Monthly Archives: October 2015

Improving Legal ROI with Information Governance

Improving Legal ROI with Information Governance

Information Governance (IG) is a defining feature of legal firms. This involves the correct management and assessment of client information or personal data to allow legal practices to maintain privacy while ensuring their firms show positive growth.

IG initiatives must have structure behind them to show reasonable growth. Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) of a legal firm’s IG will ensure that legal resources spent on IG apply to the areas they’re needed most: improving employee productivity, reducing overhead, and creating better risk management.

Information Governance Return on Investment

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Measuring ROI

To measure the success of legal initiatives, the right metrics must be used. These Key Performance Indicators (KPI) offer quantifiable data about current legal practices and highlight areas for improvement. These KPIs are typically measured by their financial impact and involve tracking the actual costs associated with implementing better IG.

Digital Efficiency

Part of tracking the ROI of IG efforts means monitoring billable employee hours to identify points of redundancy. Multiple employees working on a single account may individually search for information at the same time as their colleagues, creating inefficient information management practices hard to track without a structured IG plan. For the best improvements in ROI, a single employee can be appointed as the sole custodian of client research and information storage. Better delineation of duties is one of the simplest changes that legal firms can make to improve the state of their IG.

Information Management

Information storage costs are cheap compared to paper files that require physical management, but the upkeep associated with digital use has several hidden costs. Data maintenance requires extra effort from IT to catalogue, backup, and restore digital copies of legal files. Legal firms must know of these hidden costs when determining accurate metrics for their ROI assessment. Storage fees, staffing expenses, and e-discovery costs all contribute to overhead that can be reduced with better IG. Decreasing electronic information stored can bring down the staffing costs associated with its upkeep and improve employee efficiency by reducing administrative clutter.

Reducing inefficiencies and creating better organization is the heart of stronger IG. If your legal firm is interested in the administrative savings and efficiency that can be found with an information governance audit, contact iBridge LLC for an audit of your current information practices.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decision Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

iBridge NewsletterInfo Gov eBook CTA

Holistic Improvement: Why You Need It and How It Helps

Holistic Improvement: Why You Need It and How It Helps

More often than not, the determining factors between quantity and quality of improvement are approach and implementation. Numbers increasing month-over-month resulting from strategic lay-offs, product streamlining, or introducing new markets is often expected and easily assessed. Conversely, improvement issues and subsequent opportunities can be difficult to understand and alter if not evaluated holistically.

The Holistic Approach to Improvement

Too often, individual departments or branches operate in their own bubble. Resource sharing and big picture communication is seldom implemented to benefit the organization, and as a result improvement quality can suffer.

Holistic Improvement: Why You Need it and How it Helps

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Employing a holistic approach to improvement and treating your organization as an economic ecosystem means viewing each separate entity as part of a moving, living and contributing piece of the puzzle. Developing improvement strategies that not only benefit the organization, but that can also be implemented at multiple levels is essential to forward momentum.

Contributing Components of Holistic Improvement

It’s synergy and cooperation you’re looking for, and addressing key components in a holistic approach to improvement can be done through multiple facets.

  • Leadership – Being in a leadership role means taking responsibility and initiative. Leadership must be a priority, not just a position. Often, quality improvement is made when leaders motivate employees and help direct paradigm shifts within an organization. 
  • Strategic thinking – Strengthening strategic thinking and focusing efforts on a few intelligently conceived improvement tactics over multiple sub-par methods can prove longer lasting and more impactful.
  • Vision and culture – Creating an operational roadmap or blueprint that outlines clear expectations and improvement goals is invaluable when trying to articulate an organization’s quality vision. A clear vision is needed to successfully cultivate a quality improvement culture.
  • Mission critical problems – Organizing multiple quality improvement projects that focus on specific-yet-complementary areas of an initiative is often the best way to solve complex, multi-faceted “mission critical” problems.
  • Big Data implementation – Use of Big Data resources to fuel a quality improvement culture offers insight into solving previously unsolvable problems.
  • Product/process robustness – The human factor still proves to be the largest source of variation within a system. Developing product and process robustness to counterbalance human variance helps safety net an improvement culture. 

It’s important to develop and apply holistic improvement methods when evolving your organization’s quality culture. While consumer tastes and employee competency can transform over time, improvement never goes out of style.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge NewsletterBack-Office eBook CTA

Healthcare Costs Preventing Entrepreneurship

Healthcare Costs Preventing Entrepreneurship

The costs of healthcare in the U.S. are typically higher than most developed countries (around 70 percent more as a percentage of GDP, according to Forbes), yet there are few positive results to show from this trend. Life expectancy in the U.S. is lower than other developed countries with similar demographics, and the high costs associated with privatized healthcare may prevent the growth of industry.

