Top Takeaways from the 2015 NAMSS Conference for a Brighter Future

Top Takeaways from the 2015 NAMSS Conference for a Brighter Future
Senior Director of Marketing

Last week, I traveled to the Emerald City of Seattle, Washington for the National Association Medical Staff Services’ (NAMSS) 39th Educational Conference and Exhibition. Similar to the recent American Society for Healthcare Human Resources (ASHHRA) conference, the theme for this year’s NAMSS conference, “Embracing Change: A Journey of Leadership,” also focused on leadership. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, medical services professionals (MSP’s) need to adapt to the upcoming changes in order to be successful in the future and continue to improve quality of care and patient safety. You’re probably familiar with the phrase, ‘the only thing constant is change,’ and MSP’s need to embrace this constant in order to thrive in the long-term.

The following represent my top takeaways from this year’s NAMSS conference.

1. Judy Carter’s Lesson for MSP’s

This year’s opening keynote speaker, Judy Carter, TEDx speaker and author of The Message of You, shared how MSP’s can make their sense of humor pay off. “Laughter is the best medicine and you don’t have to verify the credentials of the person providing that,” she says.

According to Carter, our ‘mess’ creates our success. We become experts thanks to the messes in our lives. When we can laugh at a problem, we have power over it. “We all have that opportunity to transform something in our life,” she explained. “Make fun of yourself, have some fun, and that’s how you create magic.”

In order to keep staff engaged, it’s important to make a conscious effort to get closer to them. “Have a part of your meetings where you appreciate people,” Carter recommends. “Make it a point to celebrate their successes. Appreciate people.” We can all use a little appreciation, and studies have shown that it helps improve employee engagement.

2. How to Streamline Processes with Centralized Credentialing

Amy Niehaus, Credentialing & Medical Staff Services Consultant at The Greeley Company, discussed what to consider when centralizing credentialing activities in the presentation, “Centralized Credentialing and Beyond: Navigating the Frontier System Integration.” Centralized credentialing involves consolidating credentialing activities that are duplicated across an organization and putting them together in one place.

A few of the many benefits of a centralized credentialing verification process include:

  • Standardization of processes - There’s one system and only one process.
  • Standardization of forms - These include application/reapplication and privilege forms.
  • Knowledgeable and dedicated staff - The credentialing verification organization (CVO) has time to educate and mentor staff and become the knowledgeable resource for your organization.
  • Reduction in practitioner and office staff time - There’s less duplication of effort, fewer forms completed, and fewer documents (i.e. CME, licenses, certifications).
  • Reduction in risk - Less disparate information means there’s less likelihood for information and decision errors.
  • Increased efficiency - There’s less duplication of effort with shared practitioners and volume leads to increased proficiency and streamlining.

When centralizing a credentialing verification process, Niehaus recommends considering the following:

  • Look at the Big Picture - Step back from silos and see what you can accomplish by beginning with the end in mind.
  • Enlist Leadership Support - You’ll need experience, knowledge, good communication skills, project management and good teams in order to implement the changes.
  • Embrace Change - Change is hard, but it allows you to be proactive by analyzing your processes and identifying opportunities for improvement
  • Track Results - Evaluate whether your organization is meeting its goals and how the centralized process is affecting revenue cycle management. Demonstrate the benefits of your new credentialing processes.

3. Changing the Medical Staff’s Mission

“The medical staff is changing and what physician employment means for your medical staff,” says Dr. Richard Sheff, Principal and Chief Medical Officer at The Greeley Company. According to Dr. Sheff, healthcare trends including population health management, consumer-driven healthcare, and market competition are driving changes in the medical staff.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Triple Aim framework describes an approach to optimizing health system performance based on three dimensions: 1) Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), 2) Improving the health of populations, and 3) Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

“Today’s imperative is to improve quality and reduce costs at a pace and magnitude no one yet knows how to achieve,” explains Dr. Sheff.

Therefore, the medical staff needs to change in the following ways:

  • Become part of the solution to the quality and cost problem.
  • Change how physicians practice medicine patterns to achieve improved quality and reduced costs.
  • Integrate with other physician-hospital alignment and collaboration structures.

According to Dr. Sheff, the medical staff’s new mission should be: “To achieve physician success, hospital success, healthcare system success, and good patient care.”

4. Learn from Top Performing Healthcare Organizations

Probably my favorite session from this year’s NAMSS conference was “Top Performing Healthcare Organizations Do’s and Don’ts,” presented by Dr. Jon Burroughs, President and CEO of The Burroughs Healthcare Consulting Network. In order to become a high performance healthcare organization, it’s not enough to simply make a profit. According to Dr. Burroughs, high performance healthcare organizations are obsessed with results, customer-centric, and community-centric.

The following are ten keys to high performance from Dr. Burrough’s presentation.

  1. Focus on Culture - Culture eats strategy and successful healthcare organizations need people that are more than the minimum.
  2. Provide Leadership Training - Most top performing organizations have a systematic way of preparing physicians and nurses for leadership roles.
  3. Optimize Quality/Safety through Standardized Practices - Follow evidence-based practices. Standardization can help reduce length of stay, general complications and mortality rates.
  4. Continuous Focus on Customer Service and Loyalty - Service is the differentiator in determining an organization’s success. This applies to both internal (i.e. physicians and allied health staff) and external (i.e. patients) customers.
  5. Work with Management to Continually Reduce Costs - Think outside the box to reduce costs and improve ROI. This includes looking at new roles such as medical scribes to assist physicians and nurses in documentation.
  6. Expand Focus to Disease Management and Population Health - Smart organizations realize the healthcare is moving away from a fee for services model and moving towards risk-based contracting.
  7. Become Health Information Management (HIM) Adept and Literate - It’s critical to be able to transmit information online. Positions such as Chief Information Officer, Chief Medical Information Officer and Chief Innovation Officer are becoming more common to address the changing business model.
  8. Work in Interdisciplinary Teams - Healthcare is now a team sport and different people have different levels of expertise.
  9. Be Willing to Exclude Low Performers or Non-Performers - Not everyone can go on the journey to excellence and it’s necessary to say “goodbye” to individuals unwilling to meet ‘culture’ and ‘values.’
  10. Physician Alignment - Have an at-risk contract with all physicians in which they are working towards the same strategic goals and objectives.

I hope you found these takeaways insightful and inspiring as you prepare to bring change at your organization in 2016 and beyond. Did you attend this year’s NAMSS conference? What are your top initiatives for the following year?

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