When an oncology practice joins American Oncology Network (AON), how clinical and administrative operations are brought under the AON umbrella can have a significant and long-term impact on staff, clinician, patient, and community satisfaction. To help ensure a positive and smooth experience, AON’s transition team leverages its deep experience and proven processes to anticipate obstacles and clear hurdles with minimal disruption to day-to-day clinic operations.
A typical transition takes up to four months. And while each transition is unique, over the course of onboarding more than 20 new AON practices we have established a proven formula that is effective, flexible and, most importantly, customer centric.
Project Management at the Helm
The first step in every transition strategy is establishing a dedicated project management team responsible for bridging all communications between the practice and AON. That team also oversees the project roadmap, ensuring all milestones and deadlines are met, managing change and practice expectations, and triaging priorities.
The team is the face of the more than 200 individuals involved in the transition process, each of whom brings to the table a unique set of skills and expertise. It also represents more than 20 departments, ranging from operations and legal to finance and revenue cycle.
The project management team is in constant contact with every individual involved in the transition process and works closely with representatives from the practice, typically office administrators with involvement from physician and clinical leadership.
A 3-Stage Roll Out
Under the guidance of the dedicated project management team, the transition process will typically roll out in three stages:
- Due Diligence: This starts with creating a communications plan that forms the foundation upon which AON’s relationship with the practice is built. This is also when we collect necessary data such as provider, payer and facility information, employee census, contracts, and marketing materials – everything there is to know about the practice and its operations.
- Implementation: Next is acting on the data collected during due diligence. This includes meetings with employees, establishing new contracts with payers and pharmaceutical companies, setting up other legal contracts and assignments, etc. The implementation checklist encompasses more than 1,000 individual tasks which the project management team manages behind the scenes, ensuring every item is completed on time and without overwhelming the practice team.
- Go-Live: At this point, it is time for the clinic to open its doors under the AON footprint. To deliver a positive experience for everyone – including patients – we expand our on-site presence to conduct staff training on new processes and workflows and assist with change management needs. This ensures the practice’s clinical and administrative staffs are proficient with new systems and processes and can proceed with confidence under the AON banner.
Once go-live is complete – the staff is fully trained and there are no more kinks to work out – a regional team takes over for the project management team, remaining engaged with the practice and serving as its dedicated AON liaison for any future needs.
Putting the Customer First
Change is hard, especially when it involves transitioning from an independent practice to one that is part of the AON network. Staff and patients alike will be impacted by the move, which is exacerbated by the growing pains that are change management’s constant companion – especially when the transition means learning new EMR and other information systems.
To calm fears and keep the transition as painless as possible, we put the customer first in everything we do. Each transition is undertaken as a partnership rather than a top-down corporate approach. We focus on the employee and patient experience from the start, for example by ensuring the employee onboarding journey is smooth and providing patients with transparent communications about AON. Finally, we make sure the facility is ready to operate under the AON banner so there are no glitches that can impact the practice’s ability to provide care or patient satisfaction.
Our transition strategy is centered on making sure all practice stakeholders are comfortable with every step of the process. We approach change management with sensitivity and positivity, communicating clearly why the move to AON is a good thing for everyone involved. We anticipate and address bumps along the way, so the transition experience is defined by our team’s ability to resolve issues – and not by the issues themselves.
This customer-centric, proactive, and transparent approach helps align cultures under a shared vision of what the future can be for patients, staff and the communities served.