Top 5 Tips for Presenting New Software to your Board

In my prior role as a health plan CIO, one of my responsibilities was to evaluate, select, and justify software solutions – and often to prepare materials to seek funding and/or approval from a Board of Directors.  HealthEdge helps to arm health plan CIOs and other health plan leaders with the information necessary to justify selection of our software solutions.

While no two boards are the same, these tips have helped me achieve success most often.

1. Understand group dynamics and individual personalities

One of the most important things to know and understand is that boards are made up of individual personalities – and that their collective presence has a group dynamic. The key is to understand the fabric of your particular board and the individual personalities.  Some things to discover are their individual backgrounds, their current career and aspirations, their passions, their relationships in the industry and community.  What are their individual and group goals?  What does success look like to them?  What information do they require to feel confident making a decision?

And, very important – be sure to anticipate each board member’s questions for every topic or decision put to them.

Understanding your unique board and board members ensures you can tend to each board member the right way.  Once you understand your audience, you can come fully prepared to answer questions they are likely to ask.  With that understanding and preparation, you may even get lucky and win their approval with few questions.

2. Build Trust.  Be Transparent.

A savvy board of directors can sniff out an unprepared presenter easily.  It’s important to respect their time.  In my experience, the majority of boards (and most others) appreciate honesty and transparency – whether bad news or good.  They will respect the candor.  They generally do not respond well to being served what could be perceived as a “sales pitch”.  They may even cringe at a lengthy slide deck.  A lot depends on the board personality.  Whether sharing good news or bad – the direct approach is best.

Once the board becomes familiar with your transparent and honest approach, the building blocks of trust start to accumulate.  This doesn’t happen overnight but is the critical foundation of a solid relationship with the board.  The ability to connect with the board and influence change hinges on this relationship and the trust you build.

I recall a memorable board meeting that was a turning point in a trusted relationship.  As I stepped to the podium to present my information and request funding – I examined their faces and gambled.  They had seen and read my advance material – they seemed anxious to not have a lengthy meeting.  In that moment, in reading their body language, I asked if they’d rather I run through my presentation or simply respond to their questions.  The board members looked back and forth at each other, asked two questions, voted in favor of funding the initiative – and then thanked me for my brevity.  Trust had been established.  This never means that one should become overly confident and comfortable.  Board members often rotate in and out, sometimes on a regular schedule – and that trust foundation must be continually maintained.

3. It’s more than just cost

When you think about implementing a new software solution, cost is obviously a significant consideration.  As you well know, there’s more to a selection than cost.  It’s advisable, in most cases, to have a consistent evaluation and scoring approach to document the selection.  Cost is one criterion, as are these items below:

  • Competition: Who are the competing vendors?  How do their solutions compare and contrast?  How are they aligned with your needs as well as your mission and vision?
  • Experience: how much experience do the software vendors have?  How much with companies like yours?
  • Reputation:  What is each vendor’s reputation within the industry?  What do industry experts say about each (e.g. Gartner, Forrester, etc.)?  What do references say?
  • Software development/maturity: Has the software been fully developed to the level your organization needs?  What is on the product roadmap?
  • Implementation: What does implementation look like (duration, process, etc.)?  How much time commitment is required of your team?
  • Partnership/Trusted Advisor: Is the vendor capable of being direct, telling it like it is, and being a true advisor?  Do they provide experts in your industry who can advise you?  Can they be a true partner, not just a “vendor”?  Can they clearly demonstrate an understanding of your business needs, where you’re coming from, and how they intend to help you get to where you want to go?

4. Be Concise but Thorough

There is a significant volume of information that contributes to the ability to select a new software solution.  The personality and dynamic of the board, and your knowledge of them will help determine how much of that information is needed for their approval – and in what format it should be presented.   In many cases, the board won’t need or want all the details.  Based on your understanding of the board, determine what they need and how best to present it.  An evaluation matrix can be helpful to succinctly address the areas mentioned above – and allow for questions.

5. Be prepared – common questions to have answers at the ready

While no two boards are alike, there are common questions. Make sure you have answers to these available.

  1. What is the problem we are trying to solve?  What is the business need?
  2. What is the technology need or impact?
  3. How much is this going to cost?
  4. How long is it going to take to recover the cost?  What is the ROI?  How has this ROI been proven in the past?
  5. What are we going to get out of this?
  6. How was the recommended solution evaluated and selected?  Why was that solution ranked #1 – and is #2 a valid backup plan?
  7. Is it the right time to do this?
  8. Would it have been less impactful if we had made this decision a few years ago?  Or are we late and need to do this as soon as practical?
  9. How long will the new solution last?
  10. What are the ongoing maintenance costs?

Hopefully something from this short blog will be helpful the next time you are presenting to your board. When you are ready to select a HealthEdge product, we are here to help you prepare for your Board meeting.

The Role of Good Data in Addressing Health Inequities

Health equity is under discussion throughout the industry, as more and more research demonstrates that the prevalence of bias – even structured into healthcare artificial intelligence – is impacting the health of millions of Americans. As is often the case, conversations start with data and how to collect it in directly or indirectly to address disparities in care and outcomes.

