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By Cory Thornton, MS

This month, we’re discussing market survival, industry change, and above all else, financial sustainability. Technology has a role to play in ensuring an organization’s sustainability (see How Do You Compare On Tech Spending & Adoption?). While some question whether there is a “sure fire” way to plan and prepare for the risks that threaten sustainability, careful preparation and a willingness to test and try new technologies will be increasingly important. Think of it as a  “Strategic Technology Plan” that’s a fundamental part of your overall strategic plan (see What Is Sustainability Anyway? and The Path To Long-Term Sustainability).

This plan describes the technological infrastructure needed to reach an organization’s strategic objectives, the “must haves” without which your organization cannot function and the “nice to haves,” which have the potential to differentiate your organization from all others. (see The 5 Key Competencies Of Technology & Reporting Infrastructure). To get started consider these four areas in which you might leverage technology: clinical performance, financial management, consumer engagement and experience, and value-based reimbursement (VBR) reporting.

Clinical performance

Your organization’s technology infrastructure should support and help optimize performance management to increase the value of care delivery. Clinical performance encompasses both staff performance and clinical outcomes, and are key to achieving this value. Investing in the infrastructure to improve clinical and billing processes, as well as using that information to manage the performance of staff members is key to leveraging a greater return-on-investment (ROI) from your technology and staff, as well as protecting long-term sustainability (see What Gets Measured Is What Gets Done: Keys To Selecting Measures For Performance Management). The key strategic questions to ask: How does your clinical performance compare with industry benchmarks, payer expectations, and the competition (see Does Your Organization Stack Up On Key Performance Measures?) and how does this advance your strategic plan?

Financial management

A Strategic Technology Plan should take into consideration your financial profile. It takes a smart investment in tech to build a model for today’s environment. As always, strategy should set the context for tech selection. Some financial drivers of tech investment:

  1. Reduce cost of service per unit
  2. Reduce cost of service per case
  3. Improve payer preference
  4. Improve consumer preference
  5. Improve operating performance
  6. Improve consumer outcome or functioning
  7. Facilitate new consumer service
  8. Facilitate new payer relationship

The specific financial management competencies needed for success include revenue cycle effectiveness, encounter reporting, value-based payment capabilities, and financial performance monitoring (see Have You Mastered These 4 Financial Management Skills For VBR?).

The key strategic question to ask: Do you have a comprehensive set of key performance indicators and the ability to report them, while monitoring service utilization and costs (see The 5 Key Competencies Of Technology & Reporting Infrastructure)?

Consumer engagement & experience

This is an essential part of strategic sustainability and it was a key theme during the 2019 OPEN MINDS Technology & Innovation Institute (see Consumer Experience Is Driving Tech Investments). Envision all the ways that your consumers engage with your organization and/or brand, and then the ways you could possibly “know” that. Incorporating these answers into your Strategic Technology Plan will help operationalize consumer engagement strategies, such as the ability to monitor consumer health, as well as resources that allow consumers to interact (see Leveraging Technology To Expand Access, Enhance Consumer Experience & Improve Outcomes In A Behavioral Health Care Marketplace).

You need a tech infrastructure that measures your consumers’ experiences including your net promoter score. Other methods include surveying for specific metrics, including first call impression, days to appointment, no-show rates, and your social media presence, engagement, and conversion (see Navigating The Performance Loop – Customer Service, Consumer Experience & Consumer Engagement).

The key strategic question to ask: Are health plans investing in consumer engagement and how can you capitalize on that investment (see Health Plans Invest In Consumer Engagement)?

VBR reporting

One of the newest and biggest considerations for a Strategic Technology Plan is your organization’s capacity to meet the data collection and reporting requirements demanded by health plans. Your plan should do this in two ways. First, it must provide strategic performance management information and second, it must support increasing the service value equation.

Each of these will enable your organization to analyze data and gain the necessary insights about consumer populations and your own performance—both of which are necessary for managing VBR.  The development of this plan has four key steps, as explained in detail by my colleague and OPEN MIND Senior Associate, David Wawrzynek (see How To Build Your Tech Infrastructure For Value-Based Reimbursement):

  1. Build A Technology Infrastructure Strategic Planning Group
  2. Build A Technology Plan That Mirrors Your Strategic Plan
  3. Acquire The Necessary Talent To Make Your Plan A Reality
  4. Implement & Evaluate Your Technology Plan

The key strategic question to ask: Beyond the initial data for VBR, do you also have the ability to share data, increased care management capacity, innovative program designs, and the guiding organizational leadership (see Success With VBR: What Provider Organization Execs Should Consider)?

Strategic issues 

Technology should be part of your organizational strategy and support financial sustainability. Tech investments won’t matter if they don’t align with your strategic goals, and the whole process starts (as all processes should) with strategic planning and a clear view of market position (see From Strategic Planning To Tech Strategy). This is a priority that requires the full support of executive leadership.

The strategic questions to ask: Could your business model benefit from new or different technology, what’s the return on investment, and how long before that return is realized?

For more, check out these resources from The OPEN MINDS Industry Library:

  1. How Do You Compare On Tech Spending & Adoption?
  2. Why Your Tech IQ Will Determine Your Success In A Value-Based World
  3. Building A Technology Infrastructure For Value-Based Care: Tech To Optimize The Value Of Consumer Care
  4. Building A Technology Infrastructure For Value-Based Care: Tech To Support Performance Management
  5. How To Prepare For Value-Based Reimbursement: Four Key Competencies For Success
  6. Consumer Transparency & VBR Changing Best Practice EHR Functionality

Creating a comprehensive technology infrastructure is key to sustainability. It enables your team to develop clear goals, align them with long-term positioning, and realize a vision for the future.

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