Thursday, January 12, 2017

HSCI Interview with Keith Weaver of Carepoint: Episode 1

In this podcast episode, Lance King with Healthcare Compliance Solutions interviews Keith Weaver, owner of Carepoint, to discuss how his company helps health care providers. We will pinpoint some problems health care providers experience before they decide to reach out to a company like Carepoint, and will have Keith explain what Carepoint solutions provides. I believe our readers and viewers will find our discussion valuable. We at Healthcare Compliance Services have recently entered a partnership with Carepoint to do some fun things that will benefit you.

LANCE KING: Welcome, Keith. How did you become involved with Carepoint?
KEITH WEAVER: Hello, Carepoint is a group purchasing organization. Before I joined Carepoint, I owned a home health and hospice, plus some other businesses. I was familiar with group purchasing in these roles, but was always looking for ways to cut costs, so we could know how to keep more of our profits. About five or six years ago, I sold some of my companies, and I was looking to get involved with another company. That's when I came across Carepoint. Now, I also have a background as an attorney, so the world of contracts and contract negotiation is very familiar to me. So when I came across the opportunity to become an owner at Carepoint, I saw it was a great blend of working with the medical field—with the different clinics, doctors, nursing homes—and contract management as we put contracts together to save our members money. It has been a great ride the last four years, and I have enjoyed helping members. Actually, the company has existed since 2000, so around sixteen years now, but my involvement with it has been only the last four to five years.


Many doctors and associates have either recently joined or started a practice. What “pain points” does Carepoint address for its customers?
Medicare and different insurance carriers are increasingly cutting back what they reimburse doctors. It’s making it harder. For a long time, the medical field profits made pretty abundant profits. Now, more and more people are cutting back. They have to look at cutting salaries, or cutting other places, so if there are ways Carepoint can save them money, help their bottom line, the better that is for the employees, for the doctor, and for everybody involved in the medical practice. Doing that solves one of their big “pain points” of not being able to keep more of their profits.

Another big “pain point” for practices is that finding the vendors and products it needs takes such a long time. Think about the last time you shopped for a car. How long did you shop for it? There are various cars, various dealers. How did you find the best deal? How did you find what you wanted? All of those things take time. It is similar to when a medical practice looks at vendors. To research and vet each vendor to find which offers the best deal takes time. Carepoint works with all of our members to find vetted vendors that 1) will offer a discount to our members, and 2) come highly recommended, that work with us, and are motivated to provide great services because they work with the members as a whole. Thus, it saves the individual member not only money, but also the time needed to find and compare, say, five or six different possible vendors, see what each offers, and to negotiate the best deal. Carepoint takes out all of those “pain” issues. We hand everything to our members with some pre-negotiated rates. It is then much easier for them to look at it, make a decision, and get going on it.

So two major concerns for many health care practices are finding the right vendor and finding the right price, as many practices must use several vendors. Carepoint helps by offering a discounted group rate.

With these in mind, please tell us how a health care provider interested in your service would sign on Carepoint. Also, please explain how Carepoint works with its members once they do join.
The process of joining Carepoint is easy. There is a short application that goes through their basic demographic information, and what kind of practice they run so we can understand what contracts to offer.

We do all the service for people. First, we assign all new members a case manager. The case manager then calls them to review the vendors they use, and what products they buy. We then find the best contracts for them so they don't have to. Sometimes members will say when they first come on, “I just want to go to a website and look.” Well, to look through two thousand contracts is a waste of their time. If our case manager can say, for example, “Oh, I see you are looking for a health care solutions compliance contract,” we can then show them we have a contract with this company here, these are the benefits, and this is the price. It saves them the time of searching through all the contracts. So having a case manager is a huge benefit, because they can work with someone from the practice one-on-one.

The other thing a case manager will do for the member is what we call “researches.” For example, we just had a member clinic call us. They wanted to buy a new ultrasound machine. They looked it up; they found the one that they wanted, or one of three. It was going to cost $57,000. So they called up their case manager. The case manager looked through our contract, talked to some of our vendors, and found we could actually get an ultrasound for about fifty percent off. The clinic actually ended up buying two ultrasound machines, paying $63,000 for two versus $57,000 for just one because it was such a good deal. Two of the doctors decided they each wanted a new machine, so they bought two of them! That sort of research is something the case manager does to save time, so the practice no longer needs to do it on its own.




