Stephen Owen, Founder and CFO
The world is going through a time that demands every healthcare organization—from small clinics to large hospitals—to function in its full capability. Whether it is an emergency, a planned procedure, or regular preventive care, when a patient enters the doors of a hospital/ clinic, they need to be assured of proper care delivery. But for the organizations, providing care is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more underneath the surface that works in synergy to facilitate it. From state-of-the-art diagnostic machines and sanitization devices to surgical instruments that support the doctor's work, the healthcare supply chain should always be streamlined to provide what is necessary at the right time. Healthcare organizations rely on an incredibly complex network of suppliers to source these machines and ensure that they're well-prepared for any scenario. Maintaining healthy and reliable relationships with suppliers is critical to facilitating this, making payment and account management a vital function within healthcare organizations.
However, even today, many organizations rely on outdated, manual processes, and physical paperwork to carry out standard healthcare accounts payable (AP) processes. While other industries have become paperless, the AP process in healthcare continues to be plagued by clunky fax machines and old-school phone calls. As such, healthcare organizations cannot be flexible in their AP processes and get a holistic view of their transactions with the suppliers. In this age of big data and automation-based solutions, healthcare organizations/clinics need to modernize and leverage advanced technologies to optimize their AP processes.
To achieve the much-needed flexibility, organizations require a solution that connects the healthcare provider, vendors, suppliers, and other partners, while simultaneously strengthening the relationships between them. SentinelC3 is a cost management software specialist that provides this crucial link between healthcare chains and medical equipment suppliers.
For the last 16 years, SentinelC3's software has helped alleviate several pain-points for healthcare providers that work with a sophisticated and diverse supplier base. The company empowers executives, accounts payable staff, and material managers to improve financial flexibility, visibility, workflows, security, and savings around supplier spending. This helps companies to maneuver the complex cost management landscape swiftly. In the words of Stephen Owen, the Founder and CFO of SentinelC3, "We cut costs utilizing performance oversight to help long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities (LTACH/ SNFs) reach their strategic goals and objectives in supplier spending and capital expenditures."
Advanced and Fast - a "do-it-all" Platform
With vast experience in the medical equipment rental space, SentinelC3 has created its healthcare AP solution, titled Connect. Targeted toward healthcare organizations— ranging from acute care chains to large hospitals—Connect harnesses the power of modern technology in mobile web applications to bridge the gap between the facility's accounts payable (AP) departments with the accounts receivable (AR) departments of the distributors. The solution actively guides users representing hospitals/distributors, through interactions involving ordering, receiving, or paying for a product from the distributor.
SentinelC3's software is designed to bypass outdated processes and tasks, and provide the relevant ordering and payment information. "We designed Connect to automate the majority of the accounts payable processes—actions that do not require human interaction—to save valuable time for our users," says Owen.
Compared to other AP software, Connect provides an interactive user experience and delivers one of the best collections of data features that record every interaction and change. These features can then be utilized for drawing analysis and comparing contract prices.
The software has guided workflows to navigate the customer through different functions. Through these workflows, users can interact with the autonomous systems across various departments (invoice data capture, coding, matching, and approval) within a healthcare organization and reroute the focus wasted on manual processes. Clients can quickly and easily set up self-service reporting to gain valuable insights into their AP workflows. "Our goal with Connect is to remove the barriers to productivity, and take the guesswork out of time management, through guided workflows," says Zac Robins, the User Experience Engineer at SentinelC3.
We are led by two guiding principles— integrity and transparency
In one instance, one of SentinelC3's partner hospitals was facing a significant challenge in resolving billing conflicts with distributors across 500 branches. Noticing discrepancies in their asset management billing, the client hired SentinelC3 to gain control of its medical equipment rentals. Leveraging its single monthly summary invoice feature, SentinelC3 created a centralized payable system for the client to keep track of all their communication and resolve billing issues. Over the years, the client has recorded accurate billings and annual savings with this robust solution. SentinelC3 also helped the client with KPIs to control their metrics and make better decisions.
Putting Compliance at the Top of the Checklist
In the wake of COVID 19, where employees cannot physically come-in to work, security challenges associated with communication between remote devices have become a key concern. Consider a recent notice issued from the Department of Health and Human Service's Office for Civil Rights, which temporarily suspended penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA rules surrounding telehealth communications:
"Covered health care providers may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Zoom, or Skype, to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency."
