By: Wanda Lane
Clinical Value Analysis Coordinator
How many times have you heard “why should we bother evaluating a different product? Our opinions don’t matter anyway; it’s all about the dollar.” Or “why are we considering more products to solve a practice problem, can’t nurses just scrub the hub?” Maybe “clinically unacceptable or just not pretty enough…clinicians need to learn about costs.” If you have heard comments like these and others, your Value Analysis program probably feels less like a bridge and more like a rope in the healthcare tug of war.
Bridging the gap between clinical and materials management worlds, Value Analysis professionals provide information to both sides that would otherwise be left open for interpretation. This unique understanding of the logistical and contract obligation language, coupled with clinical knowledge, enables the VA professional to communicate clearly with both sides of the equation. Patient care delivery and product features motivate clinicians, sometimes frustrating Materials Managers who are cost focused. Value Analysts walk freely in both worlds.
Value Analysts also step into the crossfire when the two worlds collide. Dwindling revenue streams, increasing costs and sicker patients put hospitals in a position of financial strain, forcing changes in practice and heightened cost awareness. These changes frustrate clinicians and materials staff alike, but Value Analysis professionals can thrive in this environment if they follow a few simple rules.
1. Acknowledge your personal internal conflict. Many VA professionals are clinicians, gifted with a unique perspective. We empathize with our clinical peers and understand the priority on patient care in a personal way versus an abstract concept. Yet, because we understand the financial side of the equation, we are obligated to hold clinicians more accountable for their fiscal awareness.
2. Present both sides of the arguments fearlessly. Hospitals that survive in this economic environment are making adjustments. VA professionals who openly share the good, bad and ugly of every situation garner trust from both sides, thus improving cooperation.
3. Use humor. Learn to laugh with, and at the situation. Listening to clinicians argue vehemently that the facility must pay six figures for a product because it is easier to use, while at the same time complaining about the need for more nurses is amusing, frustrating, but amusing. Watching a supply distribution technician explain politely that the facility does not have an in-house stock supply of that “blue clippie thing” can be funny. The situation may not be funny, but the behaviors are. It is all a matter of perspective.
4. Accept what you cannot control. Clinicians will find work-arounds to the most robust processes. Materials managers will block excellent clinical initiatives because of hard costs. Value Analysis’ role is to provide information to both sides objectively and clearly. Neutrality enhances fairness and trust, elevating your credibility and value to the facility.
Healthcare is fraught with challenges, while also ripe with opportunity. Understanding both sides of the equation positions the Value Analysis professional as the go-to person. Use your unique perspective to advocate for the ultimate customer- the patient!
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