Examine the financial partners’ ability to deliver speed to value, providing quick and effective solutions for your biggest challenges as well as their ability to adapt to your future needs.
With so many options out there, how do you navigate the choices to select the best financial partner for your healthcare organization? Financial firms who fit the success profile share five distinct attributes. This paper examines each to offer insights to guide your process.
Healthcare finance involves risk management and often highly sensitive transactions touching both payers and patients. Trust and transparency are paramount when selecting the financial partner that will receive data from your organization.
Several important evaluation criteria should be applied. First, does your financial partner bring proven experience in healthcare? Many market participants possess limited industry knowledge and field teams with narrow backgrounds that constrict their ability to understand your strategic objectives, bring you relevant fresh ideas and help you attain results.
Beyond these core criteria, questions that help you gain confidence that a long-term relationship can be built on trust include:
- Will your financial partner offer advice on your needs and insights on areas to optimize, even if the partner will not be the direct solution provider? Such perspective comes from having broad industry knowledge that extends beyond one’s own product portfolio along with a willingness to put your interests first.
- Are solutions relevant and complementary to your existing platform decision (EMR/ERP)?
- Has your financial partner developed a service around the technology to ensure ease of implementation and tangible value results?
- Is trustworthiness demonstrated by actions? For example, when a patient loan defaults, is a prorated transaction fee refunded to you?
Healthcare providers frequently initiate relationships with financial institutions driven by one or two specific needs. However, these requirements change over time as your organization grows and responds to rapid industry changes. Adapting nimbly takes versatility and collaboration. To be truly agile, financial institutions must deliver a comprehensive, integrated and customized financial portfolio spanning receivables management, accounts payable and traditional banking services.
When vetting a financial institution’s ability to support your organization, it is important to consider the following questions to gauge responsive agility:
- Does your financial partner display a knowledgeable, listen-first approach by evaluating and personalizing solution recommendations based on your changing situations?
- Does it have a team dedicated to engineering technology innovations into payment solutions?
- Does it move quickly to match appropriate solutions to your distinct timeline requirements?
- Is it focused on your long-term success, providing ongoing assessment and dialogue with you on your evolving needs?
- Does your financial partner meet your needs, aligning with your organization versus creating disruption?
Sophisticated data analysis is increasingly used to understand trends, identify opportunities for process improvement, devise evidence-based solutions and predict outcomes. Determining a financial partner’s analytics and reporting capabilities is key.
When it comes to analytics, be sure to ask potential financial partners these questions:
- Is an initial audit of the current back-office processes provided to uncover opportunities for automation and efficiencies?
- Is ongoing surveillance such as “spend file analysis” conducted for your entire supplier base to estimate additional earned revenue, and at what frequency? (See Figure 2 for an illustration.)
- Are you receiving monthly/quarterly result dashboards on your receivables and payments automation programs?
The highly competitive market combined with fluctuating reimbursement is placing increasing financial pressure on healthcare providers. Financial investments are scrutinized more closely and demonstrated ROI is crucial. Your organization needs a financial partner with a proven process and demonstrated track record of delivering immediate results. Differentiate potential vendors based on questions such as:
- Is initial implementation seamless and provide ease of reconciliation with core solutions and service providers? For example, in patient financing, can patients join the program at any point in the billing cycle? Does the solution integrate with your current billing system? Are patients issued an open line of credit without screening?
- Is there consistent ongoing execution? For a payables management program, does the financial solution provider mount sustained campaigns to enroll and onboard your new and existing supplier partners onto its platform quickly?
- Is outsourcing involved? In many instances, financial service providers outsource specific functions of a solution to third-party financial or tech companies. This can introduce risk of operational delays and complications with problem resolution. A full-service financial institution offers direct accountability, promotes speed of execution and simplifies processes.
- Will solutions integrate effectively with your systems? Do solutions integrate with your current EHR, ERP or other financial systems to respect existing workflows and efficient reconciliation?
- What specific metrics and reporting are available to demonstrate ROI? Can the financial partner show specific, timely return on each of its offerings as opposed to generalized claims? Does it use its ROI analysis to trigger next steps that drive continued future returns?
Creating value quickly and sustaining success require extensive support from your financial partner. With your staff already overburdened, a financial institution that brings dedicated support to program implementation, training and ongoing operations is invaluable. Such support rests on a foundation of sensitivity to your situation, an open and responsive attitude and a record of meeting commitments. Specific questions to probe a potential partner’s capabilities:
- Does the financial partner utilize third-party vendors or subcontractors or directly conduct implementation and support? The latter promotes consistency and avoids potential added expense.
- Will continuous surveillance be provided to ensure your programs are successful?
- Are there dedicated account managers to monitor and anticipate your needs?
- Are technology-enabled services backstopped by experienced, trained staff with healthcare experience?
Selecting a partner for your financial management needs is a high-impact decision with a complex set of considerations. Many vendors exhibit one or two of the five critical attributes described here. Finding a partner who possesses all is essential to realizing accelerated value and establishing a relationship that benefits you now and in the future.