"In that direction," the Cat said waving it's right paw round, "lives a Hatter: and in that direction waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: their both mad." (Wonderland 6.52)
"But I don't want to go among mad people" Alice remarked.
"Oh you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad, Your mad".
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." (Wonderland 6.53-56)
I find the story of Alice in Wonderland a very good analogy at times for training new people entering the world of Managed Care Contracting. It takes a unique individual to enter this field, or perhaps someone that is mad as described in the above passage from Alice in Wonderland.
Managed Care Contracting is not one of those specialties that just happens to a person overnight, it is a long arduous process of relationship building, seeking out new territory, understanding healthcare and healthcare reform, reimbursement and multiple reimbursement models and staying ahead of the curve often before most within your organization. How often have you been met with question after question on contracting and the only answer you can give is "it depends?" Sales people and others within the organization look at us as if we are mad because our best answer is "it depends" when honestly that is the only answer you can give. If only it were simple, but really you can go in this direction or that direction as you try to assess what your customer needs, who is carrying financial risk and then provide a solution and there is never just one solution as you seek the optimal solution to get that contract.
I have spent the last 25 years in Managed Care Contracting both Nationally and also within the Country of Calif. as I often hear my home State referred to. Slow but sure my portfolio of Contacts is rich and that does not happen overnight. That comes through years of listening, analyzing and delivering what the customer needs on top of understanding the landscape that we function in. A Managed Care Contractor is usually doing a sales job not only to the customer but also to their company saying "we need to do this in order to close the business" only to be met with comments of "boy are they a high maintenance customer". Ugh, am I right? How many times have you heard that too?
When I go in to consult or train I always say, look for that key relationship that you can prove yourself to that will be the "rabbit hole" or jumping off point to get you to the next customer (organization) and the next and the next because truly, it is the relationships that gets you through the door. And that is just a start, that relationship is critical to get you through the door, however it does not stop there. Then the selling begins, especially in todays Healthcare market where cost, quality and access are the primary outcomes of Healthcare reform. How are you the Managed Care Contractor going to best partner, assist and help that organization get to the next level with your products or your services?
I often get asked, can we hire someone without experience and right out of school, train them and be successful? And as I tell my clients, in Managed Care you get what you pay for. Managed Care is relationship selling and not all companies understand that. Many times I have picked up business for a company simply because another organization chose to lay off their Managed Care people not realizing how important that relationship was to their customer. We are like wolves in waiting for those moments to happen and when they do we pounce on the opportunity taking advantage of another companies failure to realize how critical that relationship was to their business. This makes me wonder, is it really the Managed Care Contractor that is mad or a continued lack of understanding on what we do and what we bring to an organization?
More and more I also continue to find companies looking for the "perfect" Managed Care Contractor to fill their needs. To the point that they become paralyzed in the hiring process and allow the window of opportunity to pass. And in Managed Care, there are windows of opportunity and you must move before they close, or you will wait another 3 years. A Managed Care Contractor should bring to your organization relationships, vision, how to postion you against the competition and a working network of individuals that keeps them in the "know". I am beginning to realize that just perhaps that perfect Managed Care Contractor does not exist and it might actually be better as an outsourced function to energize and get things going until you can find a fit for your organization versus remaining paralyzed and letting opportunities pass.
So are we the Managed Care Contractor mad, curious or just love the challenge? Speaking for myself, I cherish my relationships and love Business Development, helping to grow a worthwhile organization and providing optimal solutions so that everyone wins! I try not to think of myself as too mad but having fun in my own way working through those challenges!