Seamless Acquisition Was No Small Feat for This Risk Manager
Since March 2017, Ardent Health Services went from a network of 14 hospitals in three states to 31 in seven. It needed a more cohesive risk management program. Enter Alumine Bellone, VP of risk management.
“My scope of responsibility broadened tremendously,” she said. “Ardent more than doubled its size, and due diligence became a big aspect of my job. We acquired, sometimes, new risks with new service lines, like owned aviation. As we expanded our geographical footprint, we dealt with new requirements in each state.”
Standardization was a top priority, with focus on loss prevention and claims management. Due diligence played a major role, too; Bellone visited the facilities before acquisition and again right after, speaking with each risk management department.
“It’s all about people,” Bellone explained. “You need people’s buy-in to have a successful risk management program. I believe in managing by being present. You manage when you understand the processes, meet face-to-face and understand what’s going on.”
Clint Adams, Ardent’s CFO, said Bellone’s desire to make Ardent the best helped meet their end-goals: “We were going through this process of ‘what are you buying’ and it really took due diligence” to see how each applied policy and procedure and if they identified potential claims like Ardent.
“Alumine had a key role in the due diligence process,” Adams said. “She is an extremely hard worker with a keen appreciation that we can have a cleaner process. And that focus on being the best is pretty contagious.”
“It has been such a pleasure to see the company’s exponential growth while remaining tied to our values — that is, the commitment to providing quality health care.” — Alumine Bellone, VP of risk management, Ardent Health Services
Bellone’s visits were essential: “Sometimes understanding the processes [at acquired facilities] means understanding they might have better risk ideas than ours and adopting them.
“Ardent was managing claims in-house before [acquiring] LHP Hospital Group.” LHP, however, was using a TPA. “Acquiring facilities usually involves them adopting our methods, but we saw the TPA brought a lot of advantages to LHP,” she said.
Nine months were spent monitoring the claims handling process at LHP. Ardent ultimately followed suit and outsourced to a TPA. Additionally, Bellone consolidated all insurance policies to achieve $893,000 in synergies, developed committees to better communicate best practices, and adopted claims management procedures from the new facilities.
“It has been such a pleasure to see the company’s exponential growth while remaining tied to our values — that is, the commitment to providing quality health care,” she added.
“We still mitigate financial losses like other risk managers, but we’re also a big part of patient safety. We’re caring for the people who are most vulnerable. Risk management in this industry can literally mean the difference between life or death.”
For risk managers experiencing large expansion, Bellone suggested having a plan in place before acquisitions begin, cover risks through due diligence, and set goals based on what upper management wants most.
“Our primary focus was integration and synergy. It might be different for someone else.” &