The Catalyst … accelerating business growth in healthcare

A Big Little Life

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 @01:02 PM

I am an avid reader. This weekend I read probably the only Dean Koontz book I have never read - "A Big Little Life".
For those of you who are not Dean Koontz fans (and don't say you are not if you have never read one of his books), this is a non-fiction book he wrote as a memoir about his golden retriever, Trixie.
Admittedly, I am a dog lover. I am fortunate to have a great dog, Jeffrey, that has given us more joy and happiness than we could have imagined. As you know, the books and movies about dogs have been very popular in the past few years. I don't think that is coincidental with the down economy and other pressures we all face in our world today.
This book is worth the $15 price tag and I found several different parts in the book that really made me think about our relationships with dogs, and how we view the world if we stop and analyze it from the perspective of why dogs are our "best friends".
Trixie was adopted at the age of 3 and for the next 9 years impacted Dean and his wife Gerda with her " intelligence, her innate joy and her uncanny knack for living in the moment."
A few passages from the book:
"In this big world, she (Trixie) was a little thing, but in all the ways that mattered, including the effect she had on those who loved her, she lived a big life."
"Dog's joy is directly related to the fact that they do not deceive, do not betray, and do not covet. Innocence is neither naive nor unhip; innocence is the condition of deepest bliss."
"Loyalty, unfailing love, instant forgiveness, a humble sense of his place in the scheme of things, a sense of wonder - these and other virtues of a dog arise from his innocence. The first step toward greater joy is to stop fleeing from innocence, begin retreating from cynicism and nihilism, and embrace once more the truth that life is mysterious and that it daily offers meaningful wonders for our consideration."
'When we have the deepest affection for a dog, we do not possess that love but are possessed by it, and sometimes takes us by surprise, overwhelms us. When we take a dog into our lives, we ask for it trust, and the trust is freely given. We promise, I will always love you and bring you through troubled times. The promise is sincerely, solemnly made. But in a dog's life as in our own, there come those moments when we are not in control, when we are forced to acknowledge our essential helplessness. Looking into the trusting eyes of the dog, which feels safe in our care, and knowing that we not deserve the totality of its faith in us, we are shaken and humbled."
T.S Eliot: The only wisdom we can hope to acquire / Is the wisdom of humility.
"Dog's lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of accepting that and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because off those illusions."
Dogs live most of life
in Quiet Heart.
Humans live mostly next door
in Desperate Heart.
Now and then will do you good
to live in our zip code.
- Trixie Koontz, Bliss to You
Have a fantastic Holiday season and New Year. And may all of us live A Big Little Life..

Tags: selling, teamwork, Quality, sales, business growth, strategic thinking, business development

Avoid Ugly

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 @02:11 PM

One of my favorite sayings in life, on the surface, may seem to be a little odd:

 "Life Is Too Short To Dance with Ugly Men"

I have always heard this attributed to author, actor, and comedian Mae West. Given her seemingly before her time attitude and quotes from the 30s and 40s, she probably meant it literally.

 “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
 ― Mae West
 “I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.”
 ― Mae West
However, I have always related this quote to ATTITUDE, not physical appearance. To me, the most important thing that we control, that impacts our success and happiness more than anything else, is our ATTITUDE. Life is difficult at times, even with a positive attitude. But if you are a glass half empty person, it is a long road.
A couple of definitions of UGLY:
Disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable.
Threatening trouble or danger.
Mean; hostile; quarrelsome.
Personally, I don't want to even be around an UGLY ATTITUDE. I try to avoid hiring them, working for them, working with them and even hanging around them. We can't always control our situation, but where you can, AVOID UGLY.
You have the choice of how you react personally to situations. You can find the positive, or you can find the negative. And if you are in a situation where you can't find the positive, then take the steps to get out. It is not worth it.

That may seem over-simplistic and easy to say. But all you have to do is look around and you will find examples of people who have seemingly UGLY situations and they don't let them change their attitudes. Sure, they may have a bad moment or a bad day, we are all human. However, they don't let things turn them into UGLY PEOPLE.
Think of how many people you impact on a given day. When they walk away from you - have they "Danced with An Ugly Man"?
And maybe most importantly, what about those people you don't "have to" be nice to, how do they feel walking away from you?
Have a great week. Don't let anyone make you UGLY. Especially you. 