The notice emphasizes the importance of HIPAA compliance for the new norm. In the case of healthcare AP, SentinelC3's Connect helps users ensure compliance with HIPAA and other regulatory agencies while empowering them to complete their digital transformation journey. The SentinelC3 solution offers better compliance with regulatory requirements (SOX, FASB). It offers numerous state-of-the-art advantages, including improved visibility into agreements with contracted and off-contract vendors, the ability to automatically track user activity histories with date and time details, greater control over information flow and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data. Having the appropriate protections in place, such as end-to-end encryption for each contract and vendor, guarantees data security while being transmitted and retained. Connect embodies the industry's best practices for storing digital data, with modern data encryption solutions that mitigate the security risk for billing data—whether at rest or moving in a network. It uses 256-bit encryption, and optionally, a zero-knowledge data transfer protocol so that customers can share data without SentinelC3, or anyone else, having the ability to view that information. The software is made with separately testable and easily improvable components that are purpose-built for healthcare AP.
Additionally, Connect enables businesses to run smoothly and securely despite the integrations with external software. It is designed in a progressive web app that allows users to accomplish assignments remotely, enabling better adherence to quarantines and personal safety during the pandemic. The company proves its penchant for client support by readily creating custom reports from its database compatible with other applications. Connect allows AP staff to manually modify reports extracted from the software and import them into other applications. As Jeff Thomas, CTO of SentinelC3, puts it, "We made Connect act as a bridge to unify the diverse software solutions available today."
A Versatile Solution for all things Healthcare AP
Using Connect, clients can record every aspect of their billing activity.
It enables them to create orders and follow through the product lifecycle to their invoice. Connect collects and summarizes all the invoice amounts from distributor branches, and offers clients the ability to manage their product catalog with ease. The smart software also has real-time messaging capabilities that enable users to communicate with distributor branch offices and respond to their needs. Connect tracks patient orders and information, and documents them for internal audits. It allows users to assemble reports from the raw underlying data, rather than working with pre-aggregated data. "For customizations, we follow a configuration approach where separate, distinct modules are assembled to serve many different configurations," says Owen. SentinelC3's custom modules can be leveraged to provide specific features not already offered in the software and may be enabled in the user interface via the new top menu navigation, visible to all clients.
“ We cut costs utilizing performance oversight to help long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities (LTACH/SNFs) reach their strategic goals and objectives in supplier spending and capital expenditures”
At the start of a client engagement, SentinelC3 conducts a discovery phase to locate clients' existing AP solutions and integrate them into the solution through the Connect API. Following this, the client's distributor catalogs are loaded, giving Connect access to business contracts, and a separate, dedicated section with all of their agreements. After all the information is imported to Connect, users can start ordering products and manage the order lifecycle. Through automation, the resulting invoices are seamlessly passed to the Connect accounting module, which guides the accounts payable team through the billing lifecycle for those products. SentinelC3’s Connect allows clients to use self-service portals to make corrections or changes throughout each step of the process. The software also stores order details and equipment purchase invoices for ten years to comply with tax audits.
In an effort to further help clients streamline the procurement process, SentinelC3 has added an intuitive search function as a part of Connect, modeled after online shopping sites. Filters and prices automatically populate depending on what is available to order. In the order confirmation step, users enter pertinent information, such as the product's intended patient and special requirements, before submission. Once the distributor accepts the order, Connect will treat the order like a guided group project and use its lifecycle indicator to track each product’s stage within the order visually. Connect uses color codes within that lifecycle indicator to indicate whether the progress of an order is awaiting input from a user to move ahead, making it easier for people to prioritize the work tasks and visualize the entire process.
Continued Innovation for Accelerated Improvement
The features, tools, and capabilities— the true value of Connect—stems from the innovative minds at SentinelC3 who have diverse technical backgrounds and an understanding of healthcare. "Talent is the most important thing that you can invest in as a software company. You're literally creating something from nothing, and ideas come alive. The quality of those ideas determines the quality of the product received by the end user," adds Owen. For SentinelC3, each employee is a leader, and they create an atmosphere of encouraging new ideas and implementing those that make it through a spirited vetting process. Every member of the team actively contributes and feels ownership and pride in the product. This passion ultimately reflects in the application produced. The talented individuals carefully plan every part, and the process is centered on a mission to continually improve the user experience.
Standing at the crucial juncture of software and healthcare, SentinelC3 plans to continue supporting clients' plug-in solutions to complete their digital transformation journey. As Owen concludes, "We are led by two guiding principles—integrity and transparency. They define how we deal with our employees and clients and how we design our software. We believe in providing the information in its purest form so that each person can make an informed decision."