Private Healthcare Challenges

A 2015 survey by the Harvard Business School found that healthcare costs were a significant barrier to entrepreneurship in the United States. Sixty-four percent of U.S. respondents viewed healthcare as a barrier to enterprise, compared to only 28 percent of non-U.S. respondents. This trend likely relates to the challenges of working within a system in which private companies are the sole healthcare providers. Many employees can’t afford to lose their insurance coverage by quitting their jobs to expand their business—creating a unique situation known as “job lock” where employees are tied to the industries that keep them insured instead of feeling free to explore their creative business pursuits. This issue is less prevalent in the E.U. and other nations that offer government-sponsored health care. When employees can move from job to job without fear of losing their insurance coverage, a major barrier to enterprise is reduced.

Healthcare Costs

Image courtesy of Phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Employment Fit

As globalization of the free market increases and the lines between industries blur, the value of workforce flexibility becomes apparent. “Industry-switchers” are becoming more common as employees utilize Internet-based job searching options that allow them to find jobs that suit them (or begin an enterprise on their own). This flexibility is critical to workforce productivity—employees experiencing job lock will likely face the reduced morale and efficiency that accompanies being stuck in an industry that prevents the full expression of their abilities.

Many think of the U.S. as a leader of technological innovation, but these innovations may fall short in aligning the goals of their workforce with new growth of entrepreneurial fields. Private healthcare has its place, but its use often restricts employees from making necessary job placement decisions that may have economic repercussions down the road. For building a healthcare system that supports its workers instead of obstructing them, the U.S. still has a long way to go.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge Newsletter7 Things About Medical Identity Theft Healthcare Executives Need to Know

Staying on Task and the Reason Your Team is Failing

Staying on Task and the Reason Your Team is Failing

Whether due to lack of communication, insufficient resource allotment or a missing sense of self-importance, seeing your team fail to stay on task is frustrating. Productivity in the workplace is essential, and when work doesn’t get done it adversely affects everyone. Fine-tuned teamwork and unimpeded collaboration is rare, but it’s far from impossible.

When You Take Your Team for Granted

It takes more than gathering together an IT department or establishing a legal committee to grow a successful team. Leadership means promoting significance is just as vital as outlining tasks and forecasting results.

Staying on Task and the Reason Your Team is Failing

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Workers must feel important. As fundamental as that sounds, it’s common for groups to meet regularly and accomplish little. When teams are taken for granted or established on a whim, maintaining the status quo is often all you can manage. Meeting attendance becomes an accomplishment, and killing time becomes an expectation.

How to Make Team Members Feel Significant

Direction, liability and forward-thinking momentum are often forgotten when team meetings are seen as routine and unproductive. Employing tactics that are technical-yet-fundamental to productivity is often all it takes to course correct a wandering team or jump-start one that’s failing to make progress.

  • Agendas – Do team meetings take place around an outline of issues and areas of concern? Far too many weekly gatherings are roundtable reviews in which employees briefly sum up the previous week’s progress. Once everyone’s had their turn, meeting adjourned. Agendas are meeting roadmaps that give team members a clear path to follow when assessing past projects or future strategies.
  • Brainstorming – When was the last time active brainstorming took place in the office? Brainstorming is a collaborative combining of qualified minds and departments intending to form new initiatives. There’s freedom in opening the floor to ideas, and a sense of responsibility and importance is felt when ideas are listened to and weighed as viable options. No matter who they come from, regular brainstorming can prove invaluable when integrated into an agenda.
  • Resources – Access to necessary resources can make or break a team’s momentum. Establishing and achieving goals requires time and energy from everyone involved. Management must provide resources just like workers must be allowed to use those resources responsibly.

It won’t happen overnight, but establishing a productive sense of self-importance in your team is possible. When individuals feel like fundamental pieces of an organization’s puzzle, seeing the bigger picture and contributing to success becomes easier and more rewarding.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge NewsletterBack-Office eBook CTA

BYOD: Emerging Threats in a Mobile Workplace

BYOD: Emerging Threats in a Mobile Workplace

BYOD or “Bring Your Own Device” is a growing trend in the business world. As using mobile devices reaches a critical mass—80 percent of Internet users own a smartphone—organizations have allowed employees to work on their devices in search of better job satisfaction and productivity.

According to Computerworld’s 2011 “Consumerization of IT” study, nearly half of the respondents said their organization allows them to work from their own devices, both while at work and away from the office. However, the same survey revealed that 66 percent of respondents felt that their IT departments were ill-equipped to handle the diverse range of devices and platforms being introduced into the workplace. To compound matters further, respondents felt IT didn’t dictate the strategies for organizational security—creating vulnerabilities in a security framework not optimized for mobile use.photo-1423784346385-c1d4dac9893a

Security Challenges

BYOD may create more work flexibility and employee satisfaction, but the practice has drawbacks. Security is the biggest concern for organizations with BYOD policies—security architecture for IT often relies on a consistent infrastructure of hardware and software. BYOD throws a wrench into this plan. Consumers use a wide range of devices that employ varying operating systems and software, creating complexity problems when organizations try to institute top-down security upgrades.

