Cultivating a culture of courage, trust and partnership creates confidence in the financial experience of healthcare.

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” –John Wayne

I took that old aphorism from the Duke literally: at a recent company event in Texas, I entered the conference hall to deliver my keynote on a horse. That’s right—I walked a live horse through the hotel doors and onto the main stage.

“Whose idea was that?!,” you might ask. Well, it was mine.

It was a crazy idea for a professional conference (and crazier when you consider I’m deathly allergic to horses and I don’t know how to ride), but I wanted to make a point.

The sentiment behind my presentation was courage, that powerful force that drives us to look at old problems in new ways and try something different, even when it seems challenging—just like riding a horse, falling off, and getting back on. Even when the healthcare industry is faced with obstacles like constant shifting regulatory rules, cyber threats, aging technology, we must saddle up to deliver for our clients. We must be resilient, creative and rely on trusted partners. In truth, we must go beyond our comfort zone.

Address the (Horse) in the Room

We live during one of the most amazing times in medical technology. Healthcare has achieved remarkable achievements on a massive scale–from AI-powered x-rays improving lung cancer detection to the 3-D printing of organs, the list of incredible feats is growing by the day. Indeed, clinical care has always exemplified courage: science, and technology and human grit ever-advancing new ways to improve and extend lives.

Yet when we look past the clinical side of healthcare to the “back office” of the industry—hang on, I’m about to state the obvious here—the sentiment isn’t quite as positive. The clear question is: what if the business of healthcare could keep pace with the clinical side, bringing bold transformation to the industry?

Because healthcare extends beyond clinical interactions, encompassing all aspects of patient experience. It is a patient’s lasting impression. By committing to enhance the financial side—acknowledging the personal impact of each claim and payment—we can ensure smooth financial progress throughout the system.  This requires leaders to challenge the status quo and collaborate for the industry’s betterment.

Zelis is on a mission to modernize the healthcare financial experience for all, ensuring that care doesn’t slow due to the necessary administrative processes—instead, helps it flow seamlessly.

Courage Drives Change

I don’t want to simply spout a manifesto. Zelis believes in showcasing the power of courageous actions through real-life partnerships and honest communication. For instance, we have a client who modeled courage by very directly addressing concerns. The CEO of that TPA called me and said: “I’m having issues with one of your solutions and we’re either going to work on it and be better partners at the end, or we won’t, and I’ll never speak to you again.”

Which is always a fun thing to hear as a CEO.

We did, in fact, work through the issue. Not only are we better partners, but that first, honest interaction set the stage for a successful long-term partnership. That client has now partnered with us on a collaborative solution that optimizes the member experience.

Another health plan who exemplifies courage was a longstanding communications client. They recognized the importance of integrating communications and payments but were overwhelmed with the idea of changing their existing process. And I get it—that kind of change can be overwhelming for an organization.

It means handing over the entire check file and trusting that another company will optimize delivery of payments without a hitch. It took courage to make a huge change and that’s exactly what happened. By implementing our comprehensive payment solution, the client not only got their dollars and data flowing in unison, but they also improved provider electronic adoption significantly—by over 4x.

Often taking a big, courageous leap has positive outcomes you didn’t consider.

A final client example: we’re now working with multiple health plans and third-party administrators to proactively reach members to explain balance bills and to help negotiate down member liability. Through our unique combination of claims negotiations, live concierge service and advanced communications capabilities, we helped members save the equivalent cost of two tanks of gas, or a family ’s monthly grocery order, or in the case of one member, handling an incorrectly billed $7,000 through the pilot program.

Solving for the healthcare financial experience requires a breadth of capabilities, but, more importantly, the courage to admit that the business of healthcare is imperfect. It’s recognizing what you do well, and where you may need support. The clients who partnered with us on this project were willing to be a little vulnerable and let us take the lead.

Create Lasting Transformations

The examples I shared prove that we can modernize the healthcare financial experience by working in courageous partnership–allowing providers to give care without financial bottlenecks and allowing patients to focus on their well-being, while helping payers support providers and members without friction.

Courage is essential to drive innovation and change within any industry. It’s especially needed in such a complicated, nuanced and sometimes messy industry like healthcare. By cultivating a culture of trust, we can create an environment where all stakeholders have confidence in the integrity of healthcare and are eager to collaborate for lasting change in our industry.

I believe we can transform an experience full of abrasions and inefficiencies into a system where the financial experience doesn’t slow healthcare — it helps it flow.

And because you’re reading this, I hope you’re on that mission too.

Until next time, be well.