– June 11, 2012
Seth Godin in his wonderful blog recently wrote about Emergency room doctors in organizations. These are the people that are really good at, and are rewarded, for stopping bleeding. Seth is questioning where is all the strategic thinking to prevent those emergencies in the first place? In claims we tend to hire and support that emergency room doctor mindset. As Seth states about these doctors, ”
It’s a mindset, not just a job.
You can pitch them as hard as you like about having them work to persuade their patients to give up smoking (after all, it saves lives in the long run), but I think you’ll find that they’re a lot more interested in stopping the bleeding.
Claims departments seem to be more interested in stopping bleeding than preventing it in the first place. We hire those specialists and reward those that can deal with the crisis as quickly as possible. Unfortunately we in claims don’t spend enough time trying to prevent the causes of the crises. Again, as Seth writes:
We need emergency room doctors, no doubt. I just wonder if we have too many of them in your organization. If all we do is reward fast first aid in what people do at work, is it any wonder we don’t have enough attention to the strategy and choices that would eliminate the need for all that running around in the first place?
So what can be done? How does one change the mindset? Well I will tell you so keep reading…
Prevention Is Not That Difficult If You Try
Prevention does require a base of knowledge and to “know how prevalent the emergency room culture is” within your organization. There are two simple ways to have your organization stay ahead of those emergencies and that is conducting an operational assessment and to develop an active internal review program.
1. Operational assessment: Take stock at where your organization is. When mired in the emergency room mentality it is easy to loose perspective. The operation seems to be getting along so what could possibly be improved. Or my favorite statement of “we’ve always done it that way and there is no time to change.” Is that really how you want your department to function?
Organizations change. Technology changes. Businesses are evolving. If you don’t assess your operation from time to time and look for possible areas to improve you are destined to continue the emergency room approach. At the very least, take a look at those repetitive tasks such as bill payment and taking in new losses to see if there there are opportunities to improve. Explore the technology offerings in the industry and see what if anything is available to enhance the ability of claims professionals to do what they are supposed to do – analyze files, set reserves, move cases to resolution and doing it all over again.
2. Internal Review Program: An active audit program to review for best practices is one of the best tools available to learn about your organization and ensure claims departments don’t get mired in the that emergency room approach to management. A regular program sets out the expectations for a review and creates comparative benchmarks to measure for future reviews. This of course is enhanced when the process is clearly defined and the review is consistently executed. Conducting regular reviews is a sure way to ensure emergencies don’t happen.
You Are Not Alone – Help Is Available
At Lanzko we work with clients to perform these operational assessments. I strongly believe that having someone that is detached from your organization is the best way to identify issues that may be ripe for improvement.Sometimes employees are too close to a problem inside an organization to identify it. Bringing Lanzko in can also help move change along. Let’s face it. No one likes change, especially Corporate America. But sometimes change is needed, and we can help “get the ball rolling.”
From an audit and internal review perspective, Lanzko’s The Audit Portal is a tool designed to help manage those internal reviews, create consistency and create benchmarks to become a more strategic organization. With a tool in place, Audit data is not just lost to a spreadsheet or attached as an appendix to a report. There is great information being lost in the traditional audit. We change that and provide meaningful, actionable information to improve operations.