by Sharon Edwards

The Challenge

A leading healthcare provider recently completed an internal audit of its new Pharmacy Inventory Management (PIM) system, and found the numbers didn't add up. The audit identified multiple, significant issues to be addressed, including system problems that caused inaccuracies in financial statements. Adding to the challenge, the company had recently completed an M&A, and had yet to comply with the internal auditing policies of the acquiring company. Any fixes to the PIM system would need to align all levels of leadership—including the C-suite, VPs and Executive Directors—on compliance policies and procedures across both the acquiring and the acquired companies. As the client engaged us, the pressure was on to correct all regulatory compliance issues.

Collaborate to accelerate

The audit's findings ranged from system design flaws and errors in the General Ledger to insufficient training, controls and security. These issues adversely affected the patient experience, operational efficiency, financials management, and compliance. We knew the solutions would include many different types of change, from system updates to new business processes. Such a wide range of interdependent issues called for collaboration by teams that were not used to working together.

We quickly created common ground with a charter for collaboration that gained quick sponsor agreement on goals, challenges and risks. We identified leaders for each group that would create plans to solve the audit issues, and assigned the issues with eight work teams. Within two weeks, we had brought together all the right people and established a cadence of regular meetings that united work teams with leadership. We held a series of working sessions to define success. For each audit finding, we created a one-page summary of the steps to correct it, and the metrics and controls that would be used to define and measure what it meant to be "done." By uniting diverse groups to accelerate decisions and resolve issues, we were able to execute some quick wins, which built confidence and momentum across the organization.

Solving issues; adding value

In the course of solving the audit issues, we saw that some employees needed to be realigned to their appropriate roles and responsibilities. For example, nurses who spent hours managing the pharmacy inventory are now able to refocus that time on patient care. To ensure continued realization of value gained, we also implemented processes and procedures for ongoing operational monitoring and reporting. Finally, we captured our approach in a playbook that gives our client a proven, repeatable process to address future audits—and stay in compliance.