It’s important to remember that some of these managers are the same ones who, before using the shared system, were required to step outside their own expertise and manage their own inadequate IT systems. “What we’ve been able to do is allow organizations to use staff for what they’re there for originally and do what they’re good at,” Mackey says. “That was one of the attractions for our clients.”
Not having to manage those IT systems has alleviated a lot of pain and freed up time in provider organizations. For example, patching the systems—as sure an occurrence as death and taxes—used to be a nightmare every time it came up because each organization had to manage the project without help. Now, NEP handles it painlessly.
NEP does a bit of customization for clients when necessary, such as interfacing with in-house systems. But Mackey has found that most members have very similar needs. That’s how the consortium can pull together so many disparate organizations and please them all with one set of applications.
“What you’ll find is that every organization is convinced that they’re very different, but we’re all quite similar in reality,” Mackey says. “We would add cost and complexity unnecessarily by pursuing variations we don’t need.”
Cutting Costs Visibility of current costs and future projections is critical to NHS providers. Without such visibility, it’s difficult for an organization to even know the true cost of providing care—not to mention keeping that cost in check.
Pam Matthews, senior director of healthcare information systems at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, recalls considering these issues on a trip she took to the U.K. several years ago. “I was struck, at that time, by the challenge of what they had to do to effectively run their healthcare system,” says Matthews. “They needed to have very detailed, discrete data around the services that are delivered, the cost of the services, the components of those costs, and actually start tracking that information to roll it up to aggregate data reporting for stats and cost analysis—all so they could actually determine what was the cost of the service delivered.”
To help providers keep a close eye on costs, NEP is now offering Oracle Hyperion Planning, a performance management solution that supports data analysis, sophisticated forecasting and budgeting, and service-line reporting. It gives consortium members a real-time, detailed view of business operations and how they affect financials. Managers can quickly collect data, produce reports, identify trends, and make smarter decisions faster.
But tracking costs is only one part of the equation. Procurement is a great place to create new efficiencies, and NEP has virtually revolutionized organizations’ procurement processes by offering Oracle iProcurement and by providing the consortium with a catalog management service. Built on Oracle technology, it enables consortium members to leverage their combined spending power to negotiate lower prices with approved suppliers. Through the Oracle system, organizations purchase goods such as office equipment and clinical supplies and the services of NHS nurses. But just as important, the system provides consortium members with aggregated expense data, which supports strategic purchasing initiatives by lowering the cost of supplies, thereby improving the efficiency of delivering public-service healthcare.
Suppliers benefit, too. Now that consortium members have an integrated, automated workflow, the entire process—including payment—is faster and more efficient. In fact, more than 65 percent of all nonpay spending is now processed electronically.
Clinical Future With so much success in helping clients streamline financial processes, NEP is looking to leverage Oracle software to improve its clients’ clinical operations.
The organization is preparing to launch a shared service based on Oracle CRM On Demand. Although customer relationship management (CRM) is typically used to help for-profit companies increase revenue per customer, Mackey envisions deploying Oracle CRM to help NEP provider members dramatically increase the quality of patient service.
“We want to use this technology to keep track of patients and understand their interactions with us and how their condition is progressing over time,” Mackey says. “Again, we want to offer that to the rest of our partners, where organizations can choose to plug into a system without having to go through years of acquiring skills and spending the money to get to that point. I would like to see it go live with pilots in 2010.”