Preparing Your Organization for a Move to the Cloud
Moving to the cloud can be simplified when you build based on clean, accurate, and aggregated data. The three steps here are directed at healthcare providers, but the principles are equally applicable to enterprises in other fields.
- By Chris Luoma
- December 22, 2022
In the face of ongoing revenue and margin losses, the healthcare industry has accelerated its adoption of more modern, advanced technologies (such as cloud-based ERPs) to drive greater efficiency across business processes.
For healthcare providers, migrating to a cloud-based ERP will help enable greater cross-functional collaboration across finance, supply chain, and clinical teams, allowing them to spend less time on administrative tasks such as tracking down inventory and more time caring for patients.
Making the switch from on-premises to the cloud isn’t easy. My experience is in the healthcare industry and the steps I explain here are written for healthcare providers. However, the concepts I'll discuss can be applied to other industries looking to migrate their systems to the cloud.
How to Maximize Cloud Migration Success
Data is essential to meeting today’s healthcare challenges such as accelerating the shift to value-based care and improving supply chain resiliency. Accurate data helps healthcare organizations more effectively evaluate performance, budget, and forecast; remove bottlenecks in the OR; and accelerate value-based care efforts.
It’s imperative to start planning early to create a data strategy that’s based on reliable data sources and automation; it also includes good data governance. In healthcare, that means beginning with the item master which stores the entirety of a hospital's inventory and contracted item data, including product descriptions, dimensions, price, product identifiers, clinical attributes, and item categorizations.
The item master data continuously changes throughout the year, making it challenging to manually verify and validate information and data sources. A modern item data strategy helps unify and give meaning to data across departments so everyone can make more informed decisions based on a single source of truth. In healthcare, this starts with a clean item master.
To ensure a successful migration, follow these three steps to ensure your item master -- or any data in your organization -- can be the best it can be
Step 1. Invest in automation
Healthcare data is complex and has been historically siloed with massive amounts generated from many sources, including supply chain applications, electronic medical records, external databases, IoT networks, and smartphone apps. Removing inaccuracies and redundancies can help proactively address supply chain disruptions. However, with constant changes and multiple data sources, accurately doing so is time-consuming, reactive, often difficult, and leaves room for human error. Restructuring existing processes to eliminate as many manual tasks as possible will help streamline success as a healthcare organization moves to the cloud.
Automation is essential to meet the demands of today’s healthcare data landscape. It’s faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective than manual processes. Automated data cleansing and standardization helps avoid bringing irrelevant or duplicate data into an ERP system, thereby avoiding the downstream operational inefficiencies caused by inaccurate data. Additionally, automation can shift from using an already-stretched supply chain team (spending hours on data tasks and reacting to changes) to a proactive data management team that can rapidly identify coming changes, monitor data quality, and leverage technology to identify product substitutes or recalls.
Step 2. Encourage collaboration
Data management is not an IT-only endeavor. It’s important to make sure that everyone who interacts with the data and insights of the cloud-based ERP -- from clinicians and supply chain teams to finance and HR teams -- understands why accurate and up-to-date information is vital. In addition to providing support for clinical and financial decisions, the right data provides critical support across all departments to help leaders make informed decisions when budgeting and caring for patients.
A cloud-based ERP system enables hospitals to break down information silos between key departments and extend supply chain capabilities beyond the four walls of the hospital. However, this means the same item data will be used in multiple business processes. Asking for input across the organization regarding the context in which item data is used is important. For example, clinical staff using item data for documentation and supply capture works with different data attributes and product descriptions than a supply chain buyer who is working to procure alternative supplies in the event of a back order. Cross-functional collaboration and input about the use of data allows an organization to take full advantage of cloud ERP functionality and the efficiency it can bring across clinical, finance, and supply chain operations.
Step 3. Strengthen supplier relationships
With the right data, a cloud-based ERP solution provides healthcare leaders with needed visibility into their supply chains, including what items are on backorder and when vendors are expecting to ship items. This kind of dynamic data from suppliers helps providers be more proactive with their demand planning and avoid last-minute cancellations for clinical services.
Just as collaborating internally across teams is vital to ensuring accurate data, so is working with suppliers and other third parties to help ensure any data related to the business is up-to-date, accurate, and complete. There are many steps an organization can take to achieve supply chain data accuracy. Upgrading data management systems, integrating data between supply chain and clinical systems and building partnerships with solution partners and suppliers are all good places to start. Data sharing between trading partners can also help support a more transparent, resilient healthcare supply chain.
Taking the Final Leap
Embracing the digital era and migrating to a cloud-based ERP system is an expensive endeavor that requires careful planning. A cloud-based ERP system will only be as valuable as the data within it. It’s vital that leaders create a strong data foundation powered by automation, collaboration, automation, and strong relationships.
When done correctly, a cloud-based ERP system will provide healthcare organizations with data that’s comprehensive, precise, trusted, and actionable to help them achieve the patient and financial outcomes they desire.
Chris Luoma is the senior vice president, global product management at Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX). He leads the procure-to-pay, credentialing, and business intelligence product portfolio teams and has overall responsibility for the Vendormate subsidiary. Prior to joining Vendormate, Luoma served as director of product marketing for Bottomline Technologies, working with clients and market thought leaders to make payment and document-centric interactions between customers, suppliers, and employees more productive and efficient. Luoma's responsibilities have spanned customer service, consulting, sales, strategy, product marketing, and product management. Luoma is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.