Just how mature are you? Ask a teenager that question, and you’ll elicit a response that probably borders on premature, with their developing drive toward independence and control. One thing we do know is that during adolescence, we all mature at different rates. But in time, we do mature. We develop processes that help us manage life, set goals and decide when it’s time to take action.
We ask a similar question of hospitals when reviewing their value analysis programs: “Is your value analysis program mature enough to become a clinically integrated process?” What does ‘mature’ really mean in this context? Isn’t maturity all about perception and subjectivity? Shouldn’t there be standards to help inform us when it is appropriate to take a value analysis process to the next level? I think that if we dive into what this actually means for a more mature value analysis program, the answers are “yes” and “yes.”
Working with our member hospitals, we attempt to help them answer the maturity question as they consider moving from a value analysis process to a clinically integrated supply program. After all, it really is a journey, and similar to when we were teenagers, the process develops and matures at different rates for different hospitals. Experience has shown me that the call-to-action leading an organization toward clinical-supply integration hinges on the successful operation of five key factors in their current value analysis program:
- Physicians and clinicians are driving the value analysis process. There is no better way to get buy-in than to get physicians and clinicians engaged and accountable. They are making well-informed decisions that are data-rich, supported by evidence and are process-driven. The desired outcome centers on ensuring quality patient care and safety at the current level or higher.
- Executives act as influencers and guides by setting the strategic vision, knowing that there will be a need to adjust in order to capture and deal with unexpected challenges. That strategic vision needs to be communicated and aligned with the physicians’ individual performance measures.
- Decisions involving quality and safe patient care are supported with transparent internal data that is actionable. This information, which can ‘tell a story’ of variation in care, as well as how to successfully migrate toward value-based care models, provides a baseline for decision-making.
- Bring on the evidence! Current clinical evidence is used to develop and substantiate discussions versus a subjective vendor white paper or a single opinion by an interested clinician. The combination of clinical evidence, product assessment and leading practices supports the decisions to be made from a clinical perspective.
- A solid process ties everything together. Without common tools, policies, procedures and monitoring elements, work-arounds are inevitable. The focus of a sustainable process should be just that: sustainable, and the savings will come.
So how do you take the next step on this journey? Start by reviewing the principles above. Determine how you currently are engaging your physicians along with the elements of data and clinical evidence you have and are sharing, as well as their effectiveness. Tie this all up with an understandable and workable process.
Remember, this is a journey and not a destination. The decision to move forward to a clinically integrated supply chain first requires maturity in your value analysis processes. It will likely involve testing and trialing certain principles to determine those that work best for your culture in a replicable fashion. The starting point is with the clinical stakeholders, specifically at the service line level. Then, enable clinicians and executives to drive the message across the organization. The result is an efficient process that will ensure a sustainable cost structure, reduce unnecessary clinical and operational variation, improve clinical outcomes and enable your organization to better execute strategies for market success.
About the author. With more than 30 years of experience in the health care industry, Deborah Roy has held numerous leadership roles responsible for the creation, development and measurement of value analysis teams, consistently exceeding targeted savings projections. In her role as principal at Vizient, Roy leads efforts to assist our members in achieving best practice protocols for service line improvement across all clinical operations, as well as leading interdisciplinary teams in the development of customized approaches for product and new technology selection.