Business process management helps hospitals work smart and fast

By Patty Enrado
10:09 AM
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The economic decline is continuing to pummel hospitals in the form of reduction of reimbursements, rise of uninsured patients and decrease in number of elective procedures for insured patients.

In this environment of balancing shrinking budgets, staff reductions and patient safety, hospitals are more open to generating efficiencies using IT, said Laura Mooney, vice president of corporate communications for Metastorm,

Streamlining administrative processes while continuing to invest in patient care is not mutually exclusive, she said. Business process management, or BPM, can provide a clear view of processes across all systems, including billing, accounting and other legacy systems. "The end goal is to improve business processes running on software, doing things in the smartest and fastest ways, which automates processes, reduces resources and increases accuracy," Mooney said.

An additional benefit of implementing BPM is being able to document and track data in real time, which improves the process for compliance certification and audits.

Metro Health Hospital, a 238-bed osteopathic teaching hospital based in Grand Rapids, Mich., implemented a lean, quality improvement discipline borrowed from the manufacturing industry. BPM software helped identify and eliminate waste and drive efficiencies in its processes, Mooney said. While streamlining processes resulted in a reduction in administrative staff, more often than not, it enabled high-level administrative staff to focus on higher-value tasks and do their jobs more effectively, which in turn increased job satisfaction, she said.

Gaston Memorial, a 442-bed not-for-profit hospital based in Gastonia, N.C., is using BPM to accelerate its job posting, reducing the process from weeks to one day, Mooney said. BPM software is also providing the Human Resources department with more automated functionality in areas such as patient incident identification and reporting, which helps increase prevention efforts and quality of service, she said.

By using IT to help their businesses fix process issues, C-level hospital executives can "step up and be the champions," especially in this economic environment, Mooney said.