Accretive Health

Joseph Flanagan, Accretive Health

Joseph Flanagan

Operational Excellence

Editors’ Note

Joseph Flanagan was appointed as Accretive Health’s Chief Operating Officer in June 2013. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Supply Chain at Applied Materials Inc. Prior to joining Applied Materials, Flanagan held executive positions in global operations for Nortel Networks Corporation and General Electric. Flanagan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He also previously served as a Director on the boards for Singapore Economic Development Board and the Human Capital Leadership Institute.

What excited you about the opportunity to join Accretive Health and how did being a business leader in another industry help you?

For me, this was an opportunity to join an industry that is constantly evolving and expanding. There are vast changes going on in healthcare, which leads to complexity. Value can be created by operational innovations that help manage that complexity.

My functional skill set is ideally suited for this environment. While I continue to learn more about the industry dynamics, the operational skill set I bring lends itself to dealing with the different inflections, and capitalizing on the opportunities and challenges they create. I am able to apply best practices learned in other industries that have not yet reached the healthcare industry.

What attracted me to Accretive Health was the powerful business model, which does not reflect traditional outsourcing. Using a full range of technology products and services, we create value by engaging collaboratively and acting as an extension of our customers’ organizations.

Our product is operational excellence, which combines our human capital and our proprietary technology.

What are some of the operational improvements that Accretive Health is able to offer to those in the industry?

The U.S. healthcare market has a unique and extremely complex delivery model. We optimize the end-to-end revenue cycle process so that organizations can operate and excel within those models.

It is vital to deploy accountability and set up operational rigor in areas such as operating rhythm, and driving strong alignment of business objectives and outcome targets.

Many of our operators have extensive experience navigating the healthcare system. When we couple their knowledge with industry best practices, we create better outcomes.

How critical is it to engage employees?

It’s highly critical to engage employees, as well as manage talent assessment to ensure you have the right team in place as we drive 60- and 90-day objectives. This has to be a top priority.

This doesn’t mean only having superstars; it also means putting in place the right capability, culture, and team dynamics.

It’s often easier to drive a transformation when dealing with a crisis. Facing environmental shifts creates the opportunity to mobilize change and accelerate transformation.

How do you define the value that Accretive Health can provide, and is there an education process so the customer understands the value?

Over the past 18 months, we’ve gone through a thoughtful process to make sure our methods for measuring the value we create are closely aligned with how our customers measure value. One example of this is the fact that we measure our value created directly from our customers’ own data and their financial systems.

In general, we separate our outcomes into two broad categories: patient experience and financial performance.

We improve the patient experience, as proven by creating a seamless registration process that reduces wait times. Our team works closely with patients to identify funding solutions, ensures timely authorizations for procedures, and educates patients on their financial responsibility, as well as options prior to their time of service. Our work results in patients spending more face time with their physicians and less time in the waiting room.

The financial value we create is on cost to collect and efficiency. We look at the quality and the timeliness of the collection process. Quality is determined based on the income statement and the balance sheet, as compared with the cost to collect.

On the income statement balance sheet, we have 10 metrics that come right out of the customers’ patient accounting systems. They mirror the metrics most hospital CFOs are responsible for generating, and we align our objectives to driving performance in those areas.

This alignment has resulted in improved satisfaction among our customers as we support them today, and position them for the changes happening in the healthcare environment.•