Recently LBS President and Co-Founder P. Thomas had the opportunity to sit down with Adam Slone, CEO of Slone Partners, and discuss the laboratory billing industry, and his vision for LBS. In the interview, Hirsch explains what led him to launch LBS, and how the company has achieved success through a “customer first” approach to business.
Adam Slone: What did you see in the marketplace that prompted you to launch Laboratory Billing Solutions?
Tom Hirsch: During my almost 20 years at Path Lab, I developed an appreciation for the potential that hospital-based laboratories can make in their community by supplementing their hospital lab focus with an effective outreach program. They all struggled with the challenge of integrating outreach work, and I felt revenue cycle management was an area where they would always be tasked to provide the necessary expertise and attention to support their programs.
Adam Slone: What was your first job as an adult, and what do you feel you learned from it?
Tom Hirsch: My first job out of college was as an assistant to the commissioner of Boston’s Health and Hospital Department. My first boss was a terrific mentor who had taught at MIT’s Slone School of Management. Two things he said have stuck with me my entire career: “Common sense is not that common,” and “It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.” I continue to be amazed how often we lack basic common sense with some of our decision making, and how frequently we over-analyze problems, get lost in the numbers, and don’t draw the salient conclusions or insights.
Adam Slone: What role did your family play – your parents or brothers and sisters – in getting you to where you are today?
Tom Hirsch: My family always stressed the importance of education and sacrificed to provide me the opportunity to go to the best schools that would accept me. That commitment enabled me to go places where I was intellectually challenged. I seriously thought about getting my doctorate in business administration before embarking on a career in health care. The educational experience has given me a strong conceptual framework for looking at business/industry problems and opportunities.
Adam Slone: As a member of the Slone Partners Advisory Board, what’s the most important advice you would offer a recruiter in today’s health care marketplace?
Tom Hirsch: Seek more people from outside the industry who bring a fresh perspective on how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our delivery system. At the same time they must show a willingness to understand the nuances of health care. Otherwise they will fail to have an impact.
Adam Slone: What sort of culture do you try to foster in your business?
Tom Hirsch: I stress the importance of providing substantive value to our customers, first and foremost. We exist for them. I also want our employees to enjoy what they are doing and to be able to speak freely with impunity about what we can do differently to add value for our clients and improve the working experience. Our best ideas come from our people, and we need to maintain an environment where opinions are respected and heard.
Adam Slone: In an interview a year ago you said of the laboratory marketplace, “No one wants to do business when you don’t know what the future holds.” Are the economics any more clear in the fall of 2013?
Tom Hirsch: Yes, I think they are. The problem is that the incoming light in the tunnel we were not sure about is another train. The health care and lab industry will be under tremendous pressure for the next several years. It will take a lot of luck and creative thinking to ensure that one’s business is still around and prospering in light of the profound changes that will occur in how services are provided and paid.
Read the Slone newsletter here: Slone Partners Newsletter: Questions for P. Thomas Hirsch