Suppliers want to improve receivables performance, while providers need to manage payment flow and access all available discounts and rebates. Is there a way for both sides to win?
In life, and in business, enduring relationships require a commitment to transparency and trust.
When it comes to buyers and sellers, the bond can be delicate, especially in matters of cash and working capital performance—or payment. In fact, there is no bigger priority for healthcare suppliers over the next year than improving receivables performance, according to a recent survey of 100 financial leaders at major healthcare suppliers by Institutional Investor Custom Research Lab. It is also the hardest area to influence.
“The check is in the mail.”
When it’s time to be paid, few refrains produce more unease than this one. For healthcare suppliers working to improve receivables performance, ambiguity in payment processing is problematic. As competition intensifies and interest rates rise, the pressure on suppliers to create more predictability around payment processes is climbing sharply, according to a recent study by Institutional Investor Custom Research Lab.
When it comes to payment options, the more choices the better right? Healthcare suppliers want to get paid fast, and healthcare providers want to take advantage of early pay discounts and rebates, and avoid late fees. So why not have a variety of payment methods in place: check, wire, credit card, Automated Clearing House (ACH), etc.?
But choice can add costs.
In healthcare we typically operate in silos, with the right hand blind to what the left hand is doing. Take for instance finance in both provider and supplier organizations. While accounting and accounts payable/collections might communicate regularly with treasury and engage in all-team meetings, their structures, business processes and policies are often disjointed. Without an integrated approach throughout its financial functions, an organization cannot fully assess its activities and identify opportunities for cost savings.
Whether you are a healthcare provider or supplier, your supply chain and finance teams put a great deal of time and effort into the negotiation, enactment, management and governance of contracts, not only with your customers and vendors but across your own organizations.
But how effective are you at both getting what you are promised and also delivering what you promised? How balanced are the puts and takes — in other words, is there enough governance in the process and is control in the right place(s) to facilitate the most balanced and mutually beneficial actions in support of agreed-upon terms?
As a healthcare supply chain professional, when was the last time you strategically collaborated with your colleagues in accounts receivable (AR) or accounts payable (AP)? Think back to your last customer or vendor contract planning session - did you carefully consider fulfillment obligations around terms, such as payments – and how this would impact the financial health of your organization?
You don’t wake up one morning and just say, “I’m going to run a marathon today”. No, you have a plan to get ready. The winners of GHX Best 50 all started somewhere and developed a plan for getting where they wanted to be – on the stage receiving their award!
Most healthcare industry challenges are not one sided. The challenges are felt by both providers and suppliers, paper invoicing being a good example. There are the tangible costs in postage, ink, time to receive mail, to open mail, remove exceptions and route for approval. Then there is the invoice mystery- did the customer receive the invoice and is it ready for payment?
Since GHX was founded 16 years ago, we have always looked for ways to leverage provider and supplier connectivity and collaboration to take waste out of the healthcare supply chain. I’m pleased/happy to announce GHX’s acquisition of Hap-X, a healthcare focused payment network that shares that sensibility. Like GHX, Hap-X serves both providers and suppliers. They use the Hap-X platform to take costs out of the payment process and provide better visibility around payment reconciliation, while still allowing customers to decide with their trading partners what is the best payment mode based on specific business transactions. I like to think of it as “Automation with choice.” That’s also a concept that GHX has strived to provide since our founding in 2000.