Tolerating poor performance: There’s got to be a better way

True confession: I am not a seasoned veteran of health care. I have a mixed professional background in operations, finance, marketing and sales from three distinctly different industries. This varied background gives me a fresh vantage point when reviewing health care workflows.

NEMT New Business Development Director Rick Bisson

What I’ve found most curious in my evaluation of the service levels and the financial analysis in health care facilities has been a tolerance for poor vendor performance. Let me offer a couple examples.

Facility X is having serious problems with turnaround, quality and account management. The HIM staff and physicians are very unhappy. The administrative team is routinely involved in discussions about the problem. Further research uncovers that the facility is not only paying rates above industry norms for these services, but they are also incurring unnecessary “related” fees.

All told, Facility X is paying 43.5% above competitive rates to their current provider for far less than satisfactory results. And it’s been this way for more than three years. Lengthy meetings with HIM staff, physicians and administrators are held to hash out the problem, but it appears that consensus-driven decision-making across multiple layers of management has frozen the voice of logic and reason.

In Facility Y, the current vendor is extremely weak in technology and their customer service policy appears to be based on a simple format of no response. Nagging problems have plagued Facility Y for not just days, weeks or months, but years. As a result, significant time and energy has been spent on addressing and qualifying the problem, but they have fallen short of taking the necessary steps to correct the problem. What has followed has been a compounding of problems.

These failures in service delivery have eventually escalated to a level that impacts the delivery of patient care. Instead of taking corrective action, great effort has been directed toward workarounds that Band-Aid the open wounds. I’m perplexed why they haven’t sought out and implemented a solution that will end the need for prolonged meetings, hallway chats and countless tabulation of error rates.

If you interviewed the staff of X and Y for their side of the story, the two central themes would be a lack of time – too many projects and not enough resources – and a fear that making a change would lead to the same problems they are experiencing.

Hmmmm … isn’t the time issue simply a reallocation of time and resources? Instead of sitting around in meetings and qualifying vendor performance issues, why not put that unproductive and negative time and energy into researching, selecting and bringing in a solution that creates time and provides an open door to resolving other pressing priorities?

There are excellent vendors out there and many impartial means, like KLAS reports, that you can use to evaluate them (stay tuned for a future post on vendor evaluation). Armed with the right means of qualifying and analyzing your choices, a new, competent and compatible vendor can be brought in that allows everyone in the facility to once again focus on the most important issue in health care – improving patient care

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