Process Owners & Social Productivity – Changing Corporate DNA

While these concepts can be applied to all industries (see Harvard Business Review Blog “Lessons from GE’s Approach to Personal Productivity“), the daunting complexity of moving to new health care data interchange standards such as HIPAA 5010 and medical coding standard ICD-10 suggest the traditional process owner and new social productivity concepts could converge for significant gain to enable cost savings, productivity improvement, and ultimately faster adoption and implementation of electronic health care record technologies.

As hospitals, and other health care organizations review their practices and begin to make changes to meet the needs of regulatory legislation, patients and payors, the roles and responsibilities of employees at all levels are affected. To support process-centered environment, management roles must be re-aligned to support the key processes. The need for strong leadership and regular communication are important, as is the role of the process owner. Social media can be used to help, and in fact the most serious social media minded companies are working to rewire their corporate DNA to function very effectively as a social computer, although we have seen nothing like this yet inside of health care companies.

Here is a look at the two concepts.

Social productivity has been defined as the “…efficient conduct of social interactions, management of social relations, and collaborative social activity.” It has also been argued that social productivity is a form of inter-personal exchange founded on the idea of reciprocity using wikis, workflow, and other media inside a corporation to encourage greater sharing and contributions to collective work. As the activities are socially valued, efforts are expended in return for monetary or non-monetary rewards. Strong internal motivations for engaging in activities, including the need for self-agency and for self-esteem may help explain why people stay involved in activities, which may not offer monetary rewards commensurate with effort.

Process Owner

The Process Owner is the person “…who is responsible to design the processes necessary to achieve the objectives of the business plans that are created by the Business Leaders.” The Process Owner is responsible for the creation, update and approval of documents (procedures, work instructions/protocols) to support the process. Many Process Owners are supported by a process improvement team. The Process Owner uses this team as a mechanism to help create a high performance process. The Process Owner is the only person who has authority to make changes in the process and manages the entire process improvement cycle to ensure performance effectiveness. This person is the contact person for all information related to the process.

The responsibilities of the Process Owner follow the Plan, Do, Check, and Act Cycle.

Plan: The Process Owners create and own the process performance objectives of the organization. The Process Owner first needs to understand the external and internal customer requirements for the process. This person uses the business plans as a source to help understand the long term and short term customer and business requirements. This person translates these requirements into process performance objectives and establishes product (includes service) specifications. This person establishes process performance metrics to measure the process’s capability to meet the product specifications and overall process objectives.

The set of metrics that are to be reviewed by Operational Managers and Process Operators are called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The Process Owner then designs process steps to describe work that when performed will have the capability to produce product that meets the customer and business requirements.

Do: The Process Owner is responsible to communicate to the Operational Managers the details of the processes that the Operational Managers are responsible to execute. As the Operational Managers and Process Operators perform the processes, the Process Owner is responsible to build bridges and remove barriers that will allow the process performance objectives to be met. The process performance metric data is produced and collected as the process is performed by Process Operators. The Process Owner is continually involved with the Operational Managers and Process Operators as they use Kaizen to continually improve the process as they are performing the work.

Check: The Process Owner periodically analyzes the process performance data and use it to visualize the process’s capability to operate within control limits over time (performance trends), compare actual performance against performance targets, and identify performance issues.

Act: The Process Owner is responsible to create improvement actions to address the performance issues that are identified during their analysis of the process performance data. Improvement actions may include the initiation of Lean projects to reduce waste from the process or projects to reduce variation in the process. Improvement actions may include the use of problem solving tools that would include risk assessment and root-cause analysis. Risk assessment is used to identify and reduce, eliminate, or mitigate risk within the process. This is the proactive approach to avoid problems being created from the process. Root-cause analysis is the reactive way to respond to problems that occur from the process. Root-cause analysis is used to identify the causes of problems within the process and identify and implement improvement actions that will ensure these problems do not occur again.

Key Lessons

Compare your calendar with the priorities. Label the purpose of every regular or recurring activity on your quarterly calendar and highlight those activities that are connected with your top five priorities. This simple exercise will reveal where you’re squandering your time.

Be ruthless. Instead of persuading yourself why you can’t give up the time you’ve been devoting to underperforming operations or overly demanding customers that seem important even if they aren’t connected to a strategic priority, start with the attitude that you simply cannot deal with them anymore. In some cases, you’ll realize that you’ve been treating the symptoms of the disease and should finally cure the disease. In others, you’ll discover that the task will provide a growth opportunity for someone else.

Ask your team to do the same. Then discuss together how jobs could be recast and how the group as a whole could better spend its time. Make it clear that everything can be challenged — down to the PowerPoint slides presented regularly at meetings. Do you really need 20? If you could only have, say, two, which ones would they be?

Make time for your people and yourself. When you’re rebuilding your calendar, be sure to include quality time for your team to get together to brainstorm about the strategy, the organization, and new opportunities.

Last but not least, absolutely include time to pursue personal priorities that will help you grow and make you more valuable to your organization.

health care process improvement, electronic health record, electronic medical record, management consulting, human and investment capital, outsourcing. Specializing in health care, financial services, education, renewable energy, retail.

Michael F. Arrigo

Michael is Managing Partner & CEO of No World Borders, a leading healthcare management and IT consulting firm. He serves as an expert witness in Federal and State Court and was recently ruled as an expert by a 9th Circuit Federal Judge. He serves as a patent expert witness on intellectual property disputes, both as a Technical Expert and a Damages expert. His vision for the firm is to continue acquisition of skills and technology that support the intersection of clinical data and administrative health data where the eligibility for medically necessary care is determined. He leads a team that provides litigation consulting as well as advisory regarding medical coding, medical billing, medical bill review and HIPAA Privacy and Security best practices for healthcare clients, Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records. He advises legal teams as an expert witness in HIPAA Privacy and Security, medical coding and billing and usual and customary cost of care, the Affordable Care Act and benefits enrollment, white collar crime, False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback, Stark Law, physician compensation, Insurance bad faith, payor-provider disputes, ERISA plan-third-party administrator disputes, third-party liability, and the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSPA) MMSEA Section 111 reporting. He uses these skills in disputes regarding the valuation of pharmaceuticals and drug costs and in the review and audit of pain management and opioid prescribers under state Standards and the Controlled Substances Act. He consults to venture capital and private equity firms on mHealth, Cloud Computing in Healthcare, and Software as a Service. He advises ERISA self-insured employers on cost of care and regulations. Arrigo was recently retained by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding a significant false claims act investigation. He has provided opinions on over $1 billion in health care claims and due diligence on over $8 billion in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Education: UC Irvine - Economics and Computer Science, University of Southern California - Business, studies at Stanford Medical School - Biomedical Informatics, studies at Harvard Medical School - Bioethics. Trained in over 10 medical specialties in medical billing and coding. Trained by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and PTAB Judges on patent statutes, rules and case law (as a non-attorney to better advise clients on Technical and Damages aspects of patent construction and claims). Mr. Arrigo has been interviewed quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and National Public Radio, Fortune, KNX 1070 Radio, Kaiser Health News, NBC Television News, The Capitol Forum and other media outlets. See and for more about the company.

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