Data And Metrics: Improving Departmental Efficiency

At the top of mind for many executives within the healthcare industry is the use of data. However, many leaders in this arena lack clear direction regarding how to gather and use such information effectively. This piece addresses the question of how General Counsel within the healthcare industry can effectively use data to improve efficiency within their departments and thereby provide more value to their companies.

Data And Budgets

Data can be used in a variety of ways within the corporate legal department. A strong example is benchmarking data relating to the work of the legal team against the values of the company. For instance, if the business prioritizes attracting, keeping, and growing talent, analyze data regarding how long hires in your department last and where they go next. Of paramount importance for many legal departments is budget solvency. If there is a need to trim a budget or slow expense growth, in-house counsel need to set financial standards at the beginning of the fiscal year. Each quarter, you can use data to see how your team measures up to goals, as well as how budgetary changes impact your department’s functions. At the end of the year, present the findings to key stakeholders. If a tightened budget significantly hampers your department, articulate the problems of not reversing this trend.

If a tightened budget significantly hampers your department, articulate the problems of not reversing this trend.

Using Data To Understand Risk

Measuring legal risk is also useful; however, few in-house law department leaders see a clear path to measuring risk with data. Fortunately, there are methods to quantify risk and changes in the company’s risk profile over time. As General Counsel, it can be extremely valuable to gather data regarding risk and use it to train and mange staff, as well as to advocate outside the department for more resources or changes in behavior. Use data to categorize risk, measures adverse incidents, and score performance in mitigating risk. From there, you can develop suitable risk management or response plans with more content. Then after implementation, gauge whether the relative amount of each type of risk has decreased by comparing against your growing repository of historical data.

Use data to categorize risk, measures adverse incidents, and score performance in mitigating risk.

Data And Outside Counsel

In evaluating outside counsel, using data to ensure value for spend can be an important tool. One of the best ways to determine if outside counsel justifies your investment is to compare their costs to the costs of performing such work internally. For your in-house counsel, add up the cost of salary, fringe benefits, and other relevant factors—perhaps with help from colleagues in HR—and compare these figures against the rates set by outside counsel. If the billable time significantly exceeds what routine work would cost if performed in house, consider pulling work back into the department, or at least have a conversation with your outside counsel about their value proposition. As a further step in the direction of optimizing your spend with data, be sure to keep accurate records of your in-house team’s work, including through the use of time sheets—at least for an initial data-gathering period. The more data that informs your hiring and outside spend decisions, the better.

The more data that informs your hiring and outside spend decisions, the better.

Conclusion

Legal departments in the healthcare industry have much to gain through the effective use of data and metrics derived from that data. Employed well, data can help General Counsel to preempt or mitigate risks, as well as to get a better handle on and improve spend. Perhaps most importantly, General Counsel can help the legal department to appear as a proactive team player that is focused on improving its performance like other important functions of the business.