Friday, October 29, 2010

The company you keep

I remember a lesson my own mother taught me years ago.  As a child, I was lamenting my own lack of progress in improving my competitive basketball skills and her simple but high impact advice was: "If you want to become a better basketball player, make sure you play with people better than you are."  Upping your game happens when, in the case of basketball, you compete against higher calibre players.  It's a compelling lesson about role models and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to meet the CEO and CFO of the VNA of Central Jersey.  The initial conversation with Mary Ann and Kevin pertained to some information system issues they had been grappling with, but then eventually covered a broader range of topics.  I made a mental note that a follow-up and more in depth discussion might be helpful.

Yesterday, in a high rise office building overlooking the sun soaked southern tip of Manhattan, members of our respective teams had an opportunity to have that discussion.  The impromptu cellphone photo above includes the participants.

VNACJ, like the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston, is a 100+ year old organization (actually, they are celebrating their centennial anniversary this coming year) with a mission and quality focus.  Like the VNA of Boston, they experienced financial hardship some ten years ago after the Feds radically restructured the Medicare reimbursement system.  And like the VNA of Boston, they have persisted and adapted and grown.

Our conversation covered a very broad range of topics, including strategy, operations, policy, communications, financial, marketing and sales, and information technology.  As noted previously and frequently in this blog, the home health care industry will be undergoing significant financial and other challenges in the coming few years and learning from colleagues who are tackling the same challenges has proven to be a helpful and, in some cases, eye opening experience.  We're most thankful to our friends in New Jersey for taking the time to meet with us and for hosting such an informative and enjoyable event.  It felt like time well spent.  And it reminded me of my mother's words from years ago...

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