How to Avoid Derailing Your Outcomes Improvement Program
You’re looking to ramp up your outcomes improvement efforts and you know that it takes a serious commitment. You’ll need to allocate human, operational, and financial resources to the cause. Such a commitment would have to bring about a return on the investment that was well worth the effort, and this can only be done by avoiding and mitigating the potential roadblocks and pitfalls along the way that may derail such efforts.
The effort put into outcomes improvement can only succeed if it is both sustainable and scalable. Naturally, there are roadblocks that providers will face along the way. Let’s take a look at what these are and how to avoid them.
The five major barriers to a successful outcomes improvement program are as follows:
- Hardware and Software Acquisition Delays
- Source System Access
- Lack of Resource Capacity
- Lack of Analytic and Technical Skill
- Data Quality Paralysis
Hardware and Software Acquisition Delays
The acquisition of hardware and software can contribute significantly to delays. Preparatory meetings need to be planned to determine if an outside company should host the software and hardware, or on-site at the healthcare facility. There are a few different factors that play into determining how long it will take to acquire certain software and hardware such as:
- The scope of the work
- The number of sources used for acquiring data
- The type of solutions that the organization is looking for
- The timeline
There are also four different options for hosting the software and hardware:
Software-as-a-service tends to be the option that removes most of the potential for delays.
Source System Access
One primary cause of delays regardless of the environment they are hosted in are data source systems. When data is being collected from a variety of different sources like commercial insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid for at-risk contracts, the varying levels of negotiating, data governance, and navigation within each different system ends up being a major roadblock and cause of delays.
Integrated delivery systems are much better at controlling source systems and performing negotiation and navigation among them without as much delay.
Lack of Resource Capacity
Often, a health organization is unaware of the number of different resources it needs to recruit. Therefore, it doesn’t have the required capacity to deal with all of these resources. The result of this usually ends up being that the health organization doesn’t have the proper staff required to run their outcomes improvement program.
For a healthcare organization to combat this, it needs to treat the outcomes improvement program as what it is, a program. It requires ongoing funding and proper staffing to run smoothly, and it won’t work if just treated like a one-time project. The changes that outcomes improvement programs bring about are ongoing fixes that will continue to function without maintenance and utilization.
Lack of Analytic and Technical Skills
Currently, the distribution of data can be illustrated in a pyramid form, with the top of the pyramid representing the workers have access to the tools and data. This is the smallest group at the moment, and this is where the problem lies, causing roadblocks to outcomes improvement.
To bypass this barrier, the audience that the data reaches needs to be more literate and have more access to the data so that they can not only view it but act upon it as well. The viewers of the data need to open to this change and not resist it as a threat, as is so often the case.
Data Quality Paralysis
One common roadblock to outcomes improvement programs running successfully is that many organizations think their data needs to be perfect before it can be introduced to physicians. Rather than expecting data to be perfect, it should be accepted that there are going to be some defects in the data and physicians should be trained to recognize these problems and clean them up at the source.
Equipping physicians to effectively analyze the data takes the pressure off of organizations to have their data be perfect before it’s sent out. It puts more power in the hands of physicians, ultimately giving them the confidence they need to have the data to work on outcomes improvement programs efficiently.
Outcomes improvement programs are becoming more and more necessary in today’s healthcare industry. These often require healthcare organizations to embrace change which is always difficult no matter what industry you’re in. If these organizations wish to implement and manage their outcomes improvement programs effectively, they need to avoid the five most common obstacles to outcomes improvement outlined in this article.
With an open mind, and a willingness to learn new things, health care providers can effectively implement their outcomes improvement programs and help their organizations move forward and evolve with the changing landscape of the healthcare industry.