Employees bringing their own devices also means IT has less control over flow of information. With dozens of potentially unsecured devices remotely accessing their servers, IT departments must ensure that users only access the information for their jobs. For many IT organizations, this goal requires a new strategy for mobile security.

Instead of securing each device individually, IT departments must focus on securing each endpoint as they connect to the network. This means that in the interest of organizational security, users must undergo several checks when accessing the server:

  • Authentication: What device are they using? Are they who they say they are?
  • Authorization: How much access does this user must server-side applications and websites?
  • Tracking: What has the user been doing while logged in and what changes have they made?

Instituting these endpoint control systems is necessary for a secure network in a BYOD environment. Users won’t know of the security risks they’re introducing through their mobile devices—it falls to IT to shoulder the burden and keep up with emerging threats in the tech world.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge NewsletterSocial Media eBook CTA

Adopters vs Resisters: Building a Successful Change Management Strategy

Adopters vs Resisters: Building a Successful Change Management Strategy

It’s commonly said that change is the only constant. If that’s true, being in front of the change and steering progress in a desired direction is essential. Front-line leadership is often tasked with implementing change management strategies, and doing so can be difficult depending on which portion of the workforce you’re addressing.

From early adopters and lukewarm wait-and-see demographics to the more difficult resisters or “laggers,” understanding who you’re dealing with and how best to adapt is key to a successful change management strategy.

The Early Adopters

When faced with change, there will always be those who happily embrace the concept and actively engage the challenges. The early adopters need little incentive when introduced to something new, and most thrive with just a little direction and the freedom to do their work.

Successful Management Strategy

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Neutral Wait-and-See Demographic

The neutral wait-and-see demographic is often a very selfish one, meaning change is adopted when personal gain is perceived or when trying to avoid detrimental consequences. This demographic makes up the largest portion of the workforce or product audience, and most can be easily swayed with a little incentive or easy-to-understand consequences.

Resisters and Laggers

The most difficult group to manage successfully around change is the resister or “lagger” demographic. Resisters, both active and passive, whether through choice or lack of interest, are the least likely to adopt policy changes and can prove organizational roadblocks if not managed appropriately.

Responsibility, Training, and Competency

Implementing a change management strategy is a collaborative effort. Creating and relaying the strategy, especially to resisters, is your responsibility as front-end leadership. Understanding and adhering to that strategy is the responsibility of the individual worker.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for management strategies to fail on the premise of miscommunication alone. Procedural changes can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to internalize. Before disciplining an individual because they aren’t adapting to change, it’s important to ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Was that person aware of their responsibilities?
  2. Have they been properly trained?
  3. Does that training translate to competency?

Answering “no” to any of these questions can be an indication that information was miscommunicated, hasn’t been provided, or that a situation deserves to be reassessed. Dishing out disciplinary action should be a last resort, and understanding how best to manage various adopters before implementing change can mean the difference between a successful change management strategy and one that crashes and burns.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge NewsletterContract Management iBridge LLC

ICD-10: Is the Risk Worth the Reward?

ICD-10: Is the Risk Worth the Reward?

The Oct. 1 compliance date for ICD-10 has come and gone, but increased scrutiny is being placed on the transition with providers still questioning whether the benefits of the switch will outweigh the costs.

Why Update?

ICD-10 was originally implemented with the goal of increased coding specificity and billing standardization.

ICD-9 coding dates back to 1979; long enough to make medical professionals believe that the system no longer reflects the needs of an advancing medical community. The switch to ICD-10 will supposedly allow physicians to apply newer and more precise billing codes that are less burdensome to healthcare professionals.

Community Impact

Despite the supposed benefits of the transition, the backlash against ICD-10 is growing. Several industry experts have complained about the viability of the new coding system. John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, noted:

“A few years from now [people] will discover that the whole idea of ICD-10 wasn’t helpful to anyone … ICD-10 was never designed to be a billing vocabulary, it’s an epidemiological vocabulary. It’s the wrong tool for the wrong purpose.”CMS-ICD-10

Harsh Dhundia, director at consulting firm Pace Harmon, echoed these sentiments by describing how the increased number of codes would lead to worsened productivity and lost revenue:

“If a doctor sees a patient … and if there isn’t enough supporting documentation, you’re going to be forced into a lower value code, so you get compensated lower.”

Losing potential revenue is a common concern for ICD-10 critics. Robert Tennant of the Medical Group Management Association commented on how the switch would create more costs for independent clinics:

“The government is not defraying any of the cost; all the costs are being borne by physician practices … you’ve got a lot of skepticism regarding the value of moving to this code set,” he said.