Rob Bahna

Tags: selling, determination, brand management, Quality, sales, business growth, business development

Steps of the Sales Call

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Mon, Sep 19, 2011 @11:37 AM

Those of you who have worked with me know that I am a huge believer in becoming a student of the Steps of the Sales Call process. I believe it is the best way to make sure you understand your process so that you can control it (without seeming like you are in control) and improve upon it. If you just wing it - how do you know why you were successful or what you need to do to win the next time?

I have developed my own version of the Steps of the Sales Call - and I believe every call should follow them - no matter how many times you have dealt with that person before. After all -someone else is calling them for the first time...
Each step has a purpose - and I know it is important to understand them if you are truly going to commit to using them. Most are designed to build trust and credibility in you and your company, uncover needs and wants, be professional and not miss anything, do a thorough presentation that uses more benefits than features - and ultimately close for commitment.


Exhaust all possibilities
Be flexible
Ask for Help
Get something done on every call

Primary Objective Established ______
Pricing Available _________
Customer Profile Information _______
Website ________


Good morning _____, this is Rob Bahna with _____. _____ is the company that has supplied you with many of your everyday medical supplies in the past.

I have been working with other ________ departments (or title you are talking to), discussing some ideas that have helped them deal with some of the unique challenges they are facing today. We have seen some outstanding customer satisfaction and positively affected budgets and outcomes.
I would like to ask you a few questions to see if some of our solutions might make sense for your department.

Introduction -Establishing Rapport
3-5 Questions about them/qualify decision making
I would like verify some of the information I have been able to learn about your facility and make sure I understand them from your perspective as the ____________(title)?

Make sure I have done my homework. The more information I know up front the less invasive my questions are and the higher their confidence level in our professionalism. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

Ask about them…..

I understand you have been a _________ for 5 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen in that time as it relates to how your responsibilities have evolved? Where do you find yourself spending a lot of time where you didn’t use to?
Besides yourself, who else do you involve in the important process of purchasing medical supplies and equipment?
Sell Your company on every customer contact...
Jane, we know it is important for you to know who you are doing business with. ___ has been servicing the emergency medical supply and equipment needs of pre-hospital professionals for ___ years. We have a proven track record of being an industry leader. We are proud to have more than 100,000 agencies and professionals rely on _____.

______, as you are well aware, over the last 10 years we have seen a shift in acuity levels. You are being asked to do higher levels of care in many situations with fewer resources, especially in today’s economy. _____ has been in business for over __ years – and we can help you deal with these challenging times.

Determine Your Customer’s Objectives
3-5 Questions About the goals/objectives/qualify product need

Make them stop and think – ask high gain questions that differentiate you and are not only situational. 

1) What Criteria do you use to evaluate your potential suppliers (business partners)?

2) How do you prefer to place your orders?
3) Which company do you currently order your supplies from today?
Do you order from more than one company?
4) Could you please share with me what your experience has been with _____?

If they do not volunteer it – ask them
5) It looks like you have not ordered from us in the last ______, could you share with me some of the reasons?
Engineer Agreement to Demonstrate Product-Program

Lead with 3 Major Benefits
________, I appreciate you taking the time to share this information with me. Based on your feedback, and some recent changes we have made(whatever areas kept them from ordering from us – or things they like about others) we believe we can make your job of ordering easier and be very competitive from a price perspective.
When do you normally place your supply orders? What do we need to do to earn a shot at your next order?
If my pricing is competitive, would there be any other reason that would prevent us from doing business together?

3-5 Questions in the Presentation – keep them involved
Validate & Propose Action
Repeat 3 Major Benefits
Trial Close – “In your opinion do you feel…."
Close for a Commitment
“The next step is…”

Post-call Planning (Customer Commitment scheduled)
Send e-mail with next steps (outline actions they should take)
Know your process and become an expert in each phase. After all, it is not what you know, but what you do that is really what is important.


Rob Bahna
Vice President of Sales
Resuscitation International

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, EHM, healthcare, medical, healthcare suppliers, Quality, sales, business growth, Management, strategic thinking, business development

The Gringo

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 @02:41 PM

The definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting different results.
S.T.O.P. doing things the same way, and you will help your organization become more effective and profitable.

Let’s assume that the doping alligations against Lance Armstrong are not true. At least for today. Throughout one of the past races, a Columbian Tour de France rider on the Kelme - Costa Blanca Team, Santiago Botero, kept a diary for the newspaper. Each day the newspaper published his diary from the previous day. Here is one of his entries.

