Hospitals work to accomplish multiple, critical goals as an organization:
- Provide the highest possible standard of care for patients
- Protect patient security and minimize legal risk
- Comply with federal and other regulations
- Manage operating costs efficiently, reducing costs where possible without compromising patient care
Contract management can often serve as a blueprint for achieving these goals. Hospitals maintain hundreds or thousands of contracts and other records outlining agreements with physicians, vendors, other healthcare organizations, and patients. Paying attention to contract management best practices can help general counsel, contract managers, and administrators maintain the most efficient organization system to meet the hospital’s goals.
Like many large organizations, hospitals manage large volumes of contracts, all of which must adhere to various compliance regulations and/or performance standards. Developing standard procedures whenever possible helps streamline organization, saving time and mitigating risk of missing an important step.
When possible, it’s helpful to use standardized language across contracts in a particular category (e.g., physician employment contracts). Since identical contracts aren’t always an option, a more flexible feature to explore is a standard, customizable tag template. Setting a list of required tags for a category of contracts, such as location, renewal date, and contract value, ensures that each contract uploaded will be searchable by the same parameters. Saving a search streamlines the contract review process even further.
Create a Policy and Procedure Database
One of the advantages of a cloud-based system is improved document accessibility. Hospitals may see improved staff operations by including policy and standard procedure documents in the shared contract management system. Compliance issues may stem in part from physicians, nurses or other staff inaccurately remembering proper procedure or feeling too rushed to check the correct procedure. Reducing time required to locate a policy document and linking policies and procedures more closely with applicable contracts encourages compliance.
Using a digital system also reduces unnecessary paper filing, facilitating a clearer physical environment. Check whether a contract management software program’s servers are HIPAA compliant, and ask about additional security features. View-only, non-downloadable files, digital watermarks, and user identity authentication features improve security for sensitive documents.
Improve Audit Preparation and Spend Visibility
Besides ensuring a high standard of patient care and information security, you may be tasked with monitoring opportunities to reduce organizational costs or increase hospital revenue. One way to achieve this objective is through the management of vendor contracts or partner healthcare organization agreements.
As mentioned earlier, saved searches make it a simple matter to review various accounts side by side. One of the challenges of maintaining effective vendor relationships is getting an accurate assessment of the organization’s spending. In a large organization like a hospital, not all staff authorized to make purchases may be fully knowledgeable of existing vendor accounts. Ordering off-contract, placing redundant orders (or even entering redundant contract agreements), or performing unnecessary maintenance on expensive equipment are potential mistakes that could easily eat into the hospital’s overall operating budget. Efficient, organization-wide access to review current vendor accounts can reduce these unnecessary expenses.
Quick, simple search capabilities are also useful for general counsel when preparing for audits. Saving time while maintaining thorough organization is a goal many companies continually strive to reach. The better streamlined the contract management system, the more likely it is that all users will be able to manage their time effectively.