How can you cut costs while improving quality? That’s a common challenge for today’s health system finance departments. And now with declining reimbursements, evolving payment and care delivery models, and increasing consumerism the stakes are higher than ever. So what can you do at your organization to drive results? It starts with accountability. Here are three tips for turning accountability into action to improve both costs and quality at your organization.
1. Accountability Starts With the Planning Process
When the budgeting process comes around it can be easy to view it as a bureaucratic exercise, but it is actually a great education opportunity. It is an opportunity for the finance department to have face-to-face meetings with clinical managers to help them understand how the financials work, and communicate the organization’s strategy to set realistic expectations for the goals in line with that strategy.
I used to teach a class called Finance for New Managers, and what I discovered was how eager clinical managers were to learn about the financials, but how much of a gap there was in their understanding. In many cases they did not know the difference between what their health system charged versus what it collected, or how much PTO accruals can impact monthly financials. By taking the time to educate managers early on in the budgeting process, you set them and your finance team up for success.
2. Monitoring Reinforces Accountability
If you’ve made education a priority during the initial budgeting process, then it becomes easier to hold managers accountable for their performance during the monitoring stage. They will understand the importance of looking at their data and have a better idea of what to review when they receive their bi-weekly payroll reports and their monthly budget variance reports. This review will then allow them to identify opportunities for improvement.
However, the work doesn’t stop there. Executive feedback is critical to success. If a manager is doing a good job of explaining their variances, but they don’t receive any feedback from their leadership then they have been signaled that it’s not important and they often stop reviewing their performance reports. To reinforce accountability, leadership should meet with their managers to discuss financials on an on-going basis.
3. Consistent Best Practices = Continued Success
Just like most things in life, having a plan or a strategy behind a process normally leads to greater success. For example, if you’re going to bake a cake, you don’t just grab the oil, sugar and flour throw it in a bowl and hope for the best. You use a recipe as a plan – just like a good budgeting process is your financial plan. By laying the foundation for success in the planning and monitoring stages you can find a recipe that works in your organization and as a result, set managers up for better decision making and continued success in the future.
To learn more about how you can turn accountability into action for improvement at your organization, CLICK HERE.
I’m a national director from Durham, NC, who helps members and prospective members understand how Premier Inc. software tools can help reduce costs and improve efficiency. When I’m not working, you’ll find me playing with the cutest cocker spaniel in the world (ok, I’m biased) or cooking. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
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