Automating Stipends at an Academic Research Institution

March 10 2017  

Research hospitals and universities gain significant advantages when their study stipends are centralized in a solution that eliminates checks, cash and manual reporting processes.

Rolling out a new process is not easy. Despite the countless advantages that automation can bring, change can be difficult.

Our team has worked closely with the top research hospitals and universities across the nation to establish a set of proven best practices to ensuring the solution is introduced effectively and embraced by the entire organization.

1. Go all in.  

Purchasing an automated stipend solution for just one department within a large hospital or university may be a “quick fix” for the department, but benefits surrounding compliance, reduced administration, and economies of scale will not be realized because the whole entity is not participating.

Here are some drawbacks to limited use: (compliance) a 1099 Report for one department will only capture a fraction of the number of patients that are being paid $600 or more by the institution in a calendar year; (reduced administration) when individual departments purchase separately, reporting is not aggregated across the whole institution and different workflows for the same product result; and (cost) card purchases come with volume discounts.

When purchasing a new stipend solution, rather than purchasing for just one department, its important that the full investment is made at the start, which will make onboarding new studies and departments much more simplified and scalable over time. It also centralizes the data so there is minimal reconfiguration and updates needed as more departments and studies get onboard.

2. Start small.  

After deciding to move all patient payments from checks, cash, and gift cards to ClinCard, a hospital or university should consider how to roll it out. Changing the study stipend method across an entire hospital or university is not as simple as flipping a switch. Different protocols, study criteria and specifications need to be taken into consideration and the solution needs to be flexible to accommodate these unique situations.

Universities and hospitals should onboard new and “simple” studies first—studies with the smallest number of steps in their workflow to move a payment from Finance to a patient. From there, move into more complex research studies that have more than one department or school participating, or more than one type of payment—stipends, travel reimbursement, and manual payments. This way, the team becomes familiar with the solution and how it works in the context of the way they do research.

 3. Centralize the cost with the finance department.

Although some institutions bill costs of an automated patient payment solution back to individual departments, the most successful rollouts end up with Finance footing the bill. This further reduces administrative burden for researchers, but also reduces efforts needed from Finance to generate internal invoices.

4. Provide on-site training.

While there is value in online training, bringing users together in a room to learn the system is still the best way to gain adoption and usage. Not only does this eliminate distractions – it provides a forum for group collaboration and learning which further supports a successful implementation. Any concerns a department may have are addressed live, with stories from other successful implementations and best practices.

5. Set goals and measure impact.

As with any new project rollout, to measure the success of the investment, parameters around ROI must be set – i.e., patient retention and engagement, time and resource savings, reduction in manual administration and rework, etc.  With these measurements set at the kickoff of the implementation, the return and value of the investment will be clear for all stakeholders making further adoption and usage of the solution a “no brainer” for all involved.


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