Monday, November 5, 2012

Why Do This?

Three years ago, I began a working in a position that I hadn't held in more than 20 years. I took on the marketing an ambulance agency.

Now, I'm sure that most of you are saying, "Okay, big deal... why is this an issue, and why are you writing a 'blog'  about it? It's only marketing, for God's sake!", and in any other universe I'd be leading the way in critical comment. However, our industry falls into the category of "Healthcare", an industry heavily regulated by the Federal government. If you don't know the rules in this field, you could end up in prison, bankrupt, or both for simply promoting your business like millions of other businesses do every day.

Twenty years ago, I had been laid off as the Deputy Chief of Operations for a SoCal ambulance district, following the loss of a competitive bid process that had been recently held. The company that had the contract had lost it, and the new contractor was not inclined to hang on to me. I was "laid off", because I didn't fit their "management profile" (translation: the new management had someone else in mind for my position). There wasn't an abundance of offers coming in for a recently laid off ops manager, so I decided to put up a shingle, and start my own consulting firm.

Someday I will "blog" about what exactly transpired because of that decision, but the end result was horrific, and I ended up in court testifying against a client. "How", you might say? By not being informed of the laws that regulate every provider in healthcare that receives money from "Federal entitlement programs" (translation: Medicare and Medicaid programs).

Today, we're moving "full steam ahead" by successfully creating new business relationships that add to my client's profitable book of business. However, there's still not much available that can demonstrate proper marketing techniques, and I still havent been able to locate a training program, specifically designed around marketing healthcare.

Every region in the country has its own set of industry politic that we all must wade through. In the region I operate in, healthcare fraud is prevalent. "Medicare cops" (as I call them) are doing their best to stay ahead of the game, setting up elaborate "sting" operations to nab the violators. Because Federal investigators are everywhere, all my marketers must "live in a box".

Where other companies may allow a discounted service rate to this or that facility, our policy is a "zero discounts" below Medicare rates, unless the service contract is set squarely within a "safe-harbor". As a result, we have to walk away from many opportunities that would be very profitable, simply because we "won't play ball" with unscrupulous providers looking to conduct a "discount swapping" arrangement. A business arrangement that is CLEARLY a violation of the Federal Anti-kickback statute.

So, my staff training is very simple. All know the Federal "rules" they must operate under, what type of contracting arrangements they can or cannot be involved with, and how to be creative... and think "outside-the-box" when it comes to creating profitable business opportunities that are legal. It's for these reasons that I have begun to take this message online.

In future editions online, we'll be discussing techniques that will make your boss happy, grow the business, and keep your bonus big! Once you learn what to look for, it becomes so easy to think outside-the-box!

See you soon... Class dismissed!

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