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Health Directions Teams Up with CHEF to Mentor Future Leaders

Posted by Matthew Smith on Nov 26, 2012 11:17:00 AM

Chicago health executives forumHealth Directions is proud to be a part of the Chicago Health Executive Mentoring Program, a unique initiative aimed at connecting local healthcare leaders in the areas of health administration, health insurance and health technology with protégés. Protégés are undergraduate or graduate students as well as emerging leaders looking for guidance and support as they navigate their academic and professional careers in healthcare.

The Notre Dame Executive MBA program in Chicago in partnership with the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA), the Chicago Health Executives Forum (CHEF), an independent chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), and the Healthcare Leaders Innovation Forum (HLIF) launched the mentoring program in the Spring of 2012 and received approximately 20 protégé applications and 20 mentor applications.

Mentors hail from many local organizations including Advocate Lutheran General Children’s Hospital, Greenway Medical, Sinai Health System, Health Directions LLC, University of Illinois Chicago Hospital & Health Science System among other esteemed organizations. Ellen A. Ensher, Ph.D. is a Professor of Management at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and adjunct faculty at Notre Dame’s Executive MBA program has designed the curriculum for the Chicago Health Executive Mentoring Program. Core components of the program include:

  • 1:1 monthly discussions between mentors and protégés
  • bimonthly webinars on helpful tools and tricks making the most of a mentor-protégé relationship
  • recommended readings and guides
  • assessments
  • special consulting projects conducted by protégés at their mentors’ institutions

"Health Directions supports this program and its future health care executives whole-heartedly," says Matthew Smith, Director of Marketing at Health Directions. "It's given us the opportunity to work one-on-one with our protégé and develop a meaningful research project that will result in a high-quality, professionally written article and presentation that will, in turn, benefit the health care community."

This dynamic, multi-faceted program would not have been possible without the collective contributions of the founding associations. Leaders from each founding organization have volunteered approximately 3 -5 hours a month towards the program because of their belief in its core mission to connect current and future leaders in healthcare. “ASHHRA supports health care industries and the professional development of future health care executives. There are vast networking opportunities and a large number of health care positions to fill; this is a growing industry in the Chicagoland market,” says Stephanie H. Drake, Executive Director of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA).

For more information on the Chicago Health Executives Mentoring Program, contact Kate Liebelt, 2012 Immediate Past President of the Chicago Health Executives Forum and Founder of the Healthcare Leaders Innovation Forum, at (224) 688-0430 or kliebelt@chefchicago.org.

Topics: health care consulting firm, Chicago Health Executives Forum, Mentoring, Healthcare Consulting

Lessons Learned in Helping a Medical Practice Achieve Meaningful Use

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jun 20, 2012 4:36:00 PM

Meaningful Use, EHRWhat is the key to achieving Meaningful Use of electronic health records? Based on the experience of Lemont Primary Care in Lemont, IL, attestation can be achieved quickly through a combination of planning, collaboration, commitment and flexibility.

In August 2011, Lemont Primary Care became the first medical practice working with the Illinois Health IT Regional Extension Center (IL-HITREC) to attest to Meaningful Use. The entire project took just four months. We began with an on-site kickoff meeting to talk about the project and set goals.

Health Directions then conducted a Meaningful Use readiness assessment (or “gap analysis”) to evaluate the practice’s strengths and weaknesses with regard to EHR use. Based on our findings, we developed a project plan for moving forward.

One priority was helping physicians and staff develop new workflows for both clinical and business processes. Getting the right processes in place is key to effectively capturing and reporting Meaningful Use data.

We also helped the practice establish key performance indicators based on the Meaningful Use
measures —metrics that allow the team to monitor their progress, identify problems and create solutions.

Throughout the entire effort, we provided project management services to keep the initiative on track, allowing physicians and staff to maintain their focus on patient care and support.

Three important lessons came out of this initiative:

  1. Know your EHR system. Every EHR system is different, and each system requires different processes for capturing Meaningful Use data. Generic advice on Meaningful Use will only go so far. 

