Remote-Based Tools: Essential to Optimizing the Business of Healthcare

As I sit here in San Francisco, drinking tea and looking around my new office space — a recently converted walk-in closet — I reflect on the trials and tribulations of working from home. Like many employees across the country, my transition to remote-based employment is more akin to ripping off a band-aid than a thoughtful, gradual rollout of new processes and capabilities. One day I was crowding around the office’s proverbial “water cooler,” engaging with my peers and having meaningful discussions about the work at hand. Today, I am staring at a distributed team through my laptop, patiently but acutely aware of Internet buffering, streaming delays, and individuals who forget where the mute button is. 

My situation is obviously not unique. Not only are all of my peers and friends in the same boat as me, but the industry that I know and love is suffering from the same remote-based challenges. Overnight, the entire healthcare administrative apparatus of the country (with a few exceptions) shifted from a meeting-heavy, people-centric operating model toward a work-from-home approach. In short order, this jarring disruption has strained the ability of teams, managers, and leaders to execute essential business activities. Few organizations had prepared themselves pre-COVID to maintain business continuity during these unprecedented times.

Since the advent of the Digital Age, healthcare has been comparatively slow to adopt new technologies and innovations that either improve end-to-end operating models or minimize wastes of both time and cost. Hospital administrators usually explain away this reality by offering a litany of well-documented reasons: Fear of cyber breaches, limitations associated with HIPAA, and — my personal favorite — “We’ve always done it this way, so why would we change?”

Indeed, change for the sake of change is not the best business strategy. Executive graveyards are littered with folks whose “business case for innovation” never fully materialized. However, an unprecedented pandemic that challenges the very nature of how health systems function seems like the right time to reconsider the previous “business as usual” attitude.

As I said earlier, healthcare is a meeting-heavy, people-centric industry. This cultural imprint manifests in two unique ways, which seem contradictory but are in fact mutually reinforcing:

  • The Committee Structure: Committees govern across myriad functions at a typical health system, whether large or small. Committees may consist of dozens of stakeholders, and each committee-based decision may rely on those stakeholders to weigh in with input and feedback. Whether it’s the decision to recruit a new physician practice, the proposal to rationalize and consolidate vendors, or the evaluation of a long-term business obligation, the committee structure reigns supreme…no matter how functional or effective it may actually be.
  • The Informal Network: Given the slow speed with which the wheels of bureaucracy typically turn at most organizations, organic and informal communication systems naturally arise. Although these are never documented and are known only to those with institutional equity, informal communication channels like “fly-bys” or “pop-ins” become the way business gets done. Beyond the purview of the committee structure, it’s these informal communication avenues where socialization occurs, alignment takes place, and decisions are made (although, yet to be ratified).

COVID-19 has disrupted these traditional channels for discussion and decision-making. Casually peeking into a colleague’s office to discuss a tricky proposal is difficult to accomplish in our new normal. Moreover, convening a committee to discuss possible cost reductions is even more complicated.

But the fact remains that many of us in healthcare share the same esprit de corps: How we do something is just as important as what we do. This means we want to ensure our teams are set up for success while also supporting constructive dialogue, sound decision-making, and transparent, results-based management. We want to be able to continue to perform our sometimes-manual, often paper-based activities in a technology ecosystem that enables us and our teams to get the work done.

Whether directly or indirectly, we are all performing work that meaningfully impacts patient care; that work is not going to stop because of a pandemic. As we aim to adapt to our new realities, however, options exist to continue driving critical-to-mission work forward. Organizations and their leaders do not have to tackle the challenges of COVID-19 alone. Rather, they can engage trusted brands with a legacy of success to assist along the remote-based and recovery journeys.

At TractManager, we may not have every solution to support the totality of a health system’s needs right now. However, we have unique offerings and industry experts who can help you, your team, or your organization weather the remote-based working pathway. Our solutions drive productivity, increase alignment, and improve engagement — no matter where a stakeholder may be. 

Our solution suite includes capabilities that streamline the remote-based work for Contract Management, Medical Staff, and Supply Chain teams. We enable these teams — and their peers — to optimize essential administrative and operational responsibilities, supporting critical-to-mission activities and tasks. Our capabilities enable key stakeholders and leaders to remain on the same page, on the same task, and on point to get through this crisis both today and tomorrow.

We are here to help you. Reach out to our team to schedule a free discussion and consultation. You are under no obligation to sign up for any software or additional services. Rather, we are here to meet you where you are and offer guidance that’s most appropriate and relevant to your goals and objectives.

We look forward to speaking with you.


Mark O'Connor, MHSA, MPP

SVP Product Strategy & Growth

Mark O’Connor is a seasoned healthcare executive with more than a decade of leadership experience.


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