Part I – Removing the cliché from Value in your clinic practice operation
If you walk into a medical practice right now and use the word “value” in a sentence, it’s almost saying a dirty word. Physicians think you’re talking about quality metrics, equating to value-based reimbursements. The process the regulatory body has used to engineer the shift from a volume-based reimbursed methodology to a value-based methodology has essentially tainted the word “value” in their estimation. It’s a false premise of value. If you ask a physician if many of the methods used to capture quality metrics actually reflect quality within their practice, they would tell you, “no, it usually means more clicks in the EHR.”
Unfortunately, it makes having a conversation about the real value found within the medical practice a very difficult discussion. You must first reframe the definition and its resulting connotation. Everything that is associated with shifting to a value-based model has so heavily burdened the medical practice, that it’s left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
So, to be clear, I’m not talking about THAT type of value. The premise of value is not exclusively associated with new reimbursement methodology. At every medical practice that I advise, my challenge is to educate the physician and administrative leadership about what value management really is.
Value management is dedicated to motivating people, developing skills, and promoting synergy and innovation, with the aim of maximizing the overall performance of an organization. Value is derived when satisfaction outweighs the cost. It’s about the relationship between meeting a need and meeting expectations while balancing the impact of the cost required to do so.
Value management is a combination of planning tools and methods to strike that optimum balance of project benefits in relation to project costs and risks. I came to this philosophy as I was completing my Master’s thesis; our team investigated “value” at large corporations. These organizations have entire value managementdepartments devoted to ensuring, overall, the company teams collaborate, no division is a silo and value remains a focus across the organization.
As I reflected on this construct, my aha moment was that rarely has anyone ever talked about how to define value across the medical practice environment with this specific value management focus. For example; there are specific aspects of solutions and applications that divide the front and back office. Some EHRs provide a solution or add-on module for a single problem or issue but are not designed to integrate and enhance the entire practice causing redundant workflows, increased errors, and additional staff work and frustration.
So, I asked myself: What is the value management opportunity in health care, and specifically, within the medical practice?
If we start thinking about it, taking the cliché out of value is really about aligning work with mission and vision. Ask yourselves, who first needs to feel they have received value for their interaction with your practice? If patients don’t receive what they perceive as a valuable care, they won’t come back. If physicians don’t receive the tools they need or adequate income for their efforts, they won’t stay. If the staff doesn’t get adequate training or an encouraging work environment that helps them do their jobs, they will find other ones. If the practice doesn’t have the appropriate resources, it becomes inefficient and unsustainable.
I’ve been fortunate to help many practices reframe their definition of value, to look at value differently and realign the various aspects of their business. When the medical practice works to ensure that anything done adds value rather than detract from it, the end result will be superior quality and outcomes, a premier work environment, and highly engaged and trained staff; fostering increased profitability.
Read Part II next.