The healthcare industry is being turned on its head because of decreasing revenues; increasing costs; regulations that require compliance, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA); and, the widespread adoption of mobile technologies. Due to these trends, there’s increased pressure on healthcare organizations to reduce costs, create new revenue streams and improve efficiency. In this guest post, Dena Mashburn, regional VP of a company that provides communications lifecycle management (CLM) solutions, offers five telecom expense management (TEM) best practices healthcare organizations can implement.
While some organizations look at consolidation to achieve economies of scale, other hospitals look internally to optimize cost. One of the first places to undergo review is the telecom department.
Making things more complicated, healthcare organizations are dealing with the expanding use of mobile technology. Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are being deployed to streamline processes such as patient registration and discharge, diagnostics and inter-hospital communications. As mobile technology is added to the equation, healthcare organizations must further evaluate mobile’s role in telecom. This increased reliance on mobility, however, presents many challenges for telecom/IT departments. In particular, data costs and utilization are increasing for many organizations. For healthcare organizations, data costs represent 69% of total monthly mobile charges.
Fortunately, because telecom has been steadfast in almost all industries, and a staple in any business, best practices have been developed that can be applied across departments. The practice of telecom expense management (TEM) can enable healthcare organizations to lower costs, improve efficiency, free up employee time, mitigate risk, make better decisions, develop policies and improve internal satisfaction with technology services.
Below are five TEM best practices healthcare organizations can apply to meet demands:
- Reduce costs by providing visibility. TEM allows organizations to reduce costs by providing complete visibility into their entire communications environment. You’ll understand what you have, and where it is by tracking all communications services and assets in a centralized solution. Additionally, reporting tools can provide accurate assessments of costs, help track billing errors and discover opportunities for optimization.
- Ensure network resources aren’t wasted. Inbound and outbound traffic patterns change over time; and ensuring the most cost-effective routing is used will increase service-to-cost performance. Trunk utilization can be analyzed and optimized to generate cost savings and efficiencies. This level of visibility through analytics will drive informed decision making.
- Cut costs by saving employees time. Healthcare organizations can automate labor-intensive manual tasks and establish efficient internal workflows utilizing a mix of software and outsourced managed services. By leveraging a TEM expert to handle all telecom management activities, it can further reduce strain on employees. A TEM expert can process and audit all invoices and resolve every billing issue, drastically reducing internal staff time and providing significant hard dollar savings to the organization.
- Centralize and standardize telecom and IT management. Healthcare organizations experiencing M&A and consolidation activity can uniquely benefit from TEM, as it centralizes and standardizes telecom and IT management regardless of any changes that occur within the organization. With telecom optimized, organized, and under control, integrations with other organizations can go more smoothly. TEM also helps manage the challenges that arise with mobile devices.
- Tackle bring your own device (BYOD) and mobile device management. Doctors, physicians and other employees prefer to use their own devices in their day-to-day work activities. In fact, healthcare organizations have a higher percentage of employee-owned devices when compared to other industry averages. The key is to manage these devices and ensure data and information is secure. MDM software has become a popular means to identify and manage employee-owned devices in the workplace. It offers various levels of security options, such as remote device wipes, kills and notifications to ease security concerns with a BYOD strategy.
Organizations are reinventing themselves to drive revenue opportunities and become more efficient. The changing landscape, however, presents many challenges for the often insufficiently staffed telecom department. Implementing a comprehensive TEM program can help alleviate these challenges and provide relief to these organizations.