By Al Gresch, VP of Client Success, Accruent Healthcare

Over the past couple of years, my older brother and I have been slowly but surely doing renovations to my mother’s 150-year-old house.

We started with the full bath and found it to be much more work than anticipated. With a house this old, you often find that nothing is level or square, and almost nothing related to plumbing and electrical is up to current codes. Subsequently, we ended up taking several backward steps before we could move forward. Through persistence, determination and many small steps along the way, we eventually finished the job and both of us, and most importantly my mother, were quite pleased with the results.

Despite our challenges with the full bath, we rolled up our sleeves and started on the half bath, figuring that it had to be easier. Well, when we started tearing up the floors, we realized there was asbestos under the vinyl, wood planking under the asbestos, and many other roadblocks that caused us to again step backward before moving forward. We are well down the road to completing this project and will likely take on her kitchen next. So, why am I telling you this story?

Transformational initiatives take time, but bring major benefits.

In the course of working with our healthcare clients, I find that so many of them are reluctant to take on huge transformational initiatives, because they assume it would take a massive amount of work, which is overwhelming on top of everything else they have to get done. Subsequently, many have not:

  • Implemented an Alternative Equipment Maintenance (AEM) program and realized the associated benefits, because the data to support and defend it is not reliable enough to take that chance.
  • Redesigned workflows and streamlined processes to gain greater efficiencies and garner cost savings, because it would involve a fair amount of foundational work to implement those changes, including once again tackling the data issues that exist.
  • Grabbed a seat at the capital planning table or taken on higher-level initiatives for the same reasons.
  • Taken on the challenge of in-sourcing high dollar contracts because of the tremendous amount of work it takes to garner support from clinical and financial leadership and train and retain staff.

I will tell you from firsthand experience, like my mother's house, that not one of these transformational efforts happen overnight. In speaking with a good friend and client, Nader Hammoud, at a recent conference, his advice was spot-on.

“You just need to take the first step and eventually you will get there."

Nader was talking specifically about implementing an AEM program, but the concept applies to any initiative. Nader’s staff has been inspired by the approach he has taken and I have found the same to be true with the groups I have led over the years. While people generally like operating within their comfort zone, creating a culture of change that will ultimately make things better for your staff and your customers will encourage your staff to bring forth ideas to help improve other processes.

Start with a vision and develop a plan.

Which foot do you put forward first? Begin by assessing your program and identifying what will bring you greater efficiencies and free up staff time to do more for your customers, improve safety and improve services. As Nader did, implementing an AEM program is a great place to start. If you are concerned about the quality of your data, start there first. Set a goal to clean up one aspect of your data and expand from there. If you do not have any bandwidth at all, consider bringing in outside help. If you can show your leadership the value that clean data will bring, it should not be difficult to justify. In our 10 Steps to Make Your HTM/HFM Department a Strategic Asset series of webinars, I cover a lot of the points you will need to help get you started.

I strongly recommend starting with a vision of where you want to be in three to five years. This will help you identify your foundations so you can appropriately prioritize and start building them out. It will also be great to share with your leadership to get their buy-in and support, as well as send them a message that you are someone dedicated to moving things to a better place. Sharing that vision with your staff will also get them inspired and engaged. It is said that the greatest gift of a leader is to provide their team with a strong sense of purpose. If they know you are someone intent on taking things to a higher plane that will subsequently create more opportunities for them, they are more likely to work harder to make that vision a reality.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the concept of a flywheel. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to get it moving, but once it is moving it continues to gain momentum until eventually, it reaches a point where it is almost impossible to stop. By breaking down what may seem like an overwhelming task into bite-sized pieces and making continuous movement forward, you will have a much easier time getting the flywheel moving and will eventually get to where you want to go. As Nader recommended, take that first step. If you need assistance or support getting started or at any point along the way, know we are here for you. Contact our team today to get started.