Lean Thinking and the Art of Creating Value in the Screening Industry

By Kim M. Kerr, CEO, TyphoonDATA

I am a firm believer and activist for Lean Thinking in any business I have worked in since the day I heard of the simple, commonsense approach to the workplace improvement process.  This includes the Screening and Data businesses.  Finding or creating a value stream for customers or clients has become a passion for me.  I had the opportunity to work with some great companies in the data and screening world that have embraced this approach to management and have seen dramatic improvements in the work environment, culture, and top and bottom lines of businesses of all shapes and sizes.  This process is an integral part of the culture at my current company.

I came from an investigative and event security background working for AT&T for many years performing internal investigations, event security including the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, leaving in 1998 after another “reengineering” that resulted in 15,000 managers getting the option for a benefit and retirement “buy out”.  I had seen literally years of downsizings and reengineering projects while managers struggled to catch a falling knife.  I watched thousands of workers either get laid off or reorganized into other jobs or departments in an attempt to find a level that could be supported by the customers.

What finally happened a few years after my departure was a series of mergers, sell offs and eventually a sale of AT&T to one of the Regional Telco’s.  The AT&T trademark, a brand known round the world, was garnered by this new business that is now a strong player in the cellular and business communications market.  It survived by being cut to ribbons over time.  The old AT&T died a death of a thousand cuts.

I have two family members who work in the manufacturing industry.  One is an Operations Manager for a packaging company; the other is an HR Manager for a bedding firm.  I was the Vice President and General Manager for LexisNexis Screening Solutions at the time and as I listen to those two use strange Japanese terms like “Gemba”, “Kaizen” and “Muda”, I began to wonder if Lean Principles would work in the screening and data business.  After some research I started putting this process in front of my Directors.  The results were incredible and the Principles of Lean are now an integral part of the DNA of any company I lead.

The topic is much too big to be covered in an overview article but I can give you some valuable concepts to think about.  First of all I used the term “big” not complicated.  Understanding the value your customer needs and wants from your products and services needs to be understood, articulated and embraced by all of your employees from the CEO to the rank and file.  This is defined as the “Value Stream”, a river of value that flows to your customers.

Along the stream is Muda or waste.  As an example, I was at a client location and saw employees standing around the copier.  They were creating copies of information to be used in the daily work.  I then noticed that all the work stations had two screens but the line was forming from a subset of the workers.  I asked my client what they did and he responded that they were involved in a value stream that fed into the screening report for several key clients.  It was a process outside the normal workflow.

I exclaimed, “Muda” to my client pointing at the copier clutch.  We looked at the wasted time of these employees standing by a copier.  The employees used that as a high tech water cooler to discuss last night’s game and where they were going after work.  So by just walking around the workplace or “Gemba” a trained observer saw a process improvement or “Kaizen” opportunity that had been gradually embraced as “just part of the process”.

The ultimate solutions was to review these processes in detail and the solutions which required a queuing change in the operations software and installing a third screen at two workstations, reassignment of two employees to other pressing processes.  In other words the value was doubled and waste was halved.

So here is my simple recommendation:  Buy a couple of books, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by Womack, James P. and Jones, Daniel T. (Nov 23, 2010); and Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy 2/E by Masaaki Imai (May 23, 2012).  These books have a good framework for instituting Lean thinking into your business.

Have a meeting with your directors or lead managers and follow a few simple steps:

1)      Walk around the Workplace or “Gemba” and observe your employees.  Look at things like the workstation set up, which teams interact with which teams, use of ancillary devices like copiers or email processes.

2)      Ask your key managers what are the top three problems they spend most of their time on during the day?  Ask all the leaders to describe the issue.

3)      Pick one based on the biggest impact to one of the work groups.

4)      Break it into steps or Kaizen the process.  If need be, bring a “doer” into the discussion.

5)      Develop a theory of how the process could be changed and how the process can be measured.  If it can’t be measured, how can you know if you are successful?

6)      What is the investment in the change? – Development time, Project Management, outside resources.

7)      Make the changes.  Measure your success.

8)      Wash, rinse, repeat…

I also recommend instituting an accountability board in all your operations managers’ offices.  What is due in the next 24 hours?  Who is responsible and what is the deliverable?  I call this, “Moving the Ball”.

If you have a process you like, great!  But if you can’t seem to get your margins to grow or you are continually adding people during the good times and laying off others in the slow times, you may be a victim of the reengineering mind game.  Lean Thinking is anything but that.

There are companies or organizations Lean Thinking will NOT work.  It is in companies where the top leadership believes that all real good ideas and processes emanate from the top.  The Lean ship will sink on the sharp rocks of EGO surrounding the crystal tower of pure thought and reason.

Kim can be reached at KKerr@typhoondata.com

 

Top 5 reasons why providers make the OIG Exclusion List

It is a common assumption that the majority of providers on the OIG List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) arrived there by defrauding the Medicare/Medicaid systems. It turns out that program related crimes are the second most common reason for exclusion. The most common reason why providers are excluded is due to license revocation or suspension. Below are the top 5 exclusion types and their descriptions:

OIG_breakdown

Drilling down on why a given provider’s license was revoked or suspended is not always easy. The reasons for these revocations and suspensions are many. Often times, the notes or minutes coming from the state licensing board do not specify a reason as the relinquishment may have been voluntary. Additional digging is often required to get the full picture.