Walk us through your vendor vetting process—its importance, and what goes into it.
As you can imagine, there are other group purchasing organizations out there. What I believe people look for from a group purchasing organization are good, quality deals. They want to know the vendor they buy from offers good pricing. But they also want value, not necessarily the cheapest, but a combination of best price and quality. Our reputation, then, hangs on the contracts we offer. Without mentioning names, we had a contract where the vendor was quite good, but after four or five years we suddenly started hearing complaints from our member. This was a national contract with a national company. We went to the vendor and complained, went up the ranks, but could not get the solution we wanted. We discharged them, negotiated with another vendor, and started working with this new company because, again, the quality of the service, the quality of that contract, is our reputation. Carepoint will make sure we have quality vendors that work well with our members. If not, our members will not keep those contracts.

What factors help you decide whether to keep a vendor? Does Carepoint use a regularly scheduled process to evaluate its vendors?
Carepoint’s contracts are typically either a three- or one-year contract, depending on the nature of the vendor. We evaluate those contracts at renewal time to determine if we still want to stay with that vendor.

More importantly, we are member driven. Our members dictate to us which contracts they use, which ones they want to use, and which vendors are good. That means we rely heavily on member feedback. For example, let’s say Carepoint does not have a contract for carpet cleaning. If we have members come to us asking for a good, quality contracted vendor for carpet cleaning to get a better price, this tells us we need find a contract with a good, trustworthy vendor that can offer a good deal. So Carepoint is entirely member driven. We love member feedback. We get feedback as they talk to the account manager. Members email us, or talk to us through other ways. That’s what directs our company.

What would you say to potential customers that might wonder if Carepoint, as a Utah-based company, offers contracts with vendors in other parts of the country?
About ninety percent of our contracts are national contracts with companies like 3M, McKesson, Henry Schein, Covidien—companies that are well known, established, and nationwide.

We also have regional contracts. Let’s go back to the example of carpet cleaning. You are probably not going to find a national company for carpet cleaning. Instead, we will find a regional company that works in a three- or four-state radius, and we will do a contract with them. Then we will find similar vendor in a different area and do a regional contract there. We have regional contracts throughout the United States for those services and products that a national company might not offer. Those cover about ten percent of our contracts, but the majority of our contracts are with national companies that provide service anywhere, be it an urban, rural, or metropolitan area—wherever where you might be.

You mentioned that Carepoint works with some big names in the industry. Those sorts of companies typically offer a wide range of products and sub-products. Does Carepoint’s website offer your members all of a vendor’s products, or only a limited selection?
Our website is not that extensive because we focus heavily on customer service. Instead of relying on a website, we want a member to call the case manager because contracts change all the time—and sometimes prices do, too. Our case manager will actually do a cost study for you. For example, a new doctor's office may come on that buys one hundred fifty products from McKesson. We will go through these line item by line item, comparing the cost of each item to see whether we can save money, then sit down with them to go over the report. They do not buy through us directly; they buy through the vendor. If our member logs on McKesson’s website, they will now have our contracted rates. That site will show if Carepoint contracts an item. They can go through the site’s catalog to see if these five items here have contract prices, so they know right there if they are getting a contracted price or not. If for some reason they see a non-contracted item, the member can call to ask whether it should be under contract, or if it is an outlier item without a contract. Having that case manager to do all of that for you is an invaluable service. We really focus on that customer service.

Do case managers contact members periodically to see whether they need more services from Carepoint?
Yes. They attempt to contact the practices by telephone, but that is hard to make work in the medical field. Most of the contact, then, comes through periodic emails offering services, and letting them know of updates going on with different contracts.

Does Carepoint focus more on particular types of medical practices?
Due to the nature of our contracts, we work with most any type of medical company, whether it is a surgical center facility like a nursing home, or a clinic. For example, we have several members such as eye doctors, or dentists, that we might not have as many contracts for their specialty. If you are a pediatrician, an orthopedic doctor, a family practitioner, or any of those, our contracts typically cover eighty to ninety percent of what theses practitioners buy because we are so widespread. So in some of those specialties, like an eye doctor, they buy certain products that we don't necessarily have contracts for, but we will help them wherever we can.

