The word “consulting” means “giving expert advice to other professionals, typically in business matters.” What this does not mean then is that consulting advice is generally given in the client’s direct area of expertise. If a consultant does not offer ideas about patient services, what is the impact it can make for a healthcare provider?
Whether they are set up to be a profit or a nonprofit, healthcare providers are first and foremost businesses that need to be operationally and fiscally viable. Although this may seem obvious, a lot of people in healthcare are “mission-driven” to help people get well and stay that way; often, the business side of things comes second to that goal.
In other words, every effort and resource is often completely committed to patient care. While this is a laudable approach for the patient, it can often mean that opportunities to strengthen cash flows, profit or assets for the organization as a whole are missed. This can adversely affect the provider’s capacity to deliver on its mission.
One of the first areas of added value that an external consultant can bring is a business perspective, usually an audit of what business-oriented steps and strategies might be weak or missing altogether.
4 Key Areas of the Healthcare Business Audit
- Marketing/Customer audit: This looks at the nature and expectations or requirements of current patients and how much the service given matches all of their needs and at patients or customers that could potentially be served.
- Operational audit: This looks at the major processes in which the provider engages and assesses the relative efficiency and effectiveness of each of them (usually in time, other resources, including technology, and costs).
- People/Organizational audit: This looks at human resources within the provider and how well they are selected, trained and motivated to provide the service being offered.
- Fiscal/Financial audit: This looks at the flow of money through the provider and considers where better risk management and control may be possible to introduce and opportunities for cash flow acceleration to be introduced.
By looking at each of these areas an experienced and knowledgeable consultant can draw upon best practices inside and out of the industry to determine the scope for improvement in one, two, three or sometimes all four of these categories.
RX4 Group offers a free 80+ page ebook about each of these practice areas. Download them on our Resources page.
Dr. Jon Warner
CEO-RX4 Group-The Business of Healthcare