Correcting the problems that have developed over decades at Pauls Valley General Hospital is no small task, but as each of the problems is examined, positives that can be expanded upon are found each day.
Helping to make the most of what good is found is interim CEO Jim Clough, who took time recently to give updates on the biggest struggles, namely those on the financial side
The chief executive officer noted how the audit process is progressing at a decent pace thanks to the help of a local accounting office. He also offers his thoughts on what went wrong as well as how to fix a shaken billing system.
“The first thing I wanted to accomplish as soon as I could was just get a financial statement on each of these business units that you operate out there so that we can see where we are on the operational side,” said Clough. “We’re going to go in and identify key performance indicators.”
Clough explained that fixing the problems when it comes to issues like debt and revenue will need to start at the very beginning and involves looking at the quality of work being done as soon as the patient registration process begins. He recommended starting with their insurance card, scanning it and obtaining the copies to verify up to date information each time.
“What that does then is keep that flowing and we’re not trying to correct errors when we discover it down stream,” said Clough.
“You’ve got key steps from the time you admit a patient… You miss one of those steps or you have a breakdown, you’ve lost control of that process and it then becomes manual and it is very time consuming and ties up your money at least 60 days.”
Clough also expanded on the problems he has seen through PVGH’s failed attempt at an electronic medical records system and noted how while he was not here to witness it at the time, he has seen through previous employment that if it is not properly installed or completed, it can turn into an out of control problem quickly.
He noted how it is really hard to turn around if it is not done right the first time and in cases where he witnessed a failure, a lot of it had to do with not having good project management and people experienced enough to get it installed.
The long term solution is another attempt to get a billing system that is entirely electronic, since it is a federal requirement they cannot avoid. This could mean going with the same records program they tried before or something entirely new, all dependent on what a careful examination determines.
“What we’re trying to do is get someone who knows what they are doing and examine the system,” said Clough. “Make recommendations on how to move forward.”
There was even some good news to report about the hospital’s operating room at the council meeting earlier this month, something that has been awaiting a plan of correction before it can be put fully back into use.
Clough noted how there are two plans that will be put in place, one that offers a short term solution to at least get things running in a matter of weeks and a long term idea that could be less expensive than what the hospital authority initially feared.
“We’re going to hardwire accountability into each one of those steps… You might have a little bit of money here tied up and you might have a little in another area tied up and pretty soon you’re talking about a whole lot of money that’s not getting paid,” said Clough. “What we want to do is change this from having the anxiety way down the road three or four months after we provided the services to being very proactive up front and throughout the entire process.”
Editor’s note: More on Clough’s thoughts on issues like a hospital sales tax will be featured later in the PV Democrat.