Spearheading an outcomes program. Simplified.

So you want to start an outcome program.

In today’s healthcare market, creating a patient-reported outcome program is quickly transitioning from convenient to necessary. But it’s a challenge. Implementing a data collection process is both time-consuming, and really difficult.

All the time we talk to clinicians and administrators from organizations of all shapes and sizes who have been working on building a PRO program for years, yet still have limited usable data. But here’s the good news – there is a proven and reliable system to help make the entire process significantly less painful.

You can think of building a successful outcomes program much like you would a home. With that said, picking out paint colors, while fun, is certainly not the best place to start. In a similar way, you don’t want to focus your time and energy on arguing the best PRO tools to pick out. Even though that is the fun part, it’s the quickest route to getting stuck.

The first step when building a home is consulting with a contractor to help you determine the proper steps involved. When your spearheading an outcomes program, CODE is that contractor. We have a step-by-step process that helps you quickly and efficiently navigate through the process, from idea to implementation and well beyond.

There are two fundamental truths that are important to identify:

  1. Resources: Be it time, money, or a combination of both, implementing an outcome data program takes resources. There is no getting around that.
  2. Time: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Once you start collecting outcome data, it takes years before you have enough data to make a difference. Don’t be discouraged. There is nothing that can be done to speed up this naturally long process, but what you can do is start collecting PRO data as soon as possible.

Now that you’re privy to these fundamental truths, let’s talk about how to get your program off the ground.

Here are the 10 steps for spearheading an outcomes program:

  1. Establish Program Goals
  2. Determine Budget
  3. Identify Decision Makers
  4. Identify Influencers: Advocates and Adversaries
  5. Project Approval
  6. Design Data Collection Program
  7. Contracting (negotiations and service agreement)
  8. Implementation
  9. Go Live (Launch!)
  10. Ongoing evaluation

It’s important that you understand the rationale behind the order of the steps because getting off track can lead to frustration and steps backwards. While the order of steps may sometimes seem counter-intuitive, there is a method to the madness.

Since we’re using the analogy of building a home, imagine that your family is expanding and you are outgrowing your current home. Your goal now is to build a larger home.

Once you know how much additional space you’d like to have, you start looking at the financial aspects of the change so you can determine the budget. This is often more complicated than just a Google search. There are additional factors that come into play, such as the equity of your current home, current interest rates, availability for skilled labor, etc.

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Next, you need to identify the decision makers. As the member of a family, chances are that moving forward with something as big as moving to another house is not going to be a ‘solo’ decision. For this example (and often the case in real life!), let’s say that your spouse and your bank lender are the ultimate decision makers. You know your spouse and financial situation better than anyone, so you start formulating a plan on how to present your idea in the most effective way to ‘sell’ it.

Remember, your goals and the decision maker’s goals can be very different. This is not a bad thing by any means, but an important factor when it comes to how to present the information in a way that gets their buy-in. Identifying influencers is extremely valuable, whether they are advocates or potential adversaries, as they can be an asset to speeding up the process, or on the flip side, be a cumbersome barrier that slows the whole move down.

Now that you have done research on key influencers, estimated the appropriate budget, and decided on smart goals, you are armed with all the necessary information to start working on getting the project approved by the decision makers. If you’ve done your job well and the project is approved, it’s time to put the plan into action by hiring a development company that can line you up with an architect and contractor. Their architect will design the house within your constraints and aligns the design to meet your overall goals. Their contractor will take those blueprints into reality. For an outcomes program, this developer role can be filled by a 3rd party vendor.

Just as in building a house, choosing the right one is essential. A great blueprint without a well executed house would be like a great selection of PRO tools and administration timeline, but not having patient participation. On the other hand, a well built house on a poorly planned blueprint would be excellent patient participation in low quality surveys that are not organized and stored properly.

Once you have your preferred developer, you can start moving forward with the contract itself (service agreements are a necessary evil), and as soon as that is out of the way, you are ready to implement your plan.

When you have finally completed the project per your specifications, it’s time for the “go-live” day where you and your family finally get to move into your new house (go you!). From there, it’s all about optimizing your new digs, the ongoing process of making your new house into a home. Don’t overlook the continued maintenance and upkeep required. Regular inspection and upgrades are necessary to keep your home going strong.

We hope this analogy will help you understand the steps, and more importantly the order of them, required in successfully implementing your outcomes program.

About the Author

Breanna Cunningham

Breanna Cunningham

Breanna is the founder & CEO of CODE Technology. Prior to founding CODE, Breanna spent 8 years as a Registered Nurse, where she worked in both the Trauma ICU & hospital administration.

breanna@codetechnology.com