Implementing a Contract Management System in Healthcare Organizations

Implementing a Contract Management System in Healthcare Organizations

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on November 23, 2021

From employment, to care transfer, to experimental treatments and telehealth, contracts are integral in many areas of healthcare. However, before the onset of COVID-19, a staggering 96% of American health systems and provider organizations reported having an outdated and inadequate system, or worse yet, not having a contract management system at all. That’s a scary statistic considering the importance of these organizations’ work; when patients’ well-being and privacy are at stake, implementing a contract management system is crucial. 

The Importance Of A Contract Management System

Improves Efficiency

Without an automated contract management system, contracts can be a huge burden on a healthcare organization. Instead of focusing on their other duties, hospital staff ends up spending their time hunting down signatures and reminding people to review documents. By implementing a contract management system, these bottlenecks can largely become a thing of the past. A contract management system will not only send reminders to review automatically, but allow you to collect signatures electronically, significantly speeding up the process. Plus, a solid contract management system prevents employees from having to recreate contracts when it isn’t necessary; instead, they can build a template for all contracts with similar terms and conditions, reducing the time spent drafting new documents. The best part? Once you’ve perfected the process, you can replicate it for future contracts. 

Minimizes Risk

Healthcare contracts aren’t the place for errors, as the partnerships they create are essential to the delivery of high-quality patient care. The problem is that people make mistakes; we’re imperfect by nature. While remembering to renew one or two contracts may be doable, when you’re dealing with upwards of a thousand different forms, it becomes close to impossible. Luckily, automated workflows all but eliminate the possibility of human error or a missed renewal. With a contract management system, you’ll always be reminded before the date to renew passes, preventing agreements from expiring without your knowledge.

Enables Teamwork

Contract management is a collaborative process, yet it’s difficult for parties to work together on these documents without a solid system. And when multiple versions of the contract pop up (as they tend to do) things only get more complicated. Implementing a contract management system largely solves these problems. The system should be able to keep versions organized (ensuring everyone is working off of the same document), allow multiple people to review and approve simultaneously, and foster the real-time negotiations necessary for a faster, more efficient workflow. 

Provides More Visibility 

Not only do contract management systems mitigate risks, increase efficiency, and allow for better teamwork, but according to Aberdeen, a digital contract management system improves compliance by 55%. To start, a digital system will allow you to utilize checklists so no compliance requirements slip through the cracks. Perhaps even more important than that, however, is that these systems provide visibility into your contract management process. If and when your healthcare organization faces an audit, you’ll have a clear record of all actions taken on your contracts, and you won’t have to scramble to find them — they’ll be stored in an easily accessible, centralized library. 

Best Practices For Implementing A Contract Management System

The Role Of Executive Teams

Like with all new technologies, successfully implementing a contract management system requires the support of executive teams. To convey that support, healthcare executives first and foremost need clear communication, as sending mixed messages to staff members will end in less-than-ideal outcomes. Everyone on the team should be on the same page about the need for the new platform and how to go about its adoption. Plus, it should be evident who is in charge of what. By having clearly defined roles and responsibilities, you enable a much smoother adoption of the new system, as employees will know exactly who to turn to when they need assistance. 

In addition, part of executive support is providing the resources necessary for adoption. To make sure everyone understands how to use a new system, you’ll want to offer comprehensive trainings on it. But of course, trainings take time, and in most cases, they aren’t free. So, executive teams will need to allocate some of their budgets to teaching people how to use the new technology, and they’ll need to give employees time to learn the system as well. While this may seem like a big investment, it’ll be worth it. Trainings ensure everyone understands how to use the platform, allowing for fast adoption so you can start seeing an ROI sooner. 

Migrating Contracts

Migrating contrast may be more complicated than you’d expect. Contracts that aren’t managed by a digital system could live in numerous places, and you may find that some of your contracts exist only in paper form. If that’s the case, you’ll have to digitize the file before adding it to the system. 

Eventually, you’ll want to move all of your contracts over to the contract management system, but since it isn’t typically possible to migrate them all at once, you’ll have to prioritize. The most important documents, the ones that should be migrated first, are active documents necessary for compliance (such as HIPA forms). Once all of those contracts are moved to the new system, follow them with the remaining active contracts, and last, transfer over your inactive contracts. 

Reviewing And Updating Workflows

Implementing a contract management system requires you to rethink your workflow completely, as every step in the process will look a little different due to automation. In most cases, this will call for a new standard operating procedure (SOP) around contract management, covering every step in the process — contract creation, internal collaboration, external negotiation, approval, signature collection, and renewal. By documenting and publishing the SOP, employees throughout the organization will be able to utilize the same updated workflow, reducing inconsistencies and allowing for a more transparent process. 

Contract Management With ComplianceBridge

The importance of a comprehensive contract management system can’t be overstated; they improve efficiency, mitigate risks, enable teamwork, and provide visibility into the process that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. If you’re thinking about updating your contract management system, look no further than ComplianceBridge. With dynamic organization, workflow staging, version control, automatic reminders, and layered security, ComplianceBridge provides everything healthcare organizations need to manage their contract lifecycle without the complexity. Request a demo today to learn more!

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