The True Cost of Talent

The revenue cycle in healthcare is an incredibly complex organism. Operational challenges around high volume, siloed departments, and an industry shift to value-based care, further complicate nearly every task performed throughout each phase of the revenue cycle. The result – dynamic change to strategic plans of hospital leaders. The solution to successfully managing this industry shift is population health management; the answer to managing change within one’s environment is talent management. Key principles of both include leveraging technology and data to develop strategies that empower organizations to know, manage, and engage their populations and human capital. Unlike population health management, talent management is not perceived as a cutting-edge initiative; herein lies the problem. To be successful, we need to approach management of talent in the same innovative way that we have embraced big data and population health initiatives as both are an imperative for payers, providers, and employers to be competitive in the future.

People – an overlooked component

Harmony Healthcare is a human capital solutions organization providing approximately 500 consultants each week to various healthcare organizations nationally. Our “product” is people. Our area of focus is everything revenue cycle including information technology, data integrity, and reimbursement. Over 30 percent of our consultants serve in leadership roles, which affords our internal delivery team valuable understanding of the challenges our employees face daily. We have unique insight into an incredibly complex market. Simply put, we have our fingertip on the pulse of the talent market within healthcare.

Harmony has developed programs aimed to assist clients with data analysis and knowledge transfer. Our consultants are instrumental in helping numerous organizations understand where they are today and how to successfully navigate the future. Math is the purest form of truth; by leveraging data, we can develop statistically relevant models that help us understand and manage the challenges of tomorrow. The problem however is that the industry tends to overlook the principal component of the equation – people. Why are hospitals ignoring their own “small” data when it comes to making hiring decisions? How could an aggressive recruiting program provide hospitals a consistent return regardless of their tools?

In this time of population health and big data, hospitals can leverage information to evaluate departments, individuals, and make informed decisions on staffing models, education, and their investment in personnel. The only constant, and the most important aspect of the revenue cycle is people. Many organizations make multimillion dollar investments into process designs and technology, yet few optimize those investments by ensuring the right personnel is on board to lead and educate employees on best practices.

Leveraging data to make decisions

Drawing up the perfect game plan is only effective if you have the right personnel. Aligning with a data driven plan is better use and application of human capital. The advanced use of analytics in sports is testament to this approach. Performance graphs in sports abound including shooting chart percentages by area of the floor, hitting efficiency based on pitch location, completion percentages by area of the field – the examples are boundless.

Take the baseball sabermetric WAR for example – short for Wins Above Replacement. This is a baseball statistic developed to sum up a player’s total contributions to his team with that value related to the number of additional wins for the team. Players, coaches, and club owners all use the available performance data to make decisions and adjustments.

This concept could also be applied to various departments and positions within a hospital. A few adjustments are needed, and one idea I’ve discussed with colleagues is comparing current staff to the absolute best talent in the market. What is the value of a CDI Director with 20 years of experience in 30 plus hospitals with a consistent track record of success? For simplification, we will call that situation optimal. This optimal consultant would be able to make necessary adjustments to advance key hospital performance metrics. How can we evaluate our current CDI Director unbiasedly and rate their performance?

What data can we use in healthcare to evaluate performance and how do we build consistent data fields to aggressively pursue the right human capital assets necessary to maximize the investments? There is an abundance of information available to evaluate hospital departments. By adding in the appropriate weights of value one can use this information to measure talent gaps and implement strategies for effective performance improvement. Healthcare organizations should make such decisions based on non-biased statistical information. That understanding will allow healthcare leaders to invest resources pragmatically and guide their consulting partners with the analysis needed to hire the right experts to transfer knowledge to their internal staff which will ultimately provide the maximized return on their investments in other areas.

Talent – the best investment one can make

The challenges healthcare leaders face is unprecedented. The industry shift to value-based care requires creativity. That vital ingenuity should not be limited to implementing new technology alone without investing in the talent of the end-users. We need to evaluate, invest in, and empower the people responsible for pulling the strings. At Harmony, we analyze data, optimize technology, and enhance the knowledge of our most valued investment – our people. We pride ourselves on evolving to ensure we are prepared to be the ideal solution for our clients in the future. Our goal is to provide the experts to accentuate departments that have talent gaps, and to empower our experts with the ability to transfer their knowledge in the areas our clients need support the most. Former NFL football coach, Bill Parcells, once said, “If they want you to cook dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” Hospitals should know what ingredients they have available, and should do everything possible to maximize the quality of all components of their various teams. Finding the healthcare version of baseball legend Billy Beane, should be top priority on every hospital CEO’s grocery list. The cost of not having the right people in the right place at the right time is exponential. After all, if every organization is unique, maximizing the one constant – people – may be the best investment we can make.

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