Hospital Legal Teams: 6 Pain Points Solved With An Action Plan

With relentless healthcare pressures, burnout is everywhere. Legal Departments are looking for a better path forward - an Action Plan can help!

Hospital legal teams are under more pressure than ever to get faster, better, and more cost-effective in their service delivery. With relentless healthcare pressures and expectations, burnout is everywhere, and Legal Departments are looking for a path forward.

We were recently joined by Dan Hiser, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer at Bryan Health, and Scott Rosenberg, Managing Director and Corporate Counsel at Unbiased Consulting, for a dynamic workshop dedicated to helping hospital legal teams develop an Action Plan to identify, rank, and resolve six common pain points around:

👁️ Visibility
📣 Noisy and demanding clients
👉🏼 Accountability
💵 Budget
🔍 Finding information
📊 Demonstrating value

For each pain point, the Action Plan Template for hospital in-house legal teams prompts you through a series of straightforward steps:

  • Who is impacted?
  • How are they impacted?
  • Rate the Severity (0/5)
  • Identify options to solve
  • Identify the cost/effort to solve
  • Prioritize for resolution

While there are several options offered to solve each pain point, the most effective is often that which offers automation, time savings, and reduces the administrative burden on the legal team. Matter management may be the gold standard, but if your team is not quite ready for that step, the Action Plan will help you pave an alternate path forward in the interim.

1. Visibility

If you struggle with understanding who is doing what and for whom and when it’s due, you’re not alone. 🤯

Developing an in house legal software to manage, prioritize, and deliver the legal department’s work is a growing focus for hospital legal teams. Centralizing matter information into a single source of truth provides much-needed visibility, helps reduce chaos, manages workloads, avoids duplication, and identifies efficiency opportunities.

Easy, right? Well, it certainly can be. How do you get there? 🤔

Options include:

  • Matter management
  • Excel spreadsheet
  • Word doc
  • Daily meetings
  • Other _____________

Mr. Rosenberg recommends that teams start with a “vision and understanding of the process.” In other words, what does your ideal matter workflow look like for your legal team? Those who are doing nothing to track work may want to start with a basic spreadsheet to glean some initial data. If you’re looking to reduce manual data entry, however, then a simple matter management system could be quite effective to manage your process.

After struggling to increase visibility by manually managing spreadsheets and lists, Mr. Hiser recently turned his focus to legal matter management. For Mr. Hiser, the benefit of maintaining a prioritized matter list in real-time provides “peace for those who thrive on order.” Quickly identifying the work and who’s doing it allows Mr. Hiser to better manage his and his team’s capacity and set expectations for delivery rather than “saying yes to everything, which can ultimately result in self-ruin.”

visibility over legal work with a matter management software

2. Noisy and demanding clients

It’s no secret that hospital and healthcare legal teams service clients with time-critical decisions in high volume.  This often creates a voluminous “quick question” environment for the Legal Department, and hospital legal teams are increasingly looking to simplify access via a friction-free path to Legal that allows for collaboration and turn-around efficiency.

Cue legal intake. 🎬

Legal intake can take various forms, including in-person meetings, phone calls, online forms, or other communication channels. The challenge is to wrangle them into an efficient and thorough process or automated system to ensure that legal services proceed smoothly and effectively.

Options include:

  • Legal intake system
  • Legal intake process
  • Self-service on FAQs or simple documents
  • Other _____________

Legal intake is one of the most common requests by in-house legal teams looking to modernize their departments. Mr. Rosenberg noted that “Legal Departments are very focused on creating a mechanism to better define the information that is needed for Legal to do its work.” Ultimately, implementing an intake system of some kind will “lead to faster results and more informed and timely communications.”

Mr. Rosenberg went on to highlight another key benefit of a legal intake system: “acknowledgment.” Once the information has been triaged, resourced, and assigned a modern legal intake software will notify the requestor and “acknowledge they’ve been heard and provide a timeline for work to be done.” This, in turn, reduces anxiety on the business side and allows for more robust collaboration.

Legal intake via a single repository email inbox created “leakage that led to waning use” for Mr. Hiser’s team, which ultimately drove him to search for a more reliable process. Mr. Hiser set a goal to “develop a process that is repeatable, uniform, and user-friendly” and made a move to matter management to achieve it.

3. Accountability

What hospital lawyer hasn’t been jolted awake at 4 a.m. worried that something has fallen through the cracks? When something goes wrong, what happened to whom, the parties involved, and the circumstances surrounding the event all become the subject of scrutiny. Accountability for actions taken and decisions made is critical.

