Values drive growth for Healthcare Management Solutions

Healthcare Management Solutions was started when its two founders, nurses with high aspirations, decided to act on their desire to do more. Twelve years later, they have one of the fastest growing companies in the market, driven by a core set of values.

Before Healthcare Management Solutions was founded in 2002, principals Leah Heimbach and Patti Hodges were nurses who wanted to do more.

It wasn’t until 2001 that Hodges decided to go out on her own and launch her own business, with Heimbach following her a year later. “Leah and I decided that if we were going to work really hard for someone, why shouldn’t we work really hard for ourselves?” Hodges said.

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Twelve years and 178 additional employees later, the company is doing well for itself, with momentum picking up enough to land spot No. 48 on Washington Technology’s 2014 Fast 50 list with $26.2 million in revenue in 2013 and a compound annual growth rate of 38.25 percent.

Healthcare Management Solutions provides a range of health care IT services including custom software development, data management, database services and quality and compliance services.. Among the company’s customers are the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, NIH, the Veterans Affairs Department and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. The company holds GSA MOBIS, GSA IT Schedule 70, and GSA FABS along with a few others.

“Part of the reason Patti and I were interested in starting our own company is because we had worked in and around health care all of our adult lives, and in some settings, we worked in environments or cultures where we personally didn’t feel very appreciated,” Heimbach said.

“We always wanted to create an environment where people enjoyed coming to work, where they felt appreciated, and our biggest motivator was trying to do what we could to impact health care in a positive way,” she added.

As such, there is great emphasis on culture and values at Healthcare Management Solutions. The company has a set of 10 values, things like “act with integrity and honesty,” “lead by example,” and “listen without interrupting.”

To remind their employees of these values, the two principals print their core values on an index card, and these cards are then taped to peoples’ computers and act as a constant reminder of how employees are expected to behave and interact with one another, Heimbach said.

While there have been those who have not been able to follow these values, there have been many more who have, Heimbach said, and those people are rewarded with kudos twice a month in their newsletter.

But that’s just within the company. Externally, the company lives out its values through the work it does with its customers.

“The contract that we probably are most proud of is one that has been completed, but it was one in which we were able to actually work with health care providers and with patients,” Leah said. Healthcare Management Solutions did diabetes training and education, helping a number of agencies, health care providers and patients learn how to manage the disease.

The program was especially meant for diabetes patients, with the company’s goal being to help them manage their own disease, ask the right questions and know how to take care of themselves, Heimbach said.

“The state that this project was conducted in was in Mississippi, in a very rural, impoverished area, and we were faced with the challenge of not only recruiting the practices to participate, but also recruiting the patients,” Hodges added.

It was challenging for the company to meet with people who did not know them, convince these people that you could help, and getting them to buy into your goal. “At the end of the program, it was a true measure of success because their clinical measures improved, we had evidence of it, and they learned how to prepare their food, how to make good choices with their food, and it was one of the most fulfilling projects that we’ve ever been involved in,” Hodges said.

Going forward, the company will be challenged as it goes up against some of the bigger companies in the health care market. Healthcare Management Solutions just recently graduated from the 8(a) program, but has been successful since doing so, winning blanket purchase agreements and IDIQs, Heimbach said.

On the flip side, the company will be working with these bigger companies to foster partnerships and good relationships that will come in handy in the future.

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