Managing Change Control in Healthcare

Managing Change Control in Healthcare

Over the last decade, systems within healthcare organizations have experienced numerous, transformational changes to bring efficiency and structure. All departments have gone through some kind of change but most of the alterations can be attributed to those sectors that are more focused on the information technology factor.

This specifically applies to the management of systems within hospitals as they use software to continue to find better approaches to assess the impact of any changes or activities within their chargemasters in their organizations. Not only do they have to adhere to all policies, but they must constantly keep staff up-to-date on changes so everyone can stay on the same page.

What is Change Control Management?

The purpose of change control is to provide a systematic approach to determine any impacts or changes that might affect how a hospital operates. Because change control policies apply to supplies, analytical methods, lab equipment, etc., any alterations or approvals will need to be talked about to prevent any consequential effects.

For example, a hospital’s blood bank uses an extensive technological system to keep track of all procedures, laboratory supplies, and more. Their system or chargemaster should provide an outlook on what current codes they’re using, where the money is going, and where it should be coming from. Other information included would be data with approvals and rejections going back and forth between staff and project managers (superusers). Without this consistent change management between departments at the blood bank, staff could lose track of how much procedures cost, equipment supply numbers due to code misusage, and other issues that will cause additional long-term problems.

How can Changes be Managed?

  1. Regularly Run Quality Control Audits

Having traceable data “on paper” will allow any managers to get a better look into what data is currently in their systems and how the changes have affected them. These reports should include any new changes along with other, connectable pieces of information such as revenue, procedure history, and more. All of these together will ensure that a hospital is not only staying in compliance but is properly managing their systems to where they are reaping the benefits.

  1. Continually Train Staff

A tech-savvy hospital understands that staff will need to be continuously trained not only on the software being used to manage their codes and procedures, but they will have to be updated on what to correctly put into the system to maintain compliance. Project managers or superusers are responsible for passing this knowledge onto their staff and ensuring that they are fully available for any additional help after the fact.

  1. Ensure all Changes are Requested and Made as Soon as Possible

Time management is important for all people involved. Any project managers or superusers will want to keep up on the necessary changes or requirements their systems need and will have to communicate these changes to their staff immediately.

On the flip side, staff will need to be trained extensively so they will have a meticulous eye to find even the smallest of changes needed to keep the hospital’s system current. Taking initiative is vital for staff as delaying any change requests or concerns can cause a hospital to fall victim to issues, such as additional high charges.

  1. Management by Superusers

A great part of change control is that new hospital technology can have superusers be in charge of the major frontend happenings within a system. These superusers are extensively trained hospital personnel that have experience within IT, finance, and more, so they know what to look for in cases of rejections, approvals, or any regulatory issues. They also have the ability to override any alterations they deem inefficient or incorrect, which leaves less room for error from staff insertions in a system.

Effects of Change Control Mismanagement

Without proper change control management and training, hospital systems can quickly see the consequences – even if the best software and consultations have been invested in!

  1. More Miscommunication

The point of using software or a system that requires change control management is to streamline each department and have them stay current on all of the information and criteria that will help a hospital continue to thrive. The issue here is that the said departments will have to maintain proper practices and communication after trainings to keep each other aligned on approvals, rejections, and changes. It’s easy for hospital departments to fall off track a bit in the midst of busy weeks but system organization should never be put on the backburner.

  1. Revenue Leakage

Many hospitals experience revenue leakage due to disparate technology that hasn’t been changed. After a system transition and proper management control, the amount of money lost should decrease significantly. If not, there are some contributing factors that all revolve around unintentional mismanagement, including errors in code usage, and insufficient data entered. Additional problems that have also been found include staff not being kept up-to-date or not following the latest procedures for a system. By not paying attention to this early on, a hospital can continue to lose money by the millions.

Each piece of data such as codes, pricing, and modifiers all follow compliance within a hospital’s system. This means that because regulations are consistently changing (HIPAA, Medicare, etc.), hospital staff and superusers will have to properly communicate so the latest legal procedures are followed through. If someone doesn’t change a code correctly or unknowingly uses something that was part of a previous system, hospitals can get into severe legal issues.