There could be a plethora factors that make a company achieve zeniths of success. However, the one aspect that most certainly drives a company to those zeniths is the ambition and strife for excellence.
This excellence could encompass—but is not limited to—delivering unparalleled service to customers, innovating products that add value to the users, or prioritizing on saving the environment.
With excellence being at the crux of their mission, the companies featured in this edition titled, 10 Most Trusted Healthcare Consulting Companies 2021, exhibit true potential in sparking a paradigm shift in the ways that healthcare consulting impacts associated organizations.
One prominent name among such companies is BKD CPAs & Advisors, a top-tier CPA and advisory firm dedicated to helping people and businesses realize their goals.
With 40 offices across the U.S., BKD ranks as one of Modern Healthcare’s Largest Management Consulting Firms, a Glassdoor’s Employees Choice Award for Best Places to Work and has appeared on INSIDE Public Accounting’s (IPA) Best of the Best Firms list for 10 consecutive years, earning the IPA Pyramid Award.
BKD’s healthcare expertise significantly exceeds standard accounting and compliance services to include performance improvement, regulatory reimbursement consulting, CARES Act interpretation and analysis, and more.
The firm works with approximately 4,000 healthcare providers nationwide, comprising hospitals, health systems, long-term care organizations, community health centers, life science organizations, IDD and behavioral health organizations, and physician groups.
According to the number of healthcare advisors’ data from the Modern Healthcare Largest Management Consulting Firms Survey published in 2021, BKD has one of the largest, specialized Health Care Performance Advisory Services (HCPAS), audit, and tax practices comprising more than 510 trusted advisors.
This survey has also placed BKD as the number ten largest healthcare management consulting firm in the U.S. Thus, the firm’s advisors understand the complexities that board members, CEOs and CFOs endure, helping providers make strategic financial, clinical, operational, and performance decisions.
BKD has always proved its expertise at managing change, and one reason is its strong values. The firm’s five PRIDE values (Passion, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Excellence) enable it to fulfill its mission.
“These are the values we look for in the people we hire, our partners, and how we serve our clients. These are the values that have stood the test of time for nearly 100 years and will stand for the next 100,” says Danielle Solomon, the Healthcare National Industry Partner at BKD.
“Hands down, our commitment to Unmatched Client Service® is what makes BKD stand out. We aim to deliver Unmatched Client Service every time. Our commitment to client service is rooted in our PRIDE values, which guide the actions of our partners and professionals as they deliver solutions for success to our clients’ business and financial needs,” adds Danielle.
All BKD trusted advisors strive ceaselessly to live the PRIDE values, and it is this deep-rooted culture that sets BKD apart. “PRIDE is more than words on paper—it lives vibrantly both inside and outside our firm. For example, at BKD we begin internal meetings discussing our PRIDE values and our annual performance appraisals measure how we are living our PRIDE values. Lastly, we recognize and celebrate annually the PRIDE award by bestowing it upon a partner and team member for them living the PRIDE values. Nominations are from the persons peers, and the PRIDE award is the highest honor a BKD partner and professional team member can receive at BKD,” says the BKD team.
BKD’s healthcare consulting practice encompasses one of the industry’s largest and longest-tenured teams of regulatory compliance and reimbursement services and performance improvement services.
The firm’s regulatory consulting team traces its roots back to the inception of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. For more than 55 years, BKD’s consultants have been assisting healthcare providers nationwide with regulatory filings and identifying unique reimbursement opportunities.
BKD consistently focuses on creating solutions to help clients receive the reimbursement for which they are entitled. The firm is excited to be currently working on a joint venture in the development of a specialized technology solution for preparing, documenting, analyzing, and submitting annual statements of reimbursable cost.
The firm’s dedicated regulatory and reimbursement practice comprises numerous professionals with deep expertise in a myriad of the areas that impact providers, such as Medicare cost report preparation, Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding, uncompensated care calculations, Medicare bad debt reimbursement, Transfer Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRG) identification, Upper Payment Limit (UPL) Supplemental Programs, Indirect Medical Education (IME) funding, 340B drug discount strategies, and the Medicare Wage Index. Many of these professionals spend the majority of their time on regulatory and reimbursement issues – this is their passion.
During times of accelerating change to cost and revenue trends, it is important that organizations are supported in these critical areas by professionals who serve with passion.
BKD’s HCPAS practice is made up of former hospital executives, clinicians, data scientists, and CPAs; and thus, it has an intimate understanding of the revenue-generating and cost-saving challenges the healthcare industry faces so it can outline areas and actions that can lead to cost control and revenue enhancement.
The firm’s trusted advisors employ proprietary tools for data analytics to help healthcare providers with areas such as denials, risk-based contracts, margin improvement, provider-based strategies, labor management, supply chain and documentation.
Danielle Solomon was drawn to the healthcare industry immediately out of college. She graduated with an accounting degree from the University of Illinois, passed the CPA exam and accepted a job at a Big 4 accounting firm, yet she wondered how her efforts could contribute to society. She was drawn to healthcare and helping nonprofit health systems that support the most vulnerable, and this is where she found her purpose and has focused her time and talents for the past 25 years.
