By Liz Barlowe, MA, CMC
Collaboration is defined by Wikipedia as working together to achieve a goal. On behalf of our clients, we often collaborate with families and providers to help our clients succeed. To be successful business owners/managers we must find ways to be as efficient as possible. Collaborating with fellow professionals allows us to reach our goals efficiently. Innovative collaborations occur when we think outside the box on ways to educate, market, and provide better services.
Three innovative care management executives in Boston: Emily Saltz of Elder Resources; Kate Granigan of Overlook C.A.R.E.; and Karen Wasserman of Your Elder Experts collaborated on training for their care management staff. They agreed on a topic, and I developed and presented the training. The most exciting part of this was bringing together in the same room their staff who had cautiously viewed one another as competitors. They quickly recognized their common goal of helping clients and began freely talking about their experiences. In fact we had so much interaction during the training I didn’t get through the material. The training evaluations confirmed their desire for more time. The collaborative training was a cost-effective, efficient way of educating with far more benefit than traditional methods.
Collaborative marketing provides opportunities to promote goods and services. For most care management companies designating marketing dollars may be difficult. Margins are tight and traditional marketing efforts can be expensive. One innovative way our local care management companies pooled marketing dollars was to approach the publishers of the Senior Resource Guide to request a “Care Management Page” which not only defines care management but lists the company’s telephone numbers and websites for a monthly nominal fee. A full advertisement would be prohibitive in the magazine but by combining resources, those who want to be included can.
Recognizing today’s small business economic challenges, companies have been created to help develop innovative marketing collaborations. One of the companies I have partnered with, Lifelines Academy & Network, provides small businesses focused on serving the senior market with opportunities to collaborate to reach more consumers at a discounted rate. Some of these opportunities have included collaborative advertisements in senior magazines, sponsorships and exhibits at professional conferences, and educational services. Companies like Lifelines Academy & Network are a great way to market while spending little time and money.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a sole practitioner is trying to take time off while ensuring the needs of your clients. One innovative way to address this challenge is to partner with another care management company and agree to cover each other’s caseloads when necessary. I recommend you schedule a meeting with a few of your respected competitors and discuss the benefits and challenges to partnering during absences. Agreements should be developed by an attorney to ensure you protect everyone involved. Furthermore clients must be notified and agree to allow another provider temporarily. Don’t be afraid the covering company will take your clients. By taking the necessary precautions you and your clients will be protected. Companies such as Innovate Today can assist with identifying and negotiating terms between companies to develop the best plan.
Innovative Collaborations serve our businesses and staff. Collaborative efforts are cost-effective and efficient. Innovative collaborations ultimately help us reach ours goals so start thinking outside the box on ways you can develop these opportunities.
To learn more from Liz Barlowe, check out our collaborative Geriatric Care Management training webinars!