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Guest Columns

Mentoring: Free Fuel for Success!

Kunal Jain


In May 2011, I witnessed the largest mentorship event in Silicon Valley, California. TiEcon 2011 attracted innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. There were keynote speakers such as Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chair of the Startup America Partnership; Vinod Khosla, founding CEO of Sun Microsystems and founder of Khosla Ventures; Marissa Mayer, vice president of Location & Local Services, Google; Drew Houston, founder and CEO of Dropbox; David Ferrucci of IBM, lead scientist of Watson Technology (Jeopardy! The IBM Watson Challenge); and Salman Khan, Founder of the Khan Academy.

I attended a marketing session presented by experts like Jim Fowler, CEO of Jigsaw, and Shanker Trivedi, marketing genius and vice president of Nvidia. The best part was the one-on-one sessions with these accomplished people. They answered even the most ridiculous questions we asked. Small entrepreneurs such as I raised questions on what are the things we should ask when looking to hire a senior executive to run our business or marketing department. They came up with real-time examples and scenarios.

One of the answers which caught my attention was from Atul Bhatnagar, CEO and president of IP network testing solutions provider Ixia, which has 1,300 employees. But he still interviews all key senior manager candidates himself. He talks to references of finalist candidates to get a clearer picture on each candidate. Bhatnagar says it is important to spend time hiring the right kind of people and this can only be achieved if you spend quality time and not short-changing the process. He further states that if you find little discomfort in hiring process, do not hire that person; trust your own intuition. Measure the passion of the person whom you are interviewing, their energy, intellect and engagement in various previous tasks they performed for someone else in their career.

I asked Shanker Trivedi who is the VP sales of Nvidia, “What are the key attributes a person should look for while hiring a marketing person for one’s organization?” He came up with the answer that a company should never hire just one person for marketing or sales; you should hire two people in the beginning and over a period of time judge their performance. Give similar tasks to both and see the outcomes. Watch their leads, give them benchmarks and then measure the performance based on the results. After a few months, you will know who is working out better. Let low performers go. The ideal sales expenses toward salary should be 1 to 2 percent of the company revenue. So, the person whom you are hiring should be able to generate 10 times of their salary. What a valuable and wonderful advice! I will remember it for the rest of my life whenever I hire people.

Jim Fowler CEO of Jigsaw explained his rule of 5 while hiring sales people. He believes that you hire 5 people for sales and 3 will fail, 1 will perform 50 percent, 1 will perform 70 percent. Spend eight hours in preparation before meeting a prospect. Use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn intensively and send people messages that you are genuinely interested in listening them. Do not hesitate to show your keenness to people you are looking to meet.

There were more than 3,000 entrepreneurs from all over the world who shared free advice and mentoring sessions during the conference presented by several Indus-region-born entrepreneurs in the United States. The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) has chapters all over the world. I was instrumental in opening its Jaipur chapter 12 years ago. We have the Florida chapter for which you can either contact me to become a member or visit http://florida.tie.org/

The Tampa Bay region is full of entrepreneurs, especially in the healthcare industry. I remember running up to Dr. Kiran Patel all the time and asking for free advice for small issues whenever we met at local parties. He is so generous that I do not hesitate to discuss my business issues with him and he reciprocates in the same warm manner every time and tries to help me with his wise advice. This is the power of mentoring and networking.

The basic rule of mentorship is that you should be able to identify the person who can be your mentor and make honest attempt to contact him or her. Those who have achieved genuine success in their lives and careers will always be ready to listen to you and extend their help, if possible, with valuable advice. I have never heard “no” from any successful entrepreneur.

Mentoring is absolutely a free fuel to achieve success. The only investment it requires is your time, commitment to change yourself, and willingness to leave behind the “My way is the best way” attitude. As long as you have the ability to grasp the experience from other entrepreneurs, you can be successful.

Kunal Jain is a member of TIE Florida and founder of Practiceforces, a healthcare billing and EMR consulting firm in Tampa. He can be reached at (727) 771-1300 or email kunalj@practiceforces.com

Accountable Care Organizations: An Overview

Kunal Jain

by Amol Nirgudkar, CPA

One of the biggest healthcare buzz phrases in recent memory is ACO or accountable care organization. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, hospitals and doctors throughout the United States have wondered about and debated the merits of a concept that, in theory, could save Medicare as much as $940 million over the first four years of the program. It is in every physician’s best interest to know how it will affect his or her practice in particular, and health care in America in general.

What exactly is an ACO? In short, it is a network of doctors and hospitals working together to coordinate diagnostic and treatment services for patients. According to the rules laid out in the Affordable Care Act, an ACO must agree to provide health care for no fewer than 5,000 fee-for-service (not Medicare Advantage) Medicare beneficiaries for three years at a minimum. Since the revised regulations were unveiled by the Department of Health and Human Services in October 2011, physician groups and hospitals around the country have scrambled to piece together networks of specialists, diagnosticians, primary care physicians and other healthcare providers to have new ACOs in place by the time the program launches in April 2012.

The ACO concept means different things to different groups.
For patients, it means rather than receiving “piecemeal” health care – a primary care physician under one umbrella, specialists and diagnostic services under different umbrellas entirely – they receive the full span of health services from one integrated group. It is similar to the concept of coordinated care groups, only on a much larger scale. The theoretical upshot for patients is a potential reduction in duplicative or irrelevant testing – testing that might be carried out under the prior Medicare system without a second thought.

For doctors and hospitals, it means several important things. First, each physician or specialist is “accountable” to other members of the ACO for keeping costs down and quality of service at an acceptable level. The goal of an ACO is to coordinate patient care and to shift the historical financial incentives for healthcare away from ordering tests and performing numerous procedures to more preventive care and careful management of chronic diseases.

Second, financial incentives reward those who meet specified benchmarks for quality of care. The financial rewards that can be received by ACOs are based on two components: 1) Savings that the ACO achieves over what Medicare projected that it would have paid with respect to the ACO’s patient population under the fee-for-service system; and 2) Quality and coordination of care provided. During the initial three year contract period, the fee-for-service payment system will continue along with the financial rewards. ACOs that continue after the first three year contract period will also be required to share risk (i.e. to pay back a portion of the fee-for-service income received if the amount exceeds the benchmarks).

One advantage ACO supporters have trumpeted is that doctors and hospitals – rather than insurance carriers – would be in control of the program. This is the essential difference between an ACO and an HMO, but it does not mean insurance companies are relegated entirely to the sideline when it comes to administering this new style of healthcare coordination. In fact, many insurance carriers around the country have announced plans to form their own ACOs for the private market. Insurers tout their ability to collect and track patient data and provide reliable reports as valuable assets to any effort to create a new ACO.

The bottom line for physicians is that ACOs will undoubtedly change the landscape of health care in the United States. It remains to be seen exactly how sweeping these changes will be, and how quickly change will take effect on a grand scale. The one certainty is that healthcare providers must pay close attention and decide how best to position themselves in relation to ACOs over the coming months.

Amol Nirgudkar, CPA, is the managing partner of Reliance Consulting LLC (www.reliancecpa.com). He can be reached at (813) 931-7258 or email amol@reliancecpa.com

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