07/08/2021

By Sandy Khoury

At Sendero, our team focuses on cultivating collaborative partnerships, because we believe that is how you get the best results tailored to your definition of success. Over the past year and a half, Sendero has been engaged with symplr, focused on symplr Directory (formerly Phynd), where we have driven process optimization and standardization, and supported system operationalization at their clients.

With Provider Data Management being a hot topic in the healthcare space, Principal Amy Goad and I sat down with Keith Belton, VP Strategy and Partnerships at symplr, and Daniel Ruyter, Corporate Director of Digital Marketing Strategy at Orlando Health, to understand the benefits which symplr Directory, a provider data management platform, provides to its clients. The discussion focused on the data governance challenges faced by Orlando Health, during their system implementation as well as the strategies deployed to overcome those challenges.


Tell us a little bit about symplr Directory and the universal solution this platform has set out to provide for clients in the healthcare industry.

Keith: “symplr Directory was founded to solve the fundamental challenge that all provider organizations face – inaccurate and poorly maintained provider data kept in numerous silos. Poor provider data quality impacts operations across the enterprise, from the consumer experience to patient access to care coordination to revenue cycle. symplr Directory offers a centralized provider data tool used by health systems to curate and distribute providers’ data to systems that need it. symplr Directory’s provider and location profiles are continuously updated both by feeds from trusted systems and by updates made by hundreds or thousands of staff who are granted access to update profile elements that that can improve through a well-defined data governance framework.”

Describe Orlando Health and what brought you to symplr Directory.

Daniel: “Orlando Health, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $6.8 billion of assets under management that serves the southeastern United States. We found symplr Directory as a byproduct of a problem we were trying to solve – having messy physician data. We were leading the charge when it comes to the consumer experience, especially from a digital perspective; but when we put our shoes in that of our customers, it was challenging to find a physician. We didn’t really have anyone that owned physician data from a public facing perspective. Marketing and IT found symplr Directory and tried to use it as a tool to bring all Physician data together.”

Orlando Health Boiler Plate

What value did you get from your symplr Directory implementation?

Daniel: “We are still realizing value from the implementation. We now have a system that we refer to as the system of record for physician data. We still need to understand [the] ownership aspect of it.

The big win is we have one place now where provider data can live if we need to distribute it to downstream systems. There is still a lot of opportunity is the bottom line.”

What were some data governance challenges you faced?

Daniel: “We have been in progress with symplr Directory for quite some time now. The tool came before the governance, which is probably common. In pockets, we identified that this was something we needed to solve and, like many other organizations, we started with the technology before the organization or the process and we are still working out the governance. It’s not clear necessarily who should take a leading role and who should be a stakeholder. If I had a magic wand, I would go back a couple of years and emphatically remind [our] team that the tool does not solve everything. It can facilitate a governance discussion, but if you don’t have processes and workflows, or if they are flawed, the best that a tool can do is shine a light on those. We have had wins – Marketing relies heavily on symplr Directory. No tool fixes everything, and I wish everyone would’ve been more aware of that going into the process.”

What were some of the strategies you have implemented to overcome the data governance challenges?

Daniel: “We ultimately stood up a physician data governance team, led by the VP of Customer Experience and myself. We pulled together teams that had a vested role or interest in the data and the process (Marketing, Customer Experience, Call Center, Orlando Health Network, which is our ACO, Managed Care, Med Staff, Employed Physicians, Practice Operations Leadership Team) and did educational pieces for those groups. Participation is important – we wanted to make sure these teams understood they have a role and interest in data governance discussions.

Making it decision-driven was another key strategy that was important for our governance. Once everyone realized what symplr Directory was and what its capabilities were, they started to see what their role in the ecosystem would be. The discussions and meetings for governance are now focused on updates and decisions, and that’s pretty much it. That pivot has been incredibly valuable to make sure that members of that governance team know their time is being well spent participating in that structure.”


Considerations for Addressing Data Governance Challenges

Daniel’s experience with data governance challenges at Orlando Health is not uncommon, and we’ve helped multiple clients navigate similar situations.

As mentioned, a system implementation doesn’t directly cause data governance challenges, but it does often pull back the curtain on those challenges and shines a bright light on them. Below are our top four recommendations and tactics to alleviate data governance challenges:

Sandy Khoury headshot1. Start with understanding the why. Provider Data is important to healthcare systems, and having provider data that is inaccurate compromises the patient experience and could lead to financial repercussions such as denied insurance claims and delayed re-imbursement. Understanding the importance of provider data to a health system ensures a focus on how the application will be using the data. By drawing the big picture and then honing in on the details, you are able to better understand what data is required by the application and why. System implementations can get complex and busy, and it becomes increasingly easy to lose sight of the “why”. The focus is instead on getting the data and uploading it into the application. By understanding the why and keeping it front and center to the implementation, you ensure that you are not just getting the data, but that you are getting the right data.

2. Understand your data inputs and how they relate to each other. Once you have a clear understanding of how and why the data will be used, another key aspect to account for is understanding your incoming data. Data, and sometimes the same data, can come from multiple sources such as marketing, credentialing, and your EHR which can lead to conflicting data values that could negatively impact billing, insurance processing and patient experience. Understanding your ecosystem of data sources and components, as well as determining system hierarchy and override rules is critical to a successful implementation.

3. Identify key stakeholders and engage them early in the process. Assemble a data governance committee and define clear roles and responsibilities. Identify your data owner(s) which are distinct from your application owner(s) but are highly collaborative. While the application owner(s) are responsible for ensuring the system functions as intended, the data owner(s) are responsible for the information contained within the application. Ensuring the right stakeholders are involved, actively engaged and held accountable is key. Additionally, educate stakeholders on data governance, its importance, and the risks of ineffective governance policies and processes.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Embed data governance in your organization’s DNA and make it a topic that is communicated often. Communicate the importance of provider data management to your corporate staff, providers, facility administrators, and other key users within your organization. Educate them on the importance of the application housing the data as well as their role in ensuring the data is correct. Establish clear feedback channels to the application owner and empower your staff to communicate if they have concerns, challenges or updates. Additionally, make sure physicians are informed when there are changes to the system so they can proactively refresh information and get their concerns addressed.

Regardless of the size of your healthcare system, or the types of services you provide, having effective data governance policies and processes is critical to effective Provider Data Management. This is a key success factor to delivering the best experience for your patients and providers.

To learn more about Orlando Health, visit their website.

To learn more about symplr Directory, visit their website.

Poor provider data quality impacts operations across the enterprise, from the consumer experience to patient access to care coordination to revenue cycle.

Keith Belton, VP Strategy and Partnerships at symplr

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