‘Can You Back That Up?'
I was asked that question last week by a board member of the NHS Trust in which I work. Rather a few members are making the rounds of different services to see how things are working (or not) and to assess if they are getting monetary value for those services. We were well prepared. We had the results of a yearlong audit showing excellent clinical outcomes and positive financial outcomes.
The board member who asked the question is very involved with budgets and reimbursements. We were able to give answers based on a fair amount of research and costing data. They asked us questions for nearly 2 hours. When they left, one commented that this visit wasn't anything like what they expected, but was so much better than they had hoped for.
As I'm developing a similar service in another town, I now also have to back up claims on potential outcomes, both clinical and financial. I'm glad I've got the experience and data to see me through this process! I didn't get them overnight though. This isn't something one can "cram" for in a weekend.
It has been 5 years of developing a culture of data collection in our service and getting others on board with understanding the importance behind a variety of evidence. It has meant working closely with other disciplines to achieve common goals in running an excellent service. In these times of tight and tightening budgets, one must always have data to support one's service. This means a culture of self-reflection, on both personal and group levels.
Does your clinic/practice regularly audit itself? What does it look at? To survive and even thrive these days, it isn't enough to be ready for a JCAHO, Medicare or state DOH survey. One has to be ready for the owners to show up and ask why your service does what it does and the way it does it. Are you ready?