The intimate experience and knowledge Danielle gained from serving within a hospital setting, led her to BKD, where she would have the opportunity to help serve more hospitals and health systems across the United States. She was drawn to BKD because healthcare was the firm’s largest industry, but when she learned of the true depth and breadth of the healthcare team’s expertise, she thought they may be the industry’s best-kept secret and that they could brag on themselves more.
She was a direct-admit partner into BKD and secured one of the practice’s largest healthcare clients. Two years into the role, Danielle serves as BKD’s national industry partner for the firmwide healthcare practice where she helps lead her team with goals of sustainable growth and expansion, along with helping our great clients succeed.
On her healthcare journey, she has worked with hospitals to develop healthcare reform strategies, performance improvement solutions, and data-centric risk-based analysis, and coordinate related initiatives with value-based care, telehealth, and the opioid crisis. She has been involved in multimillion-dollar exempt bond offerings and coordinated large integrated health system audits.
Danielle says she works with a great team at BKD and has excellent clients that challenge her every day to be the best and help make them the best. She notes that she learns just as much from her clients and her team as they do from her, and they all know her that her commitment to their success is certainly unwavering.
We asked the team at BKD about the challenges they faced during the initial phase of the pandemic, to which they said, “the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly strained healthcare delivery and we at BKD cannot be more appreciative of the sacrifice and efforts demonstrated by our nation’s frontline healthcare workforce.”
“We’ve also seen first-hand how our clients are struggling to balance the care needs for COVID-19 patients with resuming normal hospital care while recognizing what we all have learned the past year and transforming to new delivery care models. Talent recruitment as well as exhaustion and trauma have strained clinical staff, and now they are all working through vaccine distribution.”
“Additionally, the industry has been talking about social determinants of health, but the pandemic definitely revealed existing disparities in access to care and health outcomes. BKD Trusted Advisors™ have risen to the occasion and put our creativity, ingenuity, and innovation to the test. We’ve responded quickly and proactively by leveraging our financial, operational, and clinical expertise to help support providers navigating this turbulent time. We’ve been passionate about channeling our thought leadership into educational articles, alerts, webinars, and videos to deliver the guidance leaders need.”
Opinions that Matter
We asked Danielle for her opinion on the future of healthcare consulting services sector post the pandemic and how she is strategizing BKD’s operations for that future, to which she said, “Concurrent with helping healthcare providers during the pandemic, BKD Trusted Advisors are also looking for solutions and tools to address the challenges mentioned above surrounding access to care workforce challenges and cutting costs. A few more examples are as follows:
Exhaustively Seeking Cost-Saving and Investing Opportunities and Solutions
As workforce challenges continue to ramp up, we are seeing healthcare providers reevaluate non-labor areas of costs as well as consider strategic investments needed for the future. In the short-term, savings can offset increasing labor management costs and in the long-term investments can solve.
Instituting a holistic approach to financial health
Consultants are frequently recruited to assist organizations in “moving the needle” and accomplishing those difficult change management tasks—and we do not see this changing. We have seen an uptick in organizations adopting a holistic approach to margin improvement. There seems to be a stronger sense of urgency to get on a path to financial health and a willingness to make difficult decisions to achieve these goals.
Quickly adapting to change and monitoring quality and productivity in a remote environment.
We work in an environment where things can change quickly, and we need to be prepared to act rapidly while maintaining quality and productivity. It has become increasingly important to have standardized workflows for remote environments and consistent dashboards and monitoring tools.
Re-engineering current care delivery models
The emergence of non-traditional providers will bring hospital executives back to the drawing board to re-engineer current care delivery models. The social aspect of healthcare is merging with pop culture through numerous patient-centric avenues and eroding market share. It will be imperative to promote brand loyalty, enhance patient engagement strategies, and make new connections beyond the office visit.”
Bequeathing the Keys to Excellence
In her advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare consulting services sector, Danielle says, “We’ve learned that not-for-profit healthcare margins have dropped and were averaging less than 1 percent. And it’s these same organizations that are eager to identify opportunities for cost reduction, increased yield, and reduction of revenue leakage. The ability to adapt to system technology and drive accurate reporting assists in identifying opportunities that add dollars to the bottom line.
Data plus business intelligence and operational tenacity will improve the odds of success in a changing and competitive marketplace.
Manage risks—financially and clinically.
Healthcare leaders are embracing the mechanics payers use in terms of managing risk financially and clinically. Hospitals are taking on more risk from payers (some willingly and others unwillingly) as evidenced by growth in managed care, value-based care arrangements, direct contracting, and provider-owned health plans. Providers that successfully learn how to deliver care at financial risk will be positioned to meet margin goals, and consultants who help them get there will be valued.”
Towards Unparalleled Progress
BKD’s trusted advisors have consistently been industry leaders when it comes to providing high quality services to clients, and the firm will continue that tradition of excellence by expanding its expertise in areas such as supply chain consulting, labor productivity, and operational transformation.
In addition, BKD envisions capitalizing on its significant investments in advanced technology to deliver to its clients, unique products and tools that will supplement its advisory services and help clients solve their most complex problems.
BKD has already launched several tools that started in its BKD EDGE innovation lab, such as BKDforesight™ and BKDpulse™. Many additional transformational tools and products are under development by both, the firm’s internal innovation team and as part of strategic joint ventures. Regardless of how its service offerings change in 2021 and beyond, BKD’s central focus will be on providing Unmatched Client Service on a daily basis.