How does Carepoint handle cases where it lacks a contract a member needs? Do you refer them out to a network, or do you function rather as a one-stop shop, finding all products and services for your customers?
We definitely want to be there for customer service. Not so much a one-stop shop, but we do want to be a trusted advisor, so members will come to us and ask, “This is what I'm looking for. What can you do for us?” If we can help, we do. If we can't, we have other affiliate vendor options. We work with some co-ops specific to what the members are purchasing. They don't have as many options, but they do have quite good pricing for what their co-op is about because they are highly specialized. We will work with members like that. Again, we want to be there to help our members in any way we can, but you can't be everything to everyone. [Laughs.]

Healthcare Compliance Solutions reaches out to many smaller practices that would classify themselves as entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur yourself, Keith, what advice would you give to entrepreneurs trying to succeed when the state of the industry might make finding success more challenging?
That is a good question, and a broad one. Every business has its ups and downs, so part of what we do is examine what systems our members have in place, and whether the members have something systematic. If you do, and you are using that system, simply keep doing that, and those ups will come back at some point. Because of my background—and my passion for working with entrepreneurs in the small clinics, the small business people—we do have a newsletter that goes out monthly. The newsletter not only includes updates about our contracts, but we also provide articles that focus on management, or on different aspects of human resources. You and I have talked in particular, Lance, about changes in regulations and policy. We like to get those ideas out to our members as well because that all goes to the management of their company. It goes to how they run their company, whether it is about compliance, or basic management on how to be better managers, how they can run their business better.

It seems that Carepoint’s services help medical practices learn to do more with less. People from medical practices constantly tell me that they are just scrambling about to pick up all the pieces. With all the demands mounting on them, they often wonder, “What is my position anymore? I am taking on so many responsibilities. . .” Over time, they start dragging; they lose the passion, and the reason they went into that practice. Carepoint seems to help these people.
Right. We try to take some burden off their shoulders of making their procurement—where they get their supplies, their services—making that part easier, taking one thing off their shoulders. Like you said, everyone you talk to is being bombarded by tasks being added to them daily. Their job descriptions are getting longer all the time.

And not much more pay either.
That is true. Very true. It is an ongoing battle to maintain that balance. Obviously, we only work in one small area, but if we can take some of that burden off in that area, that is what we want to do.

Fantastic. How do you see Carepoint growing in the next five years?
Our growth in the last year has come from many smaller clinics. It is easy to aim to get with the bigger clinics that have, say, a hundred employees, but we recently found we could help the small clinics a great deal. It is very enjoyable to help a one- or two-man clinic, and see the benefit we can provide them. We have found many smaller clinics we can help. Their expenses may not be much from a dollar amount, but their expenses are substantial compared to their overall budget. Every little bit helps, and they are much more appreciative because it means so much more to them. So that smaller clinic covers a huge area of growth for us—smaller assisted living facilities, or smaller nursing homes, those kind of practices.

Last question. How can people learn more about joining Carepoint, that they may gain access to your case managers and pool of vendors? What is your website? Do you have a social media presence?
Well, I'm old school. [Laughs.] I am not a Millennial and hip like you are! We do have the website, www.carepointgp.com. The site has our email address and phone number. The easiest way to contact us is through email or phone. Then a case manager will follow up to walk the potential member through the process, and set up what is necessary if they would like a cost study. That is what they do on a regular basis. I like to think they do it well!

LANCE KING: On behalf of our readers, our viewers, and HCSI, I express appreciation to Keith Weaver of Carepoint for being with us today. I found our visit informative and enjoyable. His company offers an exciting service that makes operating a medical practice that much simpler and affordable. Carepoint offers time—more time to do what matters most: caring for your patients.


Please visit www.carepointgp.com to learn if Carepoint can help your practice. If you have any other questions, visit us at http://hcsiinc.com/, or email us at lking@hcsiinc.com. We will make sure your questions get to Keith. Thank you for your attention and your interest.

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