NEW REPORT: The State of CLM and AI-Powered Contract Intelligence

Healing the Divide:  Contract Intelligence Strategies for Healthcare Workforce Conflicts

October 30, 2023 By Jennifer Conner

The healthcare industry has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years, with staff shortages leading to long hours, less-than-ideal working conditions, and ultimately burnout. The culmination of these factors has led to the wave of conflicts and even strikes we are now seeing across the country, placing the terms and conditions of employment at center stage. 

Resolving these conflicts and arriving at labor agreements that all parties feel are fair and workable requires an enormous amount of human effort that can’t be automated by technology—new labor contracts aren’t something we can just ask ChatGPT to write!

That said, healthcare organizations should not overlook the role technology can play as they work to overcome these challenges while ensuring that patients continue to receive quality care. This includes cloud-based contract management software. Indeed, there is even a place for AI in these labor talks, even if not in the way envisioned above.

Here are a few areas in particular in which advanced, AI-powered contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology can help:

Quickly assessing and analyzing data prior to negotiations

A common frustration that organizations face with their contracts is they simply don’t have access to them when they need them. Instead, they might be stored away on local shared drives or even in email inboxes.

CLM addresses this challenge by creating a centralized repository for all contracts, with access automatically granted to provisioned users based on information security rules. This makes it easier for healthcare organizations to have full visibility and accessibility to review employment agreements, labor agreements, and any vendor agreements related to labor services when they need to. Centralizing contract data also opens the ability to apply AI to rapidly surface insights from across the contract portfolio.

The ability to tee up all applicable legal and regulatory requirements that must be adhered to during a strike can help ensure compliance with labor and union laws as well as any other relevant regulations.  

The ability to tee up all applicable legal and regulatory requirements that must be adhered to during a strike can help ensure compliance with labor and union laws as well as any other relevant regulations.

As healthcare organizations engage temporary staffing solutions in the event of a strike, a centralized contract repository can also help them understand the various staffing agency and vendor agreements that are in place or highlight the potential gaps in service agreements they need to address.  This level of visibility can help facilitate quick communication and negotiations with the vendors they will rely on for interim support.

More advanced solutions on the market allow healthcare organizations to track vendor performance against what they agreed to in the contract -- as well as the associated cost and financial impacts for planning and execution purposes—to ensure they get they are getting everything they agreed to even as attention is focused on resolving the labor dispute. 

Improving negotiation and decision velocity

As conversations advance during contract negotiations, it is critical that communication and documentation are prioritized throughout the conflict. Nothing bogs down contract workflows like siloed communications and version control issues.

 A robust CLM streamlines communications and redlining by highlighting the areas within an agreement that are impacted by changes, centralizing communication around contract language, tracking the proposed changes in language back and forth between the parties for collaboration and negotiation, and maintaining version control for any future reference.

CLM also facilitates collaboration among various internal departments and stakeholders that might be involved in managing or adhering to newly negotiated terms with streamlined workflows, approvals, communication, and any relevant associated documentation.  Ensuring that there is full transparency to the decisions being made in a timely fashion as events are quickly unfolding.  As a by-product, an audit trail is created for all strike-related contract activities with associated accountability.

Post-execution management, execution, and monitoring

Once a new contract is in place, it is imperative to be able to scale and adapt quickly to the new language and get sign-off on the new terms across your various employment agreements. 

Advanced CLM systems can be set up to connect “parent” contracts with associated agreements; when a change happens to the parent, updates flow to all impacted agreements. This might include adjusted work schedules, updated patient to clinician ratios, or a new care coordination model that aligns back to appropriate scope of practice. This frees up an enormous amount of staff time and eliminates errors.

Quickly updating agreements after conflicts are resolved also ensures all new obligations and requirements are followed immediately. This can go a long way in rebuilding relationships and trust.

Robust contract analytics can provide insight around agreed upon performance indicators as well as ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance and support open communication around the changes that have been implemented.  These insights can be used to help inform future contract negotiations to meet the evolving needs and expectations of healthcare workers and the health systems.

Final thoughts

Contracts define how healthcare organizations and labor work together to deliver for patients. While recent years have seen unprecedented strain on our healthcare systems, it has also seen the rise of advanced technologies that can eliminate errors and free up much-needed staff time.

By ensuring contract compliance, maintaining legal and regulatory standards, effectively communicating, and negotiating with vendors, stakeholders, and staff, updating terms and tracking against performance, a CLM supports a successful transition back to normal operations.  Ultimately, allowing for health systems and their workforce to get back to providing stability in the delivery of quality care to the patients they serve together. 

To learn more about Icertis’ tailored contract intelligence solutions for healthcare providers, visit our product page.

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