Planning to Plan For Charge Capture Growth

by Hart Williford, President & CEO

2012 was good for us at Ingenious Med. Normally seen as just a charge capture company, but with the ability to do so much more, customers embraced our newly-branded impower (formerly IMBills and Practice Manager) platform and we had some great opportunities with our new imagine business intelligence tools. Our sales team did a great job engaging with customers. Our support staff consistently fulfilled our service promise. And our technical folks were really rolling with improvements and new capabilities. So I am fortunate in many ways to have the opportunity to lead this talented group of people on our growth journey into 2013.

As good as our growth is, we are not remotely complacent about what it takes to continue to leverage this into this new year and beyond. We have more technology and tools to roll out to a market that is truly embracing it. We are proud to be adding people to our teams on this exciting journey. But how do we plan for the exponential growth we are experiencing now and expecting for the future? This is not a rhetorical question. It impacts everything that we do from staffing to product development to sales efforts and initiatives. Not to mention that our investors have a keen interest in knowing where we are going next month, next year and into the future.

The process is not without complexity and it certainly can create anxiety with the people who are responsible for living up to our collective commitments – which is to say, all of them. There is naturally some potential conflict between what management expects and what hard working teams want to be accountable for. And I have seen for myself that it is not unusual for annual plans to be a top-down edict because leaders also have commitments to keep. But in my opinion, this is not the way to go, particularly for a high-growth company. I have a few reasons for this.

First, for younger companies (and I include us even at 13 years), there is not a lot of relative historical data to use in forecasting. The early years were about technology development and formulating strategy so sales were smaller. As we ramp up, the growth is both exponential and “stair step” in that a few big customers can add a big percentage to the growth curve. So using past data is tricky.

Second, there is a lot of pride and momentum in place within the organization.  Everybody contributes and the results are easily seen. Sales teams are doubly excited because they have seen the success at the customer level and can see what’s in the pipeline better than most. So a plan for next year that flows from the top is potentially demotivating.

Finally, as leaders of an organization, we would have to be crazy to hire good people who have proven their capabilities (here or elsewhere) and then discount their input.  I know that most managers agree with this in principal but I also know that it happens all the time and many organizations don’t even recognize it. There is always pressure to “hit the numbers.” It is one thing to challenge people and teams to reach as far as they can.  It’s another to tell them that they are going to Mars when you have potentially only given them enough fuel to get to the moon.

At Ingenious Med, as with almost all of the other great places I’ve been associated with, we address this in an elegantly simple way… we engage and plan all the time. Our sales team meets every Monday and I am a part of that. They long ago got over seeing me as the “boss” in that setting and have accepted me as part of the team. We review what happened, what’s working, opportunities near and far and identify resources and obstacles to overcome.. every week.

So when each new year rolls around (and it does so faster every year), we are very well prepared to move quickly to compiling our in-process activities and expectations into our plan. Most people are already bought into their own contribution to the bigger equation. As leaders, our job is to make sure that we have sufficiently challenged the entire organization to stretch without sacrificing buy-in and motivation.

It may not be quite as easy as it sounds and I don’t mean to imply that good planning and stellar delivery against goals doesn’t require coordination and hard work… quite the contrary. But we are doing things that work for Ingenious Med and I suspect will work for other growth companies too. We are planning – indeed we know – that our success continues into the forthcoming year and beyond.

With all my best,
Hart

About Ingenious Med

Founded in 1999 by a group of practicing physicians, Ingenious Med is an award-winning platform that automates the activities of inpatient physicians. Ingenious Med automates the revenue and charge capture processes for more than 22,000 users in the nation’s leading healthcare facilities. Ingenious Med’s Inpatient Physician Management Platform, impower,  is the nation’s largest charge capture and physician performance solution in the healthcare industry today. The cloud-based, charge capture and analytics platform provides real-time data that helps hospital systems and physician groups improve physician productivity and efficiency, enhance quality of care, maximize revenue, increase billing accuracy and ensure compliance.