Once you grasp the principles and practices of the value analysis functional approach, you can easily see how it can translate into high quality results in cost and quality for your organization, but these principles and practices alone are only part of a successful VA program. In a perfect world, we would just put all the products, services, and technologies into our value analysis workflow software and churn out all of the results on an ongoing basis. That is not the reality in a VA program. There are many elements that go into a successful healthcare value analysis program which are just as important as your VA study process. Below are those elements:
1. Project Management – Everything in value analysis becomes a project. It does not matter whether it is a product, service, or technology but it will be a project to work on. Add 3, 5, or 10 new product requests, 2 contract conversions, 1 recall, and a cost management review in a week and you realize you have a lot of projects to manage. The better you are at managing all these projects will not only allow you to better manage your time but improve your workflow and process flow efficiency. I highly recommend using software like Mind Manager which is a mind mapping tool that is universally used in the quality and process improvement world. You can create dashboards, drill down to individual projects, and create slide decks or reports on your value analysis studies with just a few clicks.
2. Team Management – Value analysis is not a game for the lone ranger in a healthcare organization, the reality is that value analysis is a team game, and everyone needs to play their part in it to win it. With this comes the management of value analysis teams; not only the meetings but also the projects, engagement, and collaboration with department heads and managers. This is why it is important to have standardized processes, software, and reporting to help keep everyone on the same page. Otherwise, every study will take on a life of its own and be done every which way but the most efficient and right way.
3. VA Trainer – You may be a trained professional in value analysis but more than likely the majority of your value analysis teams as well as department heads and managers who you work with have not received any formal training in value analysis. This can cause a lot of issues and inevitably slow down your value analysis meetings, study processes, and implementations overall. It is better to have everyone on the same page so they all “get it” vs. those team members who draw their own conclusions of what value analysis is and how it should be treated. Build in some training for your team once or twice a year and hold a 2-3 hour value analysis orientation training for all new value analysis team members. A little training can go a long way with VA.
4. Data Analyst – Value analysis is all about data: Product line item spend data, clinical supply utilization demand reporting, benchmarks, key performance indicators, spend analytics, inventory history, evidence based reviews (still data), etc. The data is endless which will chew up most of your value analysis study time if you allow it to. Make sure you develop your skillset here as well as the reporting that will allow you to make faster, better, easier decisions for your value analysis program.
My advice to you is to make the savings come to you, make the proof easy to see, and let the data drive your savings objectives. Get away from spreadsheets and set up go-to databases that will always give you answers in the format that you need them to in a timely manner.
5. Expert Interviewer – Value analysis begins and ends with the customer as they are the stakeholders and subject matter experts on the products, services, and technologies that we perform value analysis studies on. Thus, we must be able to effectively interview our customers, stakeholders, and experts in order to draw out their true key requirements of exactly what they need and to avoid features that they “like” but don’t really need. You need to be the Barbara Walters of your healthcare organization by asking the right questions so that the VA customers will give you the right answers every time. This will help you sift through the bias that will naturally come with their opinions on the products they use or want to use.
There are definitely more elements to a successful value analysis program that we could outline here but I believe these are the five major areas that you need to master in order for you and your healthcare organization to excel at value analysis in the coming years. It may be a little difficult to add elements to your already existing teams as they like to just do what they expect to do but it is necessary for you to be the leader of your program and lobby for things like training, process development, and better reporting solutions. Once you have all of these in your toolbelt, you will be unstoppable in 99.9% of the value analysis studies you work on.
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