The National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) is developing health equity reporting measures under HEDIS, which are likely to be adopted and required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Other governing bodies may follow suit. One of the first and most basic places to look is at discrepancies between populations in morbidity and mortality by race and ethnicity. These have been documented in the past, but many believe the reporting isn’t as specific as it could be. There are other disease-based Measures that will help tease out other disparities between populations.

This year is not a true reporting year for NCQA, but there’s a lot going on. In 2022, data collection methods allow the capture of race and ethnicity data via two methods. Direct collection of this information may come in from the member during enrollment. Health plans may have indirect means like geographic imputation or other community proxies as a temporary method to create indirect assignment.

Race and ethnicity data is currently available for nearly all Medicare beneficiaries; however less than a quarter of commercial plans have this data for even half their members, so the challenge is significant. With imminent requirements for stratifying quality results by race and ethnicity, developing methods to collect this data is essential.

NCQA has just completed an eight-month collaborative study on how to improve data collection on race and ethnicity with Grantmakers in Health (GIH). NCQA is currently studying five Measures. They want to advance that to 10 Measures in 2023 and 15 measures in 2024. HealthEdge is looking at how HealthRules® Payer and GuidingCare® can help its customers stratify measures by race and ethnicity in combination with direct and indirect collection methods.

Discussions about this and other industry-relevant compliance and regulatory issues are held at monthly focus groups for the benefit of HealthEdge customers. Customers interested in how HealthEdge is responding to the technical challenges associated with these topics should contact their account representatives to join.

Learn more in Maggie Brown’s Regulatory and Compliance Headlines & Highlights update.

Payers and States Prepare for End of the Public Health Emergency

With the Omicron variant starting to recede and political pressure starting to build to end the Public Health Emergency (PHE), various sectors of healthcare are starting to prepare for the end of the emergency period. Currently slated to come to a close April 16, the PHE has been extended eight times since it was declared in January of 2020 and could very well be extended again for three months at a time. However, the end is in sight and the pressure is building. The implications to the larger economy and the healthcare system are significant. Payers will see a shift in their member mix due to Medicaid disenrollment, among other changes.

A feature of the PHE was to halt all Medicaid disenrollment, regardless of changes to member eligibility. Those covered by Medicaid who are no longer eligible due to changed circumstances stand to be disenrolled when the PHE expires. One estimate reckons 15 million people younger than 65 could lose coverage, even though some will become eligible at the same time for Exchange plans or other programs. However, the educational task to convey this is huge with this traditionally difficult-to-reach audience because of SDOH barriers. Many who qualify for Medicaid often fall off the rolls because they cannot or do not complete the renewal process. Changes of address, disability, illiteracy, language barriers and other challenges contribute to incomplete renewals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance for states on “unwinding” the requirements and sorting out who continues to be eligible among 76.7 million currently enrolled individuals – nearly one in four Americans. The federal money allotted to maintain continuous coverage is likely to run out before this task is completed, even with the current administration allowing states a year to finish redeterminations. States will be under significant budgetary pressure.

The industry will get 60 days’ notice before the PHE ends, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The agency often waits until just a few days before the expiration date to extend the PHE, shortening the window for state agencies and others to notify beneficiaries that their coverage may end.

Medicaid disenrollment is just one challenge of many ahead, as grants to local governments, providers and other groups dry up. With an unprecedented worldwide pandemic in modern times, the after-effects are bound to be significant and long-lasting, but may reveal opportunities to improve the system.

Redefining Payment Integrity: From Black Box to Open Book

“How much should a healthcare provider be reimbursed for the services they provided our member?”

While a seemingly straightforward question, the answer, unfortunately, continues to elude payers. And mistakes made while trying to answer this question contribute over $200 billion to the annual cost of healthcare in the United States.

I have spent the past 8 years in the payment integrity industry, working to address this question in some way, shape or form. But it wasn’t until I joined HealthEdge that I saw how radically different things could be.

With Source, our answer to this question was to build a solution from the ground up with the simple mission to enable customers to pay claims accurately, quickly, and comprehensively – however it is our vision and approach that will redefine payment integrity.

The payment integrity market is chock-full of vendors operating the same way they were a decade ago. They are using an outdated approach to solve for increasingly complex problems that limit visibility for the healthcare payer and hamstrings their ability to meet the increasing demands of their members and transparency in the industry. This “black box” approach enforces competition between the payment integrity vendor and the payer—where the vendor continuously profits off mistakes without addressing root cause issues for the payer.

But what if instead of competing for profits and benefiting from mistakes—which ultimately impact members, we partnered with payers to truly understand their pain points—and helped solve them?

At Source, we do not want to be just another vendor in a Payor’s complex web of payment systems. We have built an end-to-end payment and editing platform with the vision of deep partnership and moving the payment integrity industry from a black box to an open book. We do not wish to compete with a Payor and profit off mistakes, but rather partner to truly understand pain points and solve them at the time of adjudication.

We’re calling this the “Open Book” approach, where we provide the technology for payers to gain control over their IT ecosystems, address root cause issues, and ultimately cut costs that contribute to member savings.