  2. Practices should seek support and guidance on applying Meaningful Use concepts to their particular EHR system. 

  3. Focus on collaboration. Meaningful Use involves everyone in a medical practice. Physicians need to champion the initiative and there should be strong buy-in from staff. This is key to making appropriate workflow changes. For example, one Meaningful Use measure requires the capture of patient ethnicity and race. We work with physicians and staff to create processes to track this measure on patient registration forms, then use front-office processes to enter the data into the system. 

  4. Stay flexible. A Meaningful Use initiative will encounter no shortage of road bumps. As we worked with Lemont Primary Care, the government was still issuing new interpretations and clarifications, requiring regular modifications to project plans. The most important thing is to maintain open lines of communication, approach problems collectively and adjust plans as needed.

There is no doubt that the healthcare delivery landscape is changing all around us. Practices like Lemont Primary Care that use flexible collaboration to adopt new health technology will be in an exceptional position to continue to impact the quality of care delivered to patients. One of the physicians at the practice said it best: "I am a better doctor because of my EHR."

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Attestation, health care consulting firm, healthcare consulting firm, Medical Practice

3 "Must Haves" When Selecting a Healthcare Consulting Firm

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jun 12, 2012 3:12:00 PM

016 healthcare consultant.ju resized 600We're asked the following question on a regular basis, "What am I supposed to look for when choosing a healthcare consulting firm?" The answer obviously varies from client-to-client based on need, but in general we like to suggest that the best consultants offer the same traits that good friends often do.

1. Good Healthcare Consultants are Good Listeners

How can a client's needs be met when no one takes the time to truly understand the client's needs and even the needs BEHIND the needs? A good consultant should ask probing questions and then sit back, listen, and let the client vocalize and conceptualize his or her needs and expectations. The best way to discover if there is a fit--for both the client and the consultant--is through a conversation.

2. Good Healthcare Consultants (and consulting companies) are Thought Leaders in Multiple Areas 

Good healthcare consultants are well-rounded. They are comfortable and knowledgeable in many areas and know how to get the the root of any problems their clients may have. It's not out-of-line to ask a potential consultant if they speak regularly to groups at industry events or write articles for trade publications. Good healthcare consultants are active in the industry and speak frequently at events so they can interact with people in different regions. This allows them to bring a national perspective to regional organizations. Some areas of expertise to consider are:

  • Billing Systems

  • Clinical Integration

  • Hospital Restructuring

  • Interim Management

  • Managed Care Systems

  • Management Reorganization

  • Medical Practice Development and Management

  • New Venture Development (Home Care Agencies, Out-Patient Services, In-patient Facilities)

  • Operational and Quality Improvement

  • Organization, Administration, Management, and Governance

  • Patient Care Delivery Systems Development

  • Regulatory Compliance

  • Revenue Cycle Management

  • Staff Recruitment

  • Strategic Planning and Marketing

  • Web Site Development

3. Good Healthcare Consultants Don't Make You Do Something You're REALLY Not Comfortable Doing

Granted, the role of a consultant is to often guide the client in new directions, but the best consultants know when to draw the line in the sand that should not be crossed. Everyone remembers that person from high school or college that ran in your social circle but made you a little uncomfortable because he or she wanted you to do something that just didn't sit well with you--something that you fundamentally knew was wrong.

The same holds true for consultants. Good consultants have a deep bench of vendor resources that may be called upon at any time. Being tied to one vendor or external source is not a bonus. Consultants who are "vendor agnostic" are often best because they do not receive benefits from helping clients with their pressing needs.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of requirements for a healthcare consultant and factors such as integrity, past history, industry reputation, and client recommendations should always be factored in as well. Do you have any "must haves" for a consultant? Feel free to share them here in the comments section on our blog. For more information, please contact Matthew Smith at Health Directions at msmith@healthdirections.com or 312-396-5407.

Topics: medical consulting firm, health care consulting firm, Practice Management, healthcare consulting firm, hospital consulting

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