Partnering with your state association for success
Edward J. Tromczynski
In the competitive landscape in which we all operate, it's imperative to leverage all relationships, including customers, partners, colleagues, and vendors. One partnership opportunity which is often overlooked is with state healthcare associations. With a little research, your organization can connect more effectively and successfully with your state association, forming a solid learning environment and strategic partnership for growing your business. Areas to consider are noted below:
1. State Associations are More than Conferences, Tradeshows and Booths - State associations promote a "we is smarter than me" environment through conferences, educational sessions, websites, and newsletters. To the degree that your organization has access to multiple state associations, there is significant value in sharing information across geographic entities. Make the connection and facilitate the associations (and members) to learn from each other as well as from your organization.
As a facility owner or manager, your state association can be a valuable partner in providing education, contacts, buying power and government relations. As a supplier, an affiliation with a state association is a "must have" relationship providing introductions and new business opportunities. Savvy organizations include an association partnership in their strategic plans.
2. Understand the Profile of the Association - Like any organization, there are multiple layers of individuals working as part of the association team. Become familiar with association staff and the Board of Directors, influential colleagues and trusted intermediaries.
Look outside the association to identify related individuals and organizations who may have influential connections with the Board of Directors and members. This could include hospitals, physicians, rehabilitation and pharmaceutical firms, accountable care organizations (ACOs), managed care organizations (MCOs), payors, and state legislators/committees.
3. Research Key Association Data Points - Similar to corporations or other organizations, the association is working in a competitive landscape. Understand how skilled nursing facilities are now inadvertently competing with assisted living facilities and home care agencies. Identify key state statistics, i.e., aging demographics, average census in skilled nursing facilities, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
A sampling of skilled nursing facility data for Colorado includes:
- Colorado Aging Demographics - Projections Indicate that by 2015:
- Colorado population will be approximately 5 million people
- 627,408 (12%) will be over the age of 65
- 258,100 (5%) will be over the age of 75
- 85,642 (2%) will be over the age of 85
- Colorado Skilled Nursing Facilities - 80% Occupancy Rate, 211 Facilities with 20,162 Beds
- 1,950 Medicare Residents with17.6% Average 30 Day Hospital Re-admissions Rate
- $510 Average Medicare Reimbursement and $189 Average Medicaid Reimbursement
- 534 Assisted Living Facilities (Wow!) and 81 Hospitals
As highlighted above, a minimal amount of research will yield useful data on understanding the overall "state of the State" and, correspondingly, in this case, the progressive Colorado Health Care Association (CHCA).
An example of a forward thinking state association executive, Arlene Miles, CHCA President and Chief Executive Officer, was recently quoted as saying: "In our ongoing efforts to reduce unnecessary hospital re-admissions, enhance the overall quality of care and improve financial outcomes, we are excited to bring the power of disease management to our member organizations."
4. Better Understand Association Needs - An association's focus is on providing leadership and support to the membership. As noted, analysis shows that associations are more than conferences, tradeshows, booths and membership dues. Areas of interest and focus might include educating healthcare professionals, reinforcing members' importance to the elderly community, and responding to the needs of members by providing ad hoc assistance.
An important aspect of the association's mission is to work to positively influence all levels of government. The purpose of these activities is to ensure that the state legislature mandates funds sufficient to appropriately meet the needs of the individuals in their members' care.
Associations are typically funded through membership fees, through conference activities and sponsorship initiatives. Get involved, participate in these marketing opportunities and connect with the Association from a position of experience and knowledge. While each state typically has a for profit and not-for-profit association, both need revenue to survive. Non-dues revenue streams are a key component of an Association's upside growth opportunity.
Use all information to your advantage. Show the association what your organization can offer in terms of a better solution, and emphasize how you can help the association members become more successful enterprises.
Strategic Summary: Connecting Successfully with the State Association - Do your homework, learn all you can and become an expert on all issues that may be important to the state, the association, and their membership. Chances are excellent that in the process, your organization will evolve into an valuable partner for the association, representing a beneficial relationship for all parties.
Edward J. Tromczynski is the CEO of COMS Interactive, LLC.