It’s no surprise, I’m sure, that there has been a lot happening in healthcare. Consolidation is one of those big trends. In healthcare for the past few years, it’s been mergers and acquisitions everywhere. This week’s guests have decided to buck the consolidation trend, putting their focus squarely on the customer.
I’m very excited to have Jim and Greice Murphy from Advanced Care Pediatrics on the show this week. We talk industry changes, consolidation, transforming an entrenched industry, and the culture of intense customer care.
Find the Right Industry and the Right Place
After moving to Atlanta from Brazil as a currency trader, pregnant with her first child, Greice went to her husband, Jim, and voiced her desire to have a business (I love having married couples on the show, and these
two are a riot). As Founder and CEO of Afterburner, which trains corporations on flawless execution, Jim was easily able to recognize an opportunity in healthcare that presented itself a few months later at a conference.
They vetted this opportunity, brought in a third partner, and Advanced Care Pediatrics was born. In examining the Atlanta area, they found that industry was dominated by multidiscipline, large corporations, and recognized a gap in the market that was perfect for a small entrepreneurial company to fill.
Keep Your Eyes on the Target
Be aware of the market, and in particular, know the players in your space. Since starting ACP, a number of her competitors have merged. At first Greice was apprehensive, but then she saw the opportunity. As the companies get larger, they often lose what makes them unique. They lose their brand integrity. They lose their customer service.
Instead of losing business, Greice says, “I have seen completely the opposite. We have been able to capitalize on [the consolidation], because the niche that we serve is so specialized, that the families want to feel special – not just feel, but be special.”
Many of the ACP staff and clients have left those larger companies, seeking a place where they feel appreciated. Says Greice, of the industry changes, “It has affected us more than once, but we’re passionate about the business, and we are on a mission to change the industry, and that is what we have done.”
Don’t Treat Your Customers Like a Number
ACP provides personalized services that their incoming customers (and staff) have been craving. The “transfer families” that come to ACP are seeking the high-touch customer service that a decentralized competitor with leadership thousands of miles away just cannot give. Greice explains that ACP puts families first, ensuring that it takes care of its staff. “We decided that we’re not going to just raise the bar, but we’re going to do things differently. We’re going to pay attention to details, we’re going to train our nurses better, and we’re going to recruit only the best of the best. And that’s what has led to our growth so far.”
Pulling from their business knowledge outside of the healthcare industry, Greice and Jim have worked with their team to create effective standardized processes supporting the patients and staff. Greice says, “We have a very steady on boarding process for every single patient that we have. If a family started the care with us yesterday, we have a process where the whole organization touches the family in the next 30 days, from a phone call, to a thank you note, to double checking the kind of treatment, or a face-to-face visit.”
This opens up channels of communication for the family, allowing them full access to the organizations resources. ACP continues to develop their brand and culture in the small activities of care – the way they greet customers, the way they handle themselves throughout the care cycle, and being rigorous about being prompt when they arrive to care for a child.
Greice explains, “At orientation, we say, this is who we are, and this is our key impetus. We even make [employees] sign to tell us that they understood, and we’re holding them accountable to do so.” ACP follows up with patient surveys, phone calls, and inquiries on experience and suggested improvements. If anything is not going as planned, the team stops for an immediate debrief, and takes the time to get back on track. These processes are standard practice of ACP, have been implemented throughout the organization, and have successfully driven cultural imperatives down to daily employee behavior.
As I hear from so many successful CEOs, culture is a top priority for Greice. She says, “Our culture is the most important thing that we can have, and our culture is about families and patients first.”
Strategy is the Secret Sauce
As I mentioned, one of the things that makes ACP unique is the fact that both Greice and Jim come from outside of healthcare. Jim says, “We came in with a brand new, fresh look, a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of energy.” They also brought strong business skill-sets, and a commitment to serving families.
Jim explains, “We all realized that there were certain disciplines that weren’t necessarily at play in home healthcare; one was standardization, and the other one was an absolute no holds focus on the outcome, of not only the children that we were taking care of, but also the family and the family atmosphere.”
When developing the business, they followed the system Jim uses in his consulting practice at Afterburner. Compatible data in home healthcare is lacking, especially in the pediatric area, so they based their strategy on market size, and on a commitment to caring for families. Looking at critical leverage points, they targeted their resources in areas they were clear made the most difference for families. They focus on training their staff and standardizing processes to better serve the customers. They were able to make a professional impression quickly, focusing on business development and standardized practices.
A big part of their strategy is to remain streamlined, and focused on doing what they do best. Says Greice, “Because we’re specialized, we’re not trying to do 10 things. What we do is skilled nursing care, or what we call private duty nursing. We’re not trying to provide services such as providing equipment or medication.”
When it is all said and done, for ACP, the focus is squarely on the patient. As Jim says, “If we work really hard on the outcomes of our families, the rest of it is going to fall in place.” With their recent placement on the INC 5000, ACP is clearly delivering on its promise.