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Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better: 5 Benefits of Partnering with a Nimble Provider

 

By George Hampton

TKA’s company motto is “Partner Smart.” In practical terms, that means I’m leading an organization that is conscientious and moral about doing business in the healthcare segment at a time when hospitals are moving upstream in a battle to keep their finances afloat. The pandemic made those waters even choppier

As an external partner, we must choose whether we’re in the boat with your health system or out of it, on everything from teamwork to cost. In every case, we’d rather be in the boat moving collaboratively and methodically toward our shared mission of quality patient care. We’re not swimming around the boat waiting for someone to fall in.

We’re a medium-sized company that takes care of our partners’ healthcare technology, the devices responsible for most diagnostics and treatment today. Practitioners need to trust that medical equipment is reliable and providing accurate information, so they can make correct diagnoses and develop the best care plans for their patients. Plus, we consider ourselves as healthcare professionals: We don’t touch patients, but we do everything we can to increase the effectiveness of the people who do touch patients.

As you evaluate the effectiveness of your current program and vet partners, you’ll find a range of companies that can provide HTM services. Some are significantly larger than TKA; others are quite smaller. Within that spectrum, you need to find the right-sized provider who delivers the right service at the right price – and that isn’t as simple as it sounds.

TKA’s approach to selling our services is full transparency with our clients. As we look at it, you’re inviting someone into your house – something that makes many people nervous – for at least a three-year contract, so you want to know that you have a trusted partner at every turn. We’re upfront in setting rates, and we reinvest our modest profit into our organization in ways that, in turn, benefit our clients once again. We expect hospitals to hold us accountable across every contract term. I welcome that pressure, in fact, I actually encourage it.

Benefits of Working with a Right-Sized Partner

First off, our model is scalable, so we can work just as successfully for a small rural hospital as a major hospital network. We believe that our size enables us to deliver benefits you won’t find from our competitors. Here’s why:

  1. We’re hungry. As an organization that’s up and coming (with great depth of front-line experience among our leaders), we’re willing to go the extra mile and build a two-way street with hospital leaders and providers. Open communication ensures you know exactly what’s going on and why. That goes a long way in easing anxiety in using an outside vendor for a core hospital function.
  1. Innovation is built into our DNA. We’re agile and meet our clients where they need us to be. As part of The Innovation Institute, we embody the spirit of “what can be” in our daily work, where one of our mighty superpowers is problem-solving. Larger providers must adhere to performance structures, while we have the flexibility to think of different ways to do things better to meet equipment maintenance and availability requirements.
  1. Cookie-cutter programs aren’t our style. Each health system is unique; your HTM solution should be too. From the HTM service level to our pricing structure, we design each program specifically to what your hospital needs. With that comes our commitment to developing and adhering to best-in-practice quality processes, as validated by our recent ISO 9001 certification.
  1. You know where you’re spending your dollars. We can’t say it enough: We believe in total cost transparency, which we believe is a key differentiator of TKA in the industry. Every contract specifies exactly what our services will be and what your costs will be. We take a holistic approach, so everything we pledge to provide in a contract is rolled up into total cost. Like the largest companies, we leverage economies of scale in providing services and pricing parts to help minimize your costs. But you’re also not footing the bill for paying for the larger overhead costs that come with running a bigger business. With TKA, you have clear line of sight at any point in our relationship that your dollars are being spent to the penny on managing your program – without unexpected bill backs for “extra” services, because we build what’s necessary to get the basic job done into your contract.
  1. Pick up the phone and go straight to the top. To paraphrase the social game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” clients have “One Degree” of access to me; that has nothing to do with ego and everything to do with being an effective partner, especially when we’re aligned in a life-saving industry. I care about our clients, and I love to spend time in the hospital with both our teams and our partners. On practical matters, if there’s an issue – whether it’s an equipment, cost or staffing question – I’m only one phone call away, leading to a direct conversation between two people who can streamline the problem solving. We can course correct in the moment. That won’t be the case at a behemoth provider, where its mammoth size means you’re never that close to the top executive or perhaps anyone in the executive tier. And the larger the provider, the more red tape to cut through and usually the more financial demands to navigate behind any decision.

Understanding How Prices Differ

One final important consideration is getting a true apples-to-apples comparison on proposed service costs. Our one-page worksheet makes this an easy exercise, as you delineate whether common services are included in your existing or pending contract – of if you’ll be forced to pay a series of incoming bills later.

Add up those costs to get to the true annual cost of service, which isn’t always the yearly contract cost. You might find a kind of financial game, where the administrator signs off on a contract for, say, $5 million annually and never sees the slew of subsequent invoices for uncovered services that add $2 million to HTM spending, meaning that contract is really costing you $7 million. Too many hospitals are overspending because they fail to go back and audit that spending – and because they haven’t made the right comparison, they missed out on contracting with a quality provider who could deliver at a lower total cost.

Based on ongoing feedback, our partners develop confidence and trust in TKA because when our teams say they’re going to do something, they’ll do that day in and day out. We want our partners to know exactly what they’re getting from us. Ask TKA to assess your program and offer an all-in estimate: We guarantee you’ll get bottom-line savings and keep the highest patient-care quality standards. Contact me or Dave Francoeur, our Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales, to get started.

George Hampton is president of Tech Knowledge Associates.

 

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