IHA’s Endorsed Business Partner Program brings value and convenience to members
Health care executives have a lot on their minds these days, from improving quality and patient safety to refocusing services on population health. With limited time and resources, they are challenged to identify the best partners to help them meet their goals quickly and efficiently.
That’s where the Indiana Hospital Association’s (IHA’s) Endorsed Business Partner Program comes in.
The Endorsed Business Partner Program provides cutting-edge and cost-effective solutions to hospitals. It was designed to generate value-added benefits for members and offer products or services that help health care facilities minimize costs, recover revenue, create operational efficiencies, improve management and quality, increase productivity, develop staff resources and apply new strategies.
“We know many of our hospitals are looking for strategic assistance, and we want to help them be successful,” says Cathy Armold, vice president of member services at IHA. “Through the Endorsed Business Partner Program, members can access a number of vetted, reliable companies who meet high standards for quality, service and integrity.”
IN THE BEGINNING
IHA began exploring the idea of an Endorsed Business Partner Program in 2014 after a number of companies approached the Association and asked how they could develop a stronger relationship with both IHA and its members. Staff members created a basic plan and presented it to the IHA Board of Directors, who gave its approval.
“When we got started, we established a core set of guiding principles,” Armold says. “It was important to us that we do this right and develop a program that would provide the greatest benefit to members.”
One of the first steps was surveying a cross-section of IHA members to identify needs and recommendations. The survey aimed to discover which products and services hospitals needed most and what companies members would recommend to their colleagues. Staff used the survey results to develop categories of services, and then issued requests for information to identify potential partners.
The Endorsed Business Partner Program launched in early 2015 with the endorsement of five companies, four of which are still endorsed today: BESLER Consulting, which is endorsed for its transfer DRG revenue recovery service; Lincoln Financial Group, which offers retirement plan services; Merritt Hawkins, the largest permanent placement physician search and consulting company in the U.S.; and Vizient, a group purchasing organization. IHA currently endorses 14 companies.
AN EXTENSIVE VETTING PROCESS
It’s not easy to become an Endorsed Business Partner, Armold notes.
“The companies undergo a pretty extensive vetting process,” she says. “We examine their financials, conduct background checks and contact references. We then synthesize the information we’ve gathered and present it to the Endorsed Business Partner Selection Committee, who makes the final decision on whether a company is endorsed or not.”
The 10 members of the Endorsed Business Partner Selection Committee, who come from hospitals across the state, represent a variety of roles, including CEO, CFO, COO, CNO and HR executive. Matt Bailey, FACHE, president of the South Central Region of IU Health and chair of the Selection Committee, points out that the research doesn’t stop once a company is endorsed. One of the benefits of the program is that IHA continues to monitor the company’s performance.
“We continually measure performance to ensure all our Endorsed Business Partners provide excellent value and service to our members,” he said.
Armold notes that the committee takes its role very seriously.
“They are anything but a rubber-stamp committee,” she says. “They feel a sense of responsibility as members acting on behalf of other members.”
A VARIETY OF SERVICES
Endorsed Business Partners offer a variety of services. There are traditional services every hospital needs, like Bill Dunbar and Associates’ coding services and First American Healthcare Finance’s leasing services, as well as innovative services that take advantage of today’s technology, such as the HealthDollars mobile payment app and Verge Health’s Enterprise-wide software platform that automates and streamlines complex administrative processes. Many Endorsed Business Partners focus on helping hospitals save and recover money, including Managed Care Advisory Group, which offers a settlement recovery service solution, and Commerce Bank, which helps hospitals automate invoice processing, workflow, disbursement and patient receivables. A number of companies help with staffing shortages, such as FocusOne Solutions, which provides temporary supplemental and contingent labor through a web-based procurement tool, and CHG Healthcare Services’ locum tenens services. Others provide individualized consulting services, such as Healthcare Performance Partners, which offers training and coaching using lean management principles.
Armold hopes to grow the program and add more companies that can meet the specific needs of Indiana hospitals. The newest endorsed company, for example, Cordant Health Solutions, is at the forefront of combating today’s opioid abuse epidemic through its network of toxicology laboratories and pharmacies.
“We listen to what we hear out in the field to try to identify needs before our members ask for them,” Armold says. “We want to proactively find solutions so they’re ready when our members need them.”
“Our goal is to provide a resource or repository of top vendors that have proven themselves to our members. We want to do the legwork for IHA members and save them time, money and effort,” he says. “We’re not saying these are the best or only solutions. We just ask that members consider them as they’re doing their own due diligence.”
Bailey notes that member feedback is vital to the success of the program. He welcomes members to submit their recommendations for future Endorsed Business Partners.
“We’ve only scratched the surface,” he says. “We’re all looking at ways to collaborate and maximize our dollars. The Endorsed Business Partner Program holds great opportunity and brings value to our membership.”
IHA ENDORSED BUSINESS PARTNERS