An incoming Transition

While new coding procedures help clinics become more efficient, many practices are vocally opposing the transition. The switch to more coding may help standardize billing across the medical field, but the growing number of detractors indicates a disconnect between the priorities of governmental organizations and private healthcare practices.

The much-touted benefits of the transition may not be addressing actual needs faced by healthcare practitioners. But time will tell the full impact of more diverse coding on the medical industry.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLCWritten by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge NewsletterWhat Healthcare Execs Need to Know About ICD-9 to ICD-10 iBridge LLC

Data Theft and the Business of Cybercrime

Data Theft and the Business of Cybercrime

Cybercrime is a business—and business is booming. Illegal online activity has flourished with the advancement of technology, increasing 10,000-fold over the past twelve years.

But what do criminals do with all this data, and how is it monetized to make it worth their while?

The Dark Side of the Web

The “Dark Web” is source of much criminal activity on the Internet. This network can only be accessed with specialized software, preventing law enforcement and regular user from accessing it. These darknets (such as Tor) may also use additional forms of security to hide their illicit material with encryption or proxy servers that shield user identities.

The secrecy and relative privacy of the Dark Web make it ideal for criminal activity. Think of the Dark Web as a virtual marketplace that only members can access. Cybercriminals can post stolen account information openly to be purchased by the highest bidder. This practice is illegal—and very profitable.

Source: wikipedia.org

Source: wikipedia.org

User data is a commodity on the black market, with each fragment of information possessing an “asking price” to be negotiated.

Research compiled by Dell SecureWorks summarized the price of this data:

  • New Identities, including address, name, and a fake social security card scan costs $250
  • Counterfeit non-U.S. passports costs between $200-$500
  • S. credit cards with tracking data costs $12 each

The Business of Theft

The business of stolen data management is growing—estimates by the Center for Strategic and International Studies placed the impact of cybercrime at 15 to 20 percent of the annual Internet economy. Dell found that many providers of stolen data even had guarantees of “excellent customer service” with promises to replace stolen credit cards cancelled before the buyer could utilize them.

This relates to the “shelf life” of data, and factors greatly into its overall value. Some fragments of stolen data lose value over time as the likelihood of their discovery increases, while other information (like healthcare data used for fraudulent billing) typically remains unnoticed until the damage is done.

Protecting Yourself

While cybercriminals are becoming increasingly adept in their illicit practices, steps can still be taken to prevent data loss. Part of this involves recognizing where data leaks may occur in your organization. It’s not financially viable for many providers to increase security on all fronts, making it essential that businesses identify the weak points in their infrastructure and strategically upgrade their security accordingly.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decision Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

iBridge NewsletterUnderground eBook CTA

CMS Easing the ICD-10 Transition

CMS Easing the ICD-10 Transition

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) aren’t taking the ICD-10 transition lying down.

Providers are voicing new concerns regarding claims acceptance. While EHR interoperability and billing procedures were once the primary transition concerns, providers are now questioning how their revenue will be affected by rejected ICD-10 claims. The mounting tension has caused a public backlash against the ICD-10 transition, culminating in a series of public letters to Congress requesting a delay for the deadline.

CMS responded to these concerns by implementing a new ICD-10 service initiative that pledged to help prepare physicians and healthcare providers for the switch.

picjumbo.com_HNCK9105

CMS Support

The services offered by CMS are fourfold:

  • Instituting a Communication Center: With the massive number of changes that accompany ICD-10, CMS announced that they would set up a collaboration center to address any transition issues that may arise.
  • Allowing a Grace Period: Physician claims processed within 12 months of the ICD-10 transition won’t be denied by CMS, provided that the submission is from the right code family. This buffer will give providers time to adjust to new code usage with less worry of rejected claims.
  • Quality Reporting Flexibility: CMS will protect physicians from quality reporting penalties based on code specificity, as long as the diagnosis used was from the correct code family.
  • Advance Payment: If Part B Medicare Contractors cannot process physician claims in a timely manner, a conditional payment may be made to the provider until the claim has been processed in full.

Bridging the Gap

These services promise new opportunities for coding flexibility and physician freedom during the rocky transition period. Grace periods on submitted codes give healthcare providers time to adjust to their new coding systems without rejected claims or severe penalties. Many of the concerns expressed by providers involved the ways ICD-10 would interrupt their cash flow and day-to-day operations; CMS has tried to publicly address these pain points and facilitate a smoother transition for all involved.

The efforts of CMS to ease the ICD-10 transition come as a welcome change to the obstinate attitudes expressed by other physicians. In an industry where communication, transparency, and collaboration are necessary for success, any initiative that facilitates an easier transition can only be a positive.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

iBridge NewsletterWhat Healthcare Execs Need to Know About ICD-9 to ICD-10 iBridge LLC