Let’s look at an example:

Malissa Bender, was recently excluded on the OIG List. She was excluded because the Florida Board of Pharmacy granted a “Voluntary Relinquishment of License” tendered by the provider in October, 2013. Additional internet research reveals that Bender was arrested in July 2013, for stealing schedule II and III drugs from the Pharmacy where she worked. (see story)

With over 25,000 providers excluded for type 1128b4 you can see how tedious case-by-case research can become to get to the bottom of each exclusion. Fortunately, in most cases, simply knowing that the provider’s license is suspended or revoked should be enough for most employers to take action. In some cases, the reason for revocation or suspension will not be due to criminal action, or any other reason known to the employer. This fact emphasizes the need for employers to monitor an employee’s license and exclusion status.

TyphoonData offers solutions for license and exclusion monitoring.

If you would like to discuss our thoughts and solutions, give us a call at 800-780-5901.

TyphoonDATA Releases Powerful Capabilities to Assure Exclusion and License Monitoring Exceed Compliance Requirements

TyphoonDATA continues implementing its rapid automation and delivery model for exclusion and licensure source data search, monitoring, and verification for the healthcare and long term care markets.

Orem, Utah (PRWEB) May 15, 2014

TyphoonDATA’s discussions with health providers’ leadership and compliance organizations offered a consistent set of requirements from the onset. Dan Decker, Chief Operating Officer shares, “The market was clear in what they wanted and were not finding: access to comprehensive and expanding core and optional search and monitoring source data; comfort knowing these data are current, accurately presented, and complete; optimized verification processes from reductions in false positives, saving time, money, and worry; and predictable and cost-effective pricing.”

TyphoonDATA is fulfilling on these requirements and more. Questin Francis, Chief Technology Officer, continues, “We are not constrained by prior investments in technologies, and as such, are able to automate a significant number of processes that are done manually elsewhere.”TyphoonDATA’s data acquisition, normalization, and presentation is highly scalable. It optimizes consistency and quality, supports rapid acquisition and launch of additional data sources, and provides a platform for continuous expansion of services at greater speed and accuracy while containing costs.

“While exclusion and license monitoring is not unique, the way TyphoonDATA delivers is,” offers Kim Kerr, Chief Executive Officer. “We continue to expand the highest quality, most comprehensive background and compliance data sources and tools available through collaborative client relationships and continued improvements in automation and delivery. In doing so, TyphoonDATA provides ongoing monitoring more economically, more frequently, more completely, and more accurately than other options.”

Why should you check the STATE data as well as the FEDERAL sources!

Recently Bloomberg Businessweek published an article entitled, Why Medicare Keeps Paying Sketchy DoctorsBy John Tozzi, David Armstrong and Caroline Chen. (May 1, 2014). In this article the authors discuss the sometimes loose data pass from the States to the Federal regulators data sets. Tozzi specifically references Gary Ordog, a California Doctor who is on the California Department of Health Care Services Medi-Cal, Suspended and Ineligible Provider List but not currently listed in the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. A quick search of TyphoonDATA’s Standard Product returns a result for Dr. Ordog, meaning that this is an individual that may require additional research before you hire, contract or privilege.

Since my entry into this area of screening, I made the incorrect assumption that the data that originated at the various state levels transitioned into the various Federal repositories like HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and became a part of the LEIE listings. Although improved, they are not quite there as the article points out.

For those of you in the traditional Screening business, this is similar to county criminal data that moves to a state repository. There is sometimes a delay or it doesn’t quite make the pass.

In screening those individuals in the hiring motion or compliance motion, organizations are still using sometimes overlapping sources to make sure a problem is not invited through the door. So checking all the various sources is a business imperative especially with the new mandates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) better known as Obamacare.

Although Exclusions are only published in the Private Sector in only 32 States (and growing!), the need to ensure your search effectiveness your provider needs to be aggressively layering the data sources and identity mapping. The data might be there, but the searching algorithms may be less than optimal.

TyphoonDATA has a solution we call our “STANDARD” product that would mitigate this happening at your organization. Give it a look!

If you would like to discuss our thoughts and solutions, give us a call at 800-780-5901 or contact me at kkerr@typhoondata.com.

Introducing TyphoonDATA, the Powerful New Alternative for Exclusion and Licensing Data Products

TyphoonDATA announced today that it has launched its innovative products and services for the healthcare and long term care markets.

Orem, UT (PRWEB) April 18, 2014

Founded by executives with decades of experience in screening and compliance, TyphoonData applies the latest technologies to improve timeliness and effectiveness in these healthcare processes. Kim Kerr, CEO states, “We found in conversations with industry leaders that a void existed that we knew we could fill. By working closely with the market and most importantly our customers, and through unmatched application of today’s most current technologies and processes, we provide the most accurate, timely, and cost effective alternative that far exceeds the typical expectations that are commonly found in the marketplace.”

TyphoonDATA collects comprehensive data sets and applies compliance, investigation, and due diligence best practices. The initial focus matches customer-supplied data against federal and state exclusions/sanctions sources to improve compliance results and license verification and monitoring. “We foster an environment of continuous process improvement in cooperation and collaboration with our customers,” adds Dan Decker, COO. “We have already identified and are planning a long pipeline of other data and underserved customer requirements that we intend on providing.”

“We pride ourselves in effective application of technology and services that exceed customer requirements and improve the industry,” adds Questin Francis, CTO. TyphoonDATA also provides an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which can be used for candidate onboarding, enrollment, volunteer screening, tenant screening, pre-employment screening, and medical credentialing tracking.