San business-writing sample:
As a freelance writer, I had no prior knowledge of most of the things described on this page (especially in the “true stories” section). Solid skills in interviewing clients — which can happen in person, on the phone, by email, or by some combination of those — can be just as important as solid writing skills in developing a piece such as this.
Health care executives have been in an unenviable position in recent years: the decisions they’re routinely forced to make are among the most difficult and complicated in the entire business community. The industry is faced with shrinking margins on the one hand and public outcry over skyrocketing prices on the other. It’s buffeted by a whole series of interlocking forces, such as rapidly changing (and fantastically expensive) technology, heightened public expectations about the effectiveness of treatment, constantly shifting models of health care delivery, and continuously evolving government regulations. On top of all this, health providers are subjected to press scrutiny and political second-guessing to a degree that would be unimaginable to most other kinds of business executives.
Without dependable and totally competent advice, the health care provider Without dependable advice, health care providers run great risks no matter what course of action is chosen. runs extraordinary risks no matter what course of action is chosen. We believe that health service providers, insurance carriers, and related businesses can receive more useful help from our Health Care Services Group than from any other consulting company. This may sound like hype, but we think we can back it up — partially in this brochure, and partially in a personal meeting with one of our senior associates. Right now we’d like to tell you a little about where we’re coming from, what we’ve done, and how we’ve done it.
Our unusual success in the health services field has been due primarily to two things: a different model of how consulting should be done, and a special approach to assembling our own health services consulting staff. We pioneered the “outside-in” approach to consulting, which is described in more detail elsewhere in this brochure. We started out as a data-acquisition and analysis firm; we now blend this in a seamless way with management consulting, but we haven’t We haven’t forgotten our science-oriented roots. forgotten our science-oriented roots. What this means for the health executive is that we don’t simply tell you what you already know or could easily find out for yourself; we go to the health consumers, we do real research and analysis, and we find out what the market is saying now and what it’s likely to be doing in the future. (By the way, we’ve developed the most sophisticated procedures in the industry for ensuring that we don’t accidentally bias our market research by asking “loaded” questions.)
Equally important is our approach to building up our large health-care consulting staff, which is quite unlike that of our competitors. Obviously, we require that the professionals we hire have achieved distinction in their fields before ever joining us. But more than that, before hiring decisions are made, we review our staff model so that it always represents a precisely balanced mix of the disciplines which have relevance to our health-service clients’ actual problems. In fact, we’d be happy to send you a list of biographical data on our health-care experts. They specialize in such fields as marketing, industry forecasting, management, insurance and finance, computers and statistical anaysis — the list goes on and on.
We offer so many kinds of services to our health industry clients that it can get confusing just to list them all. They include…
But listing issues and services is less important than understanding the bottom line. All of the work our Health Group does is related to marketing strategy. It can look like a lot of different things — but whether we’re analyzing customer satisfaction, crunching financial statistics in our computers, or working with you to plan a new business venture, our ultimate objective is always the same: to help you extend your market share while increasing profitability and avoiding unpleasant surprises.
Our effectiveness in helping our health care clients is often enhanced by our ability to call on related departments within our firm. For example, our Biostatistics Group specializes in clinical, epidemiological, and laboratory studies for the pharmaceutical and medical devices fields. Our Health Economics Group is relied upon by both domestic and foreign governments for its capabilities in a wide range of areas, such as analyzing the relative value of medical fees, reimbursements, laboratory services and equipment costs; providing litigation support such as expert testimony; and developing medical databases. And, of course, our Information Services department supports all the other groups by utilizing our sophisticated computer/network systems to provide advanced statistical analysis.
If you’re familiar with the industry being discussed, you may realize that some of this material sounds obsolete. This page was written years ago, and is displayed here as a business- writing sample, not as a source of current information.
General Motors Corporation and the United Autoworkers’ Union wanted to assess the quality of care being delivered by over one hundred HMO’s that GM contracts with nationwide. They turned to our Health Care Services Group, and asked it a couple of key questions: are HMO’s really a cost-effective way to buy health care, or do the apparent savings result from the HMO’s skimping on quality? And how can we determine which of our HMO’s are the best?
Answering these deceptively simple questions required us to delve into the heart of some very complex issues. Our study had far-reaching implications for the entire health industry. Our study had far-reaching implications for the entire health industry, and was written up in such publications as Hospitals Magazine and Business and Health. Far from feeling threatened by our research, the HMO’s themselves found it to be extraordinarily valuable for their own analysis and marketing purposes. As for our clients, we gave them much more than just a set of general advice and guidelines — in fact, we often give our clients working tools. In this case, we developed a real-life measurement system which General Motors is currently using to determine which of their HMOs are the best.
In another case, the Pittsburgh Blue Cross system, one of the largest in Pennsylvania, wanted to break with tradition and develop a new kind of primary health care product. They already had both a conventional insurance system and an HMO, but they wanted something that would combine some of the best features of both models. So they brought in our Health Care Services Group.
After extensive market testing, demand forecasting, and financial analysis, we developed an innovative plan for a network of “walk-in” health care centers; they’d be available to the general public on a fee-for-service basis but would also be tied to a new health insurance product. Because of differences in financial structure, this new system would not be classified as an HMO, and thus would not be required to provide some of the services which make HMOs less profitable. In addition, we worked with architects to develop a single model for a free-standing building which could be duplicated identically thoughout the geographic area, resulting in substantial cost savings.
Another true story is interesting for what it says about the accuracy of our trend forecasts. As you probably know, many employers are turning to “utilization review” (UR) services to help them understand why their health premiums are so high and to help improve employee usage patterns and benefit design. Intracorp, a subsidiary of Si gna Corporation and a major provider of UR services, was interested in addressing the PPO market. They turned to us with a question: should they create a new preferred provider organization themselves, building on their reputation as an oversight provider, or should they simply market their UR services to existing PPO’s?
In order to answer the question, we needed to forecast a number of future trends. Will PPO’s continue to grow and gain market share? If so, will it be at the expense of HMO’s? Which kinds of PPO’s will do best in the future?
After extensive research and analysis, our Health Care Services Group made a series of specific predictions. We forecasted that PPO’s would continue to grow; that they would take market share away from HMO’s; that the greatest growth would be in the area of specialty PPO’s (such as eye care, dental care, and so forth); and that employers would view integrated UR as critical to their decision to buy into a PPO. Over the following year, every one of our predictions proved to be true. We therefore recommended that Intra corp develop an integrated PPO/UR product.
Over the following year, every one of our predictions proved to be true. Intra corp is now working on creating just such a blended PPO/UR product.
We could tell you more stories about the remarkable things we’ve done, but we’d rather talk to you about your own problems. Still skeptical? Consider this: in spite of our being one of the fastest-growing consulting groups in the health industry, more than 70% of our business is repeat business. It doesn’t take a statistician to know that this means we have a lot of satisfied customers. Like to learn more? Just call any of the phone numbers at the back of this brochure and ask to speak with one of our senior associates. Our Health Care Services Group would like the opportunity to perform remarkably for you, too.