The solution is a clear audit trail about the information received and any advice, recommendations, or responses the Legal Department provided. For Mr. Rosenberg, it all comes down to process again. “The documents are there, the emails are there, the data is all there. The question is how do you find it in a coordinated way?” Best practices dictate pulling it all into a centralized cloud based legal software where it is easily accessible if needed.

Options include:

  • Matter management
  • Document management
  • Improved reporting
  • Other _____________

A centralized repository of documentation and advice provided is the key for Mr. Hiser to avoid the 4 a.m. “white knuckle moment – a situation no Chief Legal Officer wants to find themselves in.”

managing legal budget

4. Budget

Healthcare budgets are under pressure - not much of a news flash, but certainly a daily headline for every hospital legal team. In this climate, cost savings and productivity improvements for Legal Departments are essential to deal with legal budget pressure.

Options include:

  • Spend management
  • Excel spreadsheet
  • Billing Guidelines
  • Approval workflow
  • Other _____________

Managing your legal budget is easier if you track your costs in real time. This allows you to know when you are over budget and action immediately.

For Mr. Rosenberg, it starts even earlier. “By the time we’re talking about invoices, it’s too late. It all starts with proper scoping. The real work is about budgeting up front for the work to be performed and how well those firms did that planning.”

A simple matter management or legal spend management software will provide you with real-time budget information at a low cost and high return and can help relieve the manual burden of email-driven approvals. Billing guidelines can be VERY simple things that ensure invoices are correct the first time and make your administrative burden lighter.

Mr. Hiser added, “Even if guidelines are established, you need a line of sight for what the firms are doing and when they’re doing it.” Real-time visibility “helps your relationships with law firm providers and reduces how much you question billing. No second guessing.”

5. Finding information

Whether it’s searching for the final, executed copy of a contract, legal research you know has been done before, or historical matter updates, time wasted on finding critical information – current or historic – can be measured by its opportunity cost.  Teams need to focus on doing the actual work of the Legal Department rather than searching for information needlessly.

As Mr. Hiser commented, “You don’t want to be in the business of chasing your own advice.” He added, “living in your email inbox is a real mess – that’s where we carry information and it’s not dated or organized.” In terms of team morale, “it’s a huge dissatisfier and major time suck which accounts for a measurable percentage of time wasted.”

Options include:

  • Matter management
  • Document management
  • Daily meetings
  • Other _____________

A single, central source of truth on all matters will solve many pain points. You can enjoy instant relief by tracking simple information such as:

  • Name of the request
  • Business unit and person requesting the information
  • Category of work being done
  • Date required

To build depth in your matter information, add status notes, documents, tasks, and deadlines. These details will provide invaluable insights to yourself and other members of your team who can access it at their fingertips.

6. Demonstrating value

“I just need one metric to inform about what the legal team does.” Sound familiar? Demonstrating Legal Department value is high on the C-suite radar these days. As Mr. Rosenberg aptly stated, “All GCs need to demonstrate value – the threat to the legal department comes from within as a cost center.”

Options include:

  • Capture data – lots!
  • Capture data – 3 metrics
  • Monthly reporting
  • Regular executive meetings
  • Other _____________

Metrics matter but determining which data to record can be daunting for many in-house teams.

To that point, Mr. Rosenberg advised to start simply: “Capture data points at the matter level and work your way up from there. ‘How many of this or that’” is a good place to start. It’s an iterative process that develops based on the feedback from your stakeholders. For example, once you’re comfortable tracking ‘how many of this or that,’ if you record when you receive work and return work (automated with a matter management system) you can effectively communicate ‘turn-around time,’ which helps set expectations and build credibility.

Mr. Hiser’s CEO recently indicated he wanted to get to the point where the organization can measure the value of legal. “How are you meeting the needs of the clients? What are you guys involved in?” Mr. Hiser was tasked with telling Legal’s story through data and “evolving the legal function into a system-driven legal department that sits in a strategic role.” In turning to matter management, he sought the ability to generate analytics “to quantify what that value looks like to the organization.”

With the right metrics, you can transition your Legal Department from a reactive to a proactive strategic partner in your hospital or healthcare organization. Developing your Action Plan will set you on the course to success!


Build your in-house legal action plan now

Watch our webinar on demand and hear further insights from the experts and download your action plan template now to get started.. You can also download the white paper to learn the six common pain points hospital and healthcare legal teams face.

To learn more about Xakia's legal matter management software and how it can solve your most common challenges and pain points, get in touch with the team today for a demo.

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