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Developing Effective Healthcare Contract Management Procedures and Standards

     

Ineffective contract management can cost a large organization hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. An even greater ongoing concern for healthcare organizations may be the potential civil and criminal penalties if poor contract management leads to compliance errors. Paying careful attention to contract management is one way healthcare organizations maintain strong reputations and avoid wasting resources and destroying reputations.

Secure File Storage and Sharing

One of the first and most important steps is establishing proper security measures. Contracts should be stored on a secure cloud system. Two-factor authentication and tiers for document access can help ensure that users only see contracts they’re permitted to see.

Avoiding unauthorized sharing can help protect an organization against privacy violations. Presenting files in un-downloadable formats or using digital watermarks with user information discourages unauthorized file sharing.

Clear Organization of Compliance-Sensitive Material

Documents such as patients’ medical records aren’t the only sensitive materials protected by compliance guidelines. Working in a healthcare organization entails managing potential physician conflicts of interest that could invoke Stark Law, signing pharmacy and vendor agreements, and reviewing Federal Anti-Kickback Law and safe harbor areas. Changing guidelines can make it challenging to hold all contracts in compliance. But penalties for neglecting a new regulation can be costly and damaging to the organization’s reputation.

Creating clear processes to manage contract compliance helps healthcare organizations avoid costly mistakes. It may be especially important to ensure that vendors, for example, are fully briefed on HIPAA, HITECH, and other healthcare compliance expectations. Checking the audit log for compliance guidelines can help contract managers ensure that new vendors have reviewed important files.

Improve Audit and Spending Review

Legal compliance is critical for healthcare organizations. Staying financially afloat is another ongoing concern. CFOs need clear, easy access to the organization’s spending records to identify areas of improvement. When contracts are properly organized, it’s easier to make sure supply purchases go through approved vendors, in correct quantities. Creating a custom tag for contracts that include rebates can make it easy to check that the organization is collecting eligible savings.

By maintaining clear vendor contracts, CFOs of healthcare organizations can prepare more effectively for audits. Contract performance data is available in a matter of minutes, not hours or days of hunting through files. This can result in better vendor pricing when the organization can demonstrate their effectiveness as a business partner.

Templates and Customizable Tags Streamline Contract Processes

There’s a sweet spot between negotiating custom aspects to a specific contract and not reinventing the wheel. A strong contract management system allows for both standardization and flexibility.

Templates are a useful tool to streamline standard contract processes. Rather than a flat boilerplate that needs constant tweaking, a tag template gives a list of parameters to mark with each new contract. The organization can easily group and track contracts by location, contract amount, or any parameter crucial for the organization to measure.

Establishing custom tags is also important for compliance. While compliance laws and regulations like HIPAA apply to any healthcare organization, a particular hospital or clinic has its own internal policies to follow. Tagging documents with custom codes can make it easier to round up contracts for these internal reviews.

When people imagine the impact a healthcare organization has on patients’ lives, their first thought probably isn’t contract management. But improving security, efficiency, and compliance in this area is a significant way for healthcare organizations to uphold their reputation as a trusted provider in the community.

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