model.

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When the deadline for the transition to ICD-10 was pushed to October 2015, it created a collective sigh of relief – yet it only forestalled the inevitable. It did, however, create a perfect window of opportunity for healthcare organizations to shift to a more proactive project management model.

After all, it’s not only the coming of ICD-10 that will require healthcare IT organizations and the project management offices (PMOs) who support them to work differently.

From coding changes to health information exchange (HIE) compatibility to meaningful use mandates, the pace of change in the healthcare world has never been faster – and the consequences of not keeping up continue to grow. Failure to comply with regulatory deadlines or to adequately prepare for the additional level of specificity that ICD-10 will require could result in the withholding of federal subsidies, unreimbursed revenue and even fines.

In this environment of rapid change, now is a time when project and portfolio management can really shine by keeping projects, goals and resources aligned and on budget.

Project and program managers in healthcare organizations should consider taking these three steps now to deliver more value to their organizations and be as well prepared as possible for whatever the ICD-10 transition and other changes will bring.

1. Create a consolidated view of all projects

With so many initiatives in play from transitioning to electronic medical records to clinical documentation improvement, to streamlining billing systems, it’s critical for organizations and project managers to have a holistic view of all projects with simplified reports to be shared among all stakeholders.

Having this “single source of truth” promotes transparency and ensures all project needs and goals are weighed appropriately when prioritizing. It also helps prevent the “leapfrogging” of projects based on political maneuvering or the addition of distracting ad-hoc projects that are lower in priority. Eliminating duplicate work is another benefit of having consolidated views of your project portfolio and resources.

2. Gain visibility into resource capacity & demand

As lists of requirements grow and more deadlines and initiatives are added to hospitals’ project mixes, there’s no time like the present to establish an effective evaluation and planning process for staffing resources.

Spend the time now to do an inventory of the skills, experience, availability and current workload of your staff, so you’ll be better able to forecast what’s required to meet the demands of new projects and requests. This is of particular importance in preparing for the likely impact ICD-10 will have on productivity.

Once you quantify your true resource capacity needs for planned projects and gain a realistic understanding of what available resources can handle in the future, you can set expectations and accurately communicate what the organization can complete given resource constraints. Having the ability to increase the efficiency of your resources starts by having a good understanding of your capacity and demand.

3. Ensure accountability

Finally, with a comprehensive view of all projects and a solid handle on resource capacity, you can close the loop by re-iterating accountability as a top priority. Make sure that all hospital or clinic locations and service lines are making adequate progress on their initiatives. If they aren’t, involve the appropriate stakeholders to help make course corrections.

Making accountability an expected part of the project execution process will improve performance across your organization, as stakeholders, as well as employees, know that milestones and expectations will be followed up on.

Additionally, gaining greater transparency into the project pipeline and staffing levels will support more realistic forecasting and assumptions. Since some hospitals are relatively new to formally managing IT projects as part of their compliance initiatives, this step is particularly important in ensuring that goals are achievable, which helps to cultivate a culture of trust and improved performance over time.

While the project management landscape for healthcare organizations is certainly changing rapidly, proactive project portfolio management can help keep IT departments, hospital administrators and other stakeholders on track. New technology solutions can also help automate much of the planning, tracking and forecasting workload.

With greater project visibility, a better understanding of resource capacity and a culture of accountability, project managers can help their organizations focus on their true core competency — quality patient care.

Tushar Patel is the senior VP of marketing at Innotas, a project portfolio and application portfolio management solutions company. Tushar holds a BSEE from Santa Clara University and a MBA from The Haas School of Business, University of CA, Berkeley. He can be reached at tpatel@innotas.com

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