Photo: Ryan Ball
VGM & Associates, a massive service organization for post-acute healthcare, serves thousands of different providers of all different sizes, from single independent practices to large regional and national chains.
When challenged to offer them more accurate business intelligence, VGM knew the needs of all of its members were quite different. There’s a need to help members better understand and become more efficient in their respective markets, which basically means they want to find and treat more patients.
“We’re always looking to provide a greater level of market intelligence and allow our members to help them to do business more efficiently, whether that’s identifying who the key doctors are prescribing particular products in their market, or discovering which payers are actively reimbursing for a particular product at what particular rate; or really even providing volumetric solutions to different manufacturer and vendor partners out there,” said Ryan Ball, vice president of VGM Market Data, a division of VGM & Associates.
“Basically, VGM only had access to national data, and our members needed more nuanced, targeted information to better run their businesses,” he continued. “So we saw an opportunity to provide them with local and regional information, particularly data on commercial claims, to give them a better picture of their regional markets and the patients they serve.”
LexisNexis, a vendor of, among other things, localized market data,
VGM serves the durable medical equipment provider market, so there are quite a few vendors that could potentially identify volumetric information on diagnoses, what procedures were performed or what drugs perhaps were prescribed by a particular physician.
“Specific to DME products that are built under HCPCS codes, we found that LexisNexis Risk Solutions was the best option given their ties to healthcare and all the specialty information they have,” Ball said.
“When the vendor originally pitched to us, they offered a targeted view of relevant physician markets.
“So rather than looking at the million doctors we can see actively diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea or COPD, we can look at the 100,000 doctors we can see actively connected to a claim for a CPAP machine or an oxygen concentrator,” he continued. “So, we can really zoom in and get a lot of nuanced information that other vendors simply couldn’t provide.”
LexisNexis Risk Solutions had all the data and information needed to give VGM members accurate insights relevant to running their practices, he added.
“The vendor had a lot of relevant commercial claims data that really wasn’t available in the marketplace previously,” Ball said. “And since then, VGM has just continued to build on our relationship. Our membership feels the information they’re getting is exactly what they need.
“Being able to put your services in the hands of more relevant patients is a win-win on both sides,” he contended. “Ultimately, we’re able to provide access to physicians – maybe to providers and patients who are off the beaten path from a geographic area standpoint, or to providers with really niche services – which keeps those practices operating and serving patients.”
The more those providers can focus on patient care, and the less they need to focus on sales and marketing, the better off a community is going to be, he added.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
VGM first started working with LexisNexis Risk Solutions when the vendor’s MarketView product was new.
“While we started off for the first several years of our partnership delivering to our members something similar to a Microsoft Excel workbook, now that data feeds directly into our web-based data visualization tool called VGM Market Data,” Ball explained.
“The presentation has really changed the game in terms of being able to position data to companies,” he continued. “We’re able to go a lot deeper and really show our members the value. We’re able to really target demographic information based on their market area in a way we couldn’t do before.”
That’s been a boon for VGM the last few years.
“So what we did is basically take that underlying data set and create a much easier way for our customers to interact with it,” he said. “You know, sales directors, obviously marketing directors, and folks that work at the executive level, there’s a couple of different use cases here for them.
“A lot of folks at the executive level are being asked to quantify their market share and develop some seriously detailed growth plans,” he continued. “To do that, they need to understand their competition and what opportunities they have to expand. So, they have some tough questions to answer, but now they have the tools and data necessary to find out.”
VGM and its members now have access to near-real-time claims data updates, and the claims data went from national-level only to now being narrowed down to a local level to better meet company needs based on geographic footprint and focus.
“And for us, as we started feeding MarketView data into our visual platform, we have had more members sign up and we’ve seen an increase in revenue for our services,” Ball reported.
“But our members also see their own improvements,” he added. “They’re better able to navigate the complicated supply chain we have in DME right now, and a lot of them have been able to find new patients, expand into new markets, and really meet their business goals. The feedback we are getting is all very positive.”
One VGM member, DASCO, a medical equipment supplier, has reported seeing a 5-8% annual increase in sales year over year due to the use of VGM Market Data. As the data provided has improved, so did DASCO’s revenue. “And the story is the same for a lot of members,” Ball said.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Don’t create a shotgun approach and aim broadly when looking to fill a market need,” Ball advised. “Come up with a targeted approach that allows you to really focus on where you want to grow. What’s the most important area where you feel like you can make the most impact? You have to answer that, then you can develop a strategy and find supportive technology.
“Anything you use needs to be able to really zoom in and narrow things down, otherwise its value will be limited,” he continued.
One also needs to be able to make use of whatever data one is given, he further advised.
“Even if a vendor provides the best data in the world, it’s useless if you can’t make sense of it,” he concluded. “It will just sit on a shelf. So, you have to figure out how to actually integrate it into your underlying business operations, and then hold people accountable for what you’re asking them to do.”
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.
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