"There I am all alone with my bike. I know of only two riders ahead of me as I near the end of the second climb on what most riders consider the third worst mountain stage in the Tour. I say 'most riders' because I do not fear mountains. After all, our country is nothing but mountains. I train year-round in the mountains. I am the national champion from a country that is nothing but mountains. I trail only my teammate, Fernando Escartin, and a Swiss rider. Pantani, one of my rival climbers. The Gringo Armstrong is in the Peleton about five minutes behind me.

I am climbing on such a steep portion of the mountain that if I were to stop pedaling, I will fall backward. Even for a world class climber, this is a painful and slow process. I am in my upright position pedaling at a steady pace willing myself to finish this climb so I can conserve my energy for the final climb of the day. The Kelme team leader radios to me that the Gringo has left the Peleton by himself and that they can no longer see him.

I recall thinking 'the Gringo cannot catch me by himself'. A short while later, I hear the gears on another bicycle. Within seconds, the Gringo is next to me - riding in the seated position, smiling at me. He was only next to me for a few seconds and he said nothing - he only smiled and then proceeded up the mountain as if he were pedaling downhill. For the next several minutes, I could only think of one thing - his smile.

His smile told me everything. I kept thinking that surely he is in as much agony as me, perhaps he was standing and struggling up the mountain as I was
and he only sat down to pass me and discourage me. He has to be playing games with me.

Not possible. The truth is that his smile said everything that his lips did not. His smile said to me, 'I was training while you were sleeping, Santiago'. It also said, 'I won this tour four months ago, while you were deciding what bike frame to use in the Tour. I trained harder than you did, Santiago. I don't know if I am better than you, but I have outworked you and right now, you cannot do anything about it. Enjoy your ride, Santiago. See you in Paris.'

Obviously, the Gringo did not state any of this. But his smile did dispel a bad rumor among the riders on the tour. The rumor that surfaced as we began the Prologue several days ago told us that the Gringo had gotten soft. His wife had given birth to his first child and he had won the most difficult race in the world - He had no desire to race, to win. I imagine that his smile turned to laughter once he was far enough not to embarrass me.

The Gringo has class, but he heard the rumors - he probably laughed all the way to Paris. He is a great champion and I must train harder. I am not content to be a great climber, I want to be the best. I learned much from the Gringo in the mountains. I will never forget the helpless feeling I had yesterday. If I ever become an international champion, I will always remember the lesson the Gringo taught me”.

The choices you make are yours for life. And the choices you make – are your life.
Make them count. And don’t ever lose because someone outworked you.

Rob Bahna
Strategies To Optimize Profitability

Tags: determination, hard work, Quality, business growth, Management

NuBone Growing Stronger with EHM

Posted by Frank Ripullo on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 @08:31 AM

Recently, EHM was selected by medical supplier, NuBone, to launch a national contract with Premier, Inc., a prominent group purchasing organization based in Charlotte, N.C.  NuBone manufactures the groundbreaking Stemvie product line, including an innovative bone graft solution that costs only a fraction of the most popular alternatives on the market.  Stemvie products offer healthcare providers dramatic savings, without the clinical contraindications of other bone graft options.

NuBone will be offering its groundbreaking products and services to nearly 2,500 Premier acute care facilities in a competitive $1B market segment.  EHM is creating and implementing a sales infrastructure for Nubone, customized to support Premier members. The consulting firm will continue to manage corporate accounts and negotiate agreements with integrated delivery networks.  Additionally, EHM plans to schedule regular meetings and webinars with Premier members.

As new healthcare reform policies are phased in, EHM is committed to educating clients on how the new changes affect their business development prospects.  The firm is helping NuBone reach the right decision makers through unique industry insight and a strong sales infrastructure, including the addition of 56 trained and qualified sales professions.  Since the launch of the Premier agreement four months ago, EHM has used its sales expertise to negotiate several IDN agreements within Premier.