Redefining Payment Integrity: From Black Box to Open Book

With Source, you not only have complete control and visibility over your payment lifecycle in one place, but a dedicated partner who wants to help solve your largest and most complex payment challenges. We want to eliminate administrative waste and provider abrasion so that the Payor can focus on what matters most—their members.

We’re on a mission to challenge the payment integrity industry to do better by empowering payers with the technology and partnership they need to make healthcare better for everyone.

Learn more about Source payment integrity here

Some Payers Scramble to Meet COVID Test Rules; Others Pivot Quickly

New federal rules set early in the year mandate that private payers cover eight free FDA-approved COVID tests per member per month as of Jan. 15. The intent is to remove barriers for consumers who need to know whether they are infected so they can keep from spreading the virus. In an ideal world, that means people not facing a fee at the point of purchase and counting on their health plan membership information to pave the way. The work of processing and paying for tests really should happen behind the scenes.

A few payers expressed to the New York Times that they didn’t have enough time to meet the deadline and that they didn’t have the proper coding and payment mechanisms in place. AHIP reports that nearly half of plans are positioned to make the tests free at the retail level. There are a number of ways payers can respond to the challenge, and they should note that HealthRules® Payer and Source® are configurable to easily processing claims in this and similar situations.

Many plans will piggyback the COVID test distribution onto existing processes, such as those they use to offer free vaccinations to members in clinics, drugstores and other settings. Even so, plans will need to reimburse members who still end up paying out of pocket and submitting paper receipts for reimbursement. HealthRules Payer is also poised to handle this process.

Health plans should communicate with members about how to proceed, and make a point of distinguishing between preferred and non-preferred locations or pharmacies where possible. Payers will be liable for the full cost of non-preferred tests, so they are wise to educate members on where to acquire tests.

Business agility continues to be a factor in whether plans thrive or just survive in today’s healthcare ecosystem. This is a vivid example of how the right partners and solutions can support health plan operations in delivering for members as well as promoting public health.

This topic and others were recently discussed at our monthly customer focus group, in which we discuss industry compliance issues and the HealthEdge response. Upcoming topics include Machine Readable Files, the advanced explanation of benefits and price comparison tools. Customers wishing to attend should contact their account representatives.

Learn more in Maggie Brown’s Regulatory and Compliance Headlines & Highlights update.

HealthEdge’s HealthRules® Payer Ranked #1 in CAPS and named ‘Best in KLAS’

HealthEdge Software, provider of the industry’s leading next-gen integrated solution suite for health insurers, said today its HealthRules® Payer solution has been named “Best in KLAS” by KLAS Research for claims administrative processing system (CAPS). The designation is awarded by KLAS based on in-depth interviews with payers using the platform. A KLAS Performance Report released last fall showed HealthRules Payer leading the market in new purchase decisions by payers in a 24-month period.

“We are delighted to earn this respected recognition from our customers,” said Steve Krupa, HealthEdge Chief Executive Officer. “This correlates with what we have heard across the market from customers, who tell us they need the capability to scale and grow membership, expand into new markets, model new benefit plans and connect real-time data access. As digital innovators, we constantly strive to deliver these mission-critical advantages to payers.”

The KLAS Performance Report also ranked HealthRules Payer as “best technology option” based on interviews, with a highly satisfied customer base. The “Best in KLAS” designation interviews produced customer comments, noting robust configurability and flexibility:

“I have been through multiple claims systems, and HealthRules Payer is by far one of the best claims systems that I have seen in the marketplace. The ease of use and ease of configuration have been amazing. I speak all the time with our vice president of claims, and they can’t swear enough by the product and what it has done for us.” Vice President, August 2021

“I like the way HealthEdge has built their technology with APIs. I like the ease of APIs to do integrations that we don’t have with a lot of the other systems.” Director, August 2021

HealthEdge’s Chief Operating & Product Officer, Sagnik Bhattacharya, noted that market factors such as the growth of value-based care contracts, new regulations over the past two years have exposed inefficiencies in legacy architecture for many payers: “Legacy technology is getting in the way of the business agility health plans need. HealthRules Payer enables plans to innovate rapidly as they transform to become digital-first businesses.”

Customers expressed appreciation for the HealthEdge culture and collaborative style:

“HealthEdge appears to be at the forefront of the industry. There is new legislation coming out, and the vendor is proactively updating their solution to support some of the mandated functionality. HealthEdge proactively reaches out to their clients through different forums to get input, form solutions and raise awareness.” Vice President, August 2021

“The executive team is high energy. They lean in. They are collaborative … they live their mission of wanting to support our industry, and that shows in every interaction. HealthEdge has done a nice job of building relationships across the organization.” Vice President, August 2021

An October 2021 KLAS Performance Report noted, “HealthEdge has recently seen increased attention from both small and large health plans, who view the vendor’s technology as innovative and who have been asking KLAS for vendor insights.”

The “Best in KLAS” award will be presented to HealthEdge live at HIMSS in Orlando this March. Read the 2022 Best in KLAS: Software & Services report here and the October 2021 KLAS Performance Report about HealthEdge here.