When The Hospitals Started Asking Me For Help… We’re Stronger Together.

Written By: David Hewitt, RVP of Sales – East, dhewitt@spendmend.com

I’ve served healthcare networks and hospitals for nearly a decade and if you would have asked me in January… I would have told you that I had seen it all.

But I hadn’t…none of us had.

The last few months have been one new experience after another and I’ve observed firsthand, how strong we are, and more than that – how strong we are together.

I’m fortunate, I’ve worked with many of the top hospitals across the country, and from those engagements I was able to meet some of the most influential leaders at world-class facilities.

If I’m being honest, conversations with these individuals have sometimes been a little one-sided – in terms of deference.  It’s true, my clients appreciate what I do, but I know I’m viewed as a supplier only, and by definition that makes me an outsider.

But things were a little different last week.  I was meeting with the CFO of a top U.S. hospital who I have met on a couple other occasions and he is always professional and cordial, but it’s always clear that I’m a contractor.  Although my work is openly and highly appreciated – the boundaries are still there.

During the conversation last week, my client took on a different demeanor – he was more candid and more vulnerable.  Clearly, the past few months have had a major impact on him.  His first words were, “David, I need you guys right now.  I need you to watch our back.”

You see, a couple months ago his whole healthcare network (like every other network in the country) shut down their elective procedures.  As a result, they bled cash.  And now, his group is planning to turn procedures back on to drive cash flow back to his bottom line.

The hospital is down in terms of staff, supplies and morale (if we’re being honest) and they are now expected to ramp up to pre-pandemic levels of output and efficiency.  Come on, man…

“We haven’t been focusing on our top or bottom line in the last few months and we know we’ve been taken advantage of by a few of our suppliers, and we know we’ve lost millions,” he admitted starkly. “You have to look into this for us.”

He asked me to double down on our audit scope and to investigate his AP transactions and his vendor relationships in detail.  He said he knew they had been moving too fast and too clumsily for the last several months in their attempts to keep up with the surge of COVID-19 patients.

As a result of his focus being pulled away from day-to-day operations, he was certain they had not been able to maintain compliance with their internal controls across their Procure-to-Pay cycle and he was grim about the losses he was suffering as a result.  He suspected they had been making purchases off-contract; onboarding duplicate and fraudulent suppliers; falling prey to price gouging; missing discounts and rebates; issuing duplicate and over-payments; and much more.  He actually said “… and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.”

Clearly the topic was very raw for him.  Hospitals like his have been reporting losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to COVID-19.

I felt bad for him.  I did.  But I felt excited too, because I realized how much we could help.  And he knew it too.  He said, “David, of all my partners you guys are the only one that can make this kind of impact this quickly.  I need you to backfill.”  I don’t know if I am doing the story justice, but in that moment everything changed.  He was pulling me in as part of his team.  I was more than a supplier.

I want to be clear about something, I know this is a self-serving story, but it’s a true story.

I’m not sharing this to advertise my company or to exploit the hardships of the market.  Quite the contrary.  I’m writing this because my firm wants to help.  We consider ourselves part of the healthcare industry.  The core of our mission statement is “to help hospitals better fund patient care.”  We take this very seriously.

We have an ideal solution to help hospitals restore cash flow right now – in a time when they really need it – and we want to use our solution to help recover funds and drive dollars back to hospitals.  Period.

If you work in finance at a hospital and you have any questions about what tools or strategies you should be using to drive hard dollars back to your bottom line, please reach out.  As I mentioned in the intro, I have been in this industry for nearly 20 years and if SpendMend is not a fit for you then I am sure I can connect you with another provider or consultant that can help you.

Please don’t hesitate to be vulnerable and reach out.  We truly are stronger together.