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We’ve talked in some recent articles and podcasts about overcoming resistance to data and analytics. The context for that was that we had seen so many times where some implementation is not successful for some reason. Our definition of success isn’t just that it works technically. Further, where we’re able to get data, we’re able to load data. In addition, where we’re able to clean up data, we can deploy an analytics environment, whether it’s some BI instance, data warehousing. The technical part is successful. But then, for some reason, the project is not what we consider to be ultimately successful because it doesn’t get used for various reasons. We’ve found that, often, the hardest part is not the technical part, but the people part.

Put on the pressure

This is a follow-up to that, giving some more flavor to overcoming resistance within an organization, using analytics, and getting it deployed. Often, we will see one part of it used, maybe, in the denials management with denials routing or something like that. But really, people aren’t diving in and using the analytics. So we’ve been trying to figure out why.

One of the things that came up recently (it was pretty funny) was that a billing company gave an example and told us about where one of their managers said that we would be doing something for their organization. They were asked to help us access the data for one of their large clients to do the implementation. That billing manager thought that they were going to have their job taken away, that they were essentially losing their largest client, and that that was the reason why somebody was asking for the data. 

Read between the lines

If their largest client goes away, their job is probably going away. Suddenly, we had to explain, “No, no, no, you’re not losing your job.” The problem frequently is, all these things aren’t necessarily said. So you ask for the data. Somebody goes off to get the data. They try to do work to provide that data to us, and they now suddenly have this thought, “Oh, my gosh! I’m going to lose my job” or “Here we go, again! Some company that’s not telling me everything, and this is all going to go badly for me.” But they don’t voice that necessarily.

The work that we’re doing for this organization will save that manager a lot of time. Scheduled reports that run for clients, for example, automatically and are sent to clients save a lot of work. The old-school way was faxing reports to clients. The slightly less old-school way was to have the billing manager typically go into a system, download reports, and send those to the clients monthly or whatever the period was. 

Use the right tools to save time

So having data warehousing, business intelligence, reporting, things like that can save managers a ton of time. How? If those reports exist and not just already exist but are created automatically (say there’s a period end like monthly, quarterly, that kind of thing) and are automatically sent to the client.

We saw the situation where the managers refused to stop sending reports to their clients even though they already had the report sent to them. So they were duplicating their efforts. There are several problems with this. Of course, the client is getting reports twice and doesn’t understand what’s going on. He’s a little confused.

The other problem, of course, is that managers are wasting a lot of time doing that. The owner of this company had to figure out how to break the pattern and get the managers to stop doing what they had done for ten years. The managers refused to stop pulling reports and sending them to their clients. For six months, they kept doing it. They kept duplicating the effort of what was being done automatically by the system. The company owner eventually threatened to fire any manager who ran reports themselves and sent them to clients for a report that already existed. They finally stopped the fear of losing their job because it came down hard.

Build trust

The root issue of this was a lack of trust. This comes back to what we said earlier in this discussion, which was if you say to somebody, “Hey, we want all the data for this client,” there may be a lack of trust, or there’s fear built in there. The fear and the lack of confidence may come from, “Gosh, I’ve seen billing companies or billing departments do terrible things, where they suddenly outsource all these people to India or something like that. 

Also, “They outsource to a company,” or “The billing company suddenly moves everything offshore.” On the other hand, “They get acquired by another company, and suddenly the office closes,” or “Hey, I don’t trust the system to work successfully. 

If the client doesn’t get the reports, they’re going to freak out, and we’re going to lose the client, and I’m going to lose my job.” All these things happen. Those fears run deep. There have been a lot of issues that have occurred in the industry.

Understand the hierarchy

Even “I’m not going to be as important” potentially could be the root cause of why someone feels that way. If I’m not generating these reports and not communicating with the clients, then part of my importance goes away. One of the things that makes me indispensable is suddenly being automated and taken away.

The net seems like you can kind of lead people to water, but you can’t make them drink. I don’t think that’s really what we should conclude from this. This is the reason why we’re spending so much time on this. It’s the psychology and the emotions of what’s going on with everybody. How do we figure out how to get buy-in, understand, get trust, and communicate clearly so that implementations within analytics are successful? And thriving is defined by “the data is used in such a way that the business improves, profitability improves, client satisfaction improves.” 

So better billing performance means more collections, more money for the provider organization, more money for the billing company, more money for whoever are the stakeholders, and more satisfied users. How do we get to that success point?

Determine the reasons

There are a lot of people in the way to do a lot of resistance. Some of those can even be more experienced billing managers, which are resistant to change. Maybe, they fear they’re not going to be able to handle the technology, things like that. There’s a lot of underlying reasons why this might happen.

The key is to figure out where the resistance points are. Also figure out who the individuals are, and treat everybody like a human who is honest and going through something challenging in how we help and support and make that successful. That’s why we’re spending so much time on sort of a soft side of the business. It seems strange for an analytics company and a data company. Why? Because we want to believe that everything is cut and dry and black and white.

Our mantra is kind of like, “Don’t believe it unless it’s in the data,” except that now we’re dealing with things that aren’t in the data. Yes, we can do polls and research and ask people what’s going on. That’s challenging to get to, so I don’t think sending out a survey will cut it even though that sounds simple and easy, and I would love to look at that data.

Key takeaway

The net of this is, overcoming resistance is challenging, but it can be successful. The examples that we’ve run into are kind of hilarious. So we will try a new approach. What is it? Well, we’re going to try to deploy over the next couple of weeks. Also, we’ll be back to tell you about that one, too.