When the Madaket platform went live in 2015, there were a few things we knew for sure:
1. The healthcare industry is plagued by endless cycles of administrative transactions that take far more time than they should.
2. Any solution to that problem had to be forward-thinking and not just a new way of doing the same old work.
3. We had a good idea for how to build that solution through automation.
Since then, however, there have been many new lessons as we have gone about changing the way provider data is managed throughout the healthcare universe. In just the past seven years, we’ve already picked more than a decade’s worth of lessons.
The power of knowledge
The Madaket journey started with an idea that our founders knew could have an impact. Working at a company that specialized in streamlining and organizing the many complicated elements of deals in the financial world, they saw a way to use that kind of technology to tame the chaotic labyrinth that healthcare provider data has to traverse in order for providers to connect with payers and intermediaries.
Before trying to force that technology into the healthcare space, though, our founders also knew they had to do the research needed to truly understand what all of the stakeholders involved needed. Our company has always been grounded in doing good primary research on the problems we’re trying to solve, gathering information around what causes those problems, and then building a software and a service solution that addressed those needs. That’s still what makes us tick.
That research is vital to everything we do. One of our first lessons learned was that we cannot assume the research we do for one prospective client will apply to all of them. One of the challenges of provider data management is the specific nature of how each transaction must be handled, and that’s a reflection of the uniqueness of each entity. Some providers like to have total control over their data management processes, while others outsource to practice or revenue cycle management third parties. Even more will cede control to clearinghouses.
No one model fits all shapes and sizes of providers and intermediaries, so we have had to learn to be nimble and adapt to the complexities involved in each step.
For every lesson we’ve learned about what we do for our clients, we’ve learned just as many about how we should do it. Just like any growing company, we have had to figure out how to hire and deploy the right people. We have had to learn what strategies and tactics make the difference for our clients. Namely, we’ve had to push ourselves to be more than a software company, and to become one that is service-oriented, too.
Three of our founders worked together in engineering and product before forming Madaket. Their abilities in designing and managing software were already in place when we got our start, which is part of the reason our solution is as robust as it is. They had camaraderie and understanding, which they developed through working together and then passed on to our product engineering teams.
The service part of our business was where we needed to grow. We have been given one of the best possible problems for a developing business to solve: the problem of scale. As more and more organizations have come to connect with Madaket and seek out our services, we have had to develop a strategy for managing that growing client population – a strategy that went beyond, “let’s just throw some more people at the problem.” Our teams are now developed with service delivery in mind, and combining service delivery with product and engineering is a new, but crucial, element to how we do business.
We’re still in the early stages of that strategy, but it has already led to improved communication around how we improve both our product and the way we deliver it.
Growth and grit
There’s one other thing that our people need to have, and it’s something we probably didn’t think too much about when we first got started: grit. There’s no other way to describe it. For a young, growing company trying to elbow into an industry and create a conversation around a neglected need, we needed to have people who weren’t just smart and talented (they are), but who were also willing to put in hard work and find solutions where others only see problems. They had to be gritty, and they had to be willing to improvise.
Not everything we do can be improvised on the fly, of course, but we find that it’s been important for us to seek out new members of our team by identifying those people who can take a puzzle and put it together by whatever means necessary. The energy level has to be around trying to fix problems that nobody else would fix if we didn’t focus on them. They can learn how to follow the rules and create streamlined, uniform processes. They can’t learn how to have that inner ability to just get the job done. Fortunately, our team is loaded with that.
Finding our way through the maze
We knew before we even got started that we were stepping foot in an industry that has many different influencers, opinions, and ways of doing business. Although providers, payers, and everyone in between have to harmonize in order to get anything done, they can sometimes have wildly different methods and motivations. We have purposefully put ourselves right in the middle of all of that, knowing full well that it was going to require a lot of creative and innovative thinking to make it all work.
There was a time when payers were not too enthusiastic about a solution that ultimately accelerated the process of moving dollars to providers. What they realized, though, was that a slower and more obstacle-filled process isn’t actually in their best interest. Every piece of information that gets delayed or damaged in the transmission process creates more problems for everyone involved, not just the providers waiting to be paid for their services.
In this industry, money and information are moved through many different entities – private sources, employers, and the government being the most prominent – and that often leads to individualized, siloed processes which create iterative nightmares for the people and organizations trying to manage the data. Even something as simple as a doctor’s address change becomes a significant problem, because the question of how it should be managed and transmitted is often answered with, “it depends.” When that gets multiplied many times over, the administrative burden starts to pile up.
All of those barriers and complexities are also the answer to the larger question: “Why hasn’t this been fixed yet?” It can seem so simple, yet the more work we do to streamline provider data management, the more work we know is ahead of us.
It’s a major challenge, and it’s one that still hasn’t been conquered by anyone in our industry yet. Still, one of the key lessons we’ve learned in these last seven years is this: we’re ready for that challenge.