Tags: Essential Healthcare, EHM, healthcare, healthcare suppliers, IDNs, integrated delivery networks, Healthcare Service Provider, GPO, Quality, NuBone, NuBone, NuBone, Premier, Premier Inc, acute care facilities, Stemvie, Management

How Value-Based Purchasing Will Affect Healthcare Suppliers

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Wed, Jun 08, 2011 @11:15 AM

A new program mandated by the federal government is offering opportunities to healthcare suppliers that can tailor their products and services in ways that help hospitals achieve performance benchmarks in categories set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Starting on Oct. 1, 2012, with the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year, Medicare hospitals and healthcare providers will be required to have in place value-based purchasing (VBP) programs, which will tie a portion of their Medicare payments to performance on measures related to certain conditions, such as heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia – to name a few. Eventually, other parameters will be added to incorporate "efficiency measures, including measures of 'Medicare spending per beneficiary,'" adjusted for adjusted for age, sex, race, severity of illness and other factors.
VBP programs are a way for to CMS to encourage – and provide incentives to – healthcare providers to buy products that can demonstrate value by reducing costs and improving patient outcomes in areas CMS has identified for improvement. Suppliers that can develop and market products and services that meet this need can move ahead of competitors and capture larger shares of the market.
Essential Healthcare Management’s team of experts can help. They work with companies to specifically target products to Medicare hospitals and healthcare providers by devising sales and marketing strategies and by connecting them with key purchasing decision-makers.
To learn more, contact us.

Tags: medical, hospitals, healthcare suppliers, Healthcare Service Provider, Quality, CMS, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Value-Based Purchasing, Medicare, VBP, patient satisfaction, business growth

How Will Value-Based Purchasing Affect Hospitals and Healthcare Providers?

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Fri, Jun 03, 2011 @11:53 AM

The Affordable Care Act requires Medicare hospitals and healthcare providers to have in place value-based purchasing (VBP) programs by the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, 2012. The initiative is a means of encouraging providers to demonstrate “value” by reducing costs and improving patient outcomes in areas that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have identified for improvement.
Inpatient acute-care hospitals that meet or exceed certain performance standards for a minimum of five measures related to the care of patients will be eligible for incentive payments, or higher Medicare payments. Initially, the program will cover the following conditions or procedures – acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure, pneumonia, certain surgeries and healthcare-associated infections. Within a year of launch, the program will expand to include “efficiency measures” that have been adjusted for age, sex, race, severity of illness, etc.
The value-based purchasing program initially places one percent of hospitals’ Medicare inpatient prospective payment system payments but increases this to two percent by the 2017 fiscal year. The program marks the first time hospitals will be paid for inpatient acute care services based on care quality and not just the quantity of services provided. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it will impact more than 3,500 hospitals across the nation. It is expected that in Fiscal Year 2013, an estimated $850 million will be allocated to hospitals based on their overall performance on a set of VBP quality measures that have been shown to improve clinical processes of care and patient satisfaction.
Next week: How Value-Based Purchasing Will Affect Healthcare Suppliers

Tags: healthcare, medical, hospitals, Healthcare Service Provider, Quality, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Value-Based Purchasing, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, VBP, patient satisfaction, business growth

What is Value-Based Purchasing?

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Wed, May 25, 2011 @11:28 AM

In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed policies for implementing a value-based purchasing (VBP) program for Medicare hospitals in accordance with the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010. Last month, the CMS solidified the VBP program by releasing a final rule that requires performance metrics. The VPB program will go into effect beginning in fiscal year 2013.

Value-based purchasing is a new concept that focuses on increasing the value that comes from purchasing medical supplies in a tangible way that can be assessed through metrics. CMS has helped identify certain aspects of hospital service that can be measured and improved, including everything from product costs and payment expediency to improving patient outcomes and customer service scores.

If the metrics indicate that a Medicare hospital has been demonstrating high levels of performance in these areas by purchasing these products, then the hospital becomes eligible to receive higher reimbursement levels, which translates directly into more money for purchasing. Payments made for hospital performance and quality measures will begin in fiscal year 2013.

So what does the implementation of value-based purchasing mean for hospitals and healthcare service providers? How will it affect healthcare suppliers? As an industry leader in connecting healthcare service providers with purchasers in hospitals, we will be examining the effects of value-based purchasing in respect to quality and cost in the coming weeks.

Next week: How Value-Based Purchasing Will Affect Hospitals and Healthcare Service Providers

Following week: How Value-Based Purchasing Will Affect Healthcare Suppliers

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, EHM, healthcare, medical, hospitals, healthcare suppliers, Healthcare Service Provider, Quality, CMS, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Value-Based Purchasing, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, VBP, business growth