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Healthy returns Featured

6:53am EDT December 27, 2005
With more than 20 years of IT experience — mostly at Fortune 500 companies — James Giordano is no stranger to the information technology industry.

And for the past seven years, he has used that expertise to grow CareTech Solutions, a leader in health care IT and health information management solutions, to more than $100 million in revenue.

When Giordano joined CareTech Solutions in 1999, the company had about 20 employees and operated regionally level. Today, its 700 employees serve health care organizations across the nation.

Giordano believes the key to his success is doing whatever it takes to satisfy customers, because if your customers are completely satisfied, they will never leave your company.

“It’s the focus on the customer and the focus on making a better health care system,” says Giordano.

Smart Business spoke with Giordano about how he grew CareTech Solutions and the strategies he uses to manage more than 700 employees.

How did you double revenue between 1999 and 2002?
What we were able to do was use health care IT as a differentiator for updating health care systems. Our value proposition was that we would help them attract physicians and have a better patient experience, and also assist with their administration relative to IT and business systems.

We were successful. We were recognized by our clients and by the hospitals that we were doing business with. They have been a great source of advertising for us. We have been able to use our IT offerings and our health information management offerings as a competitive advantage for them.

They’ve been able to use that in a way to make the hospital a better place for both physicians and patients.

What were some of the specific issues you faced during that time and how did you deal with them?
It’s a difficult marketplace out there. We faced all of the challenges of rapid growth, including increasing the size of our building and infrastructure.

We decided early on to size all of our systems to be able to triple the size of the company in two years. Once we overcame that challenge and prepared the company to accommodate that kind of growth, things became a lot easier.

You don’t have this kind of growth without some problems. The assimilation of staff members into our organization was a bit of a challenge; however, we successfully overcame that. As we got a little bit larger and technology became more complex, we were able to offer more, which caused a faster growth rate, which caused us to have to assimilate even more people.

How did you maintain your corporate culture as you added new employees?
The first thing we do is have a full day of orientation to talk about our vision and our values. Ultimately, I think any company’s values are how they act and how they treat their people.

We have a full day of training. We started with the management of the organization and we made sure that they understood what CareTech was all about and how customer service is our focus.

We [instructed] all the new employees coming in to do whatever it takes to serve the customer. And that has become our CareTech motto — ‘We do whatever it takes.’ And then we provided the tools and the training, so that even at the individual performance level, they can effectively do that.

We have a policy here called the open door. If (employees) see something where the customer is not being satisfied, then they are authorized to go to any level of the organization to get that problem solved —including my office.

How do you manage and guide more than 700 employees?
It all centers around communication. We make sure that the senior leaders of the organization get out there and talk to them, and we really do try to focus them on customer service. In today’s economy, we all know the bar on customer service gets continually raised.

Most people (know someone) who has been downsized out of an organization. My challenge to our folks is, let’s not let that ever happen to us. Let’s make sure our customers are so happy, so satisfied with our service and that we are bringing value to the health care organization that they don’t even think of looking anywhere else.

To put our money where our mouth is, we measured that. We measure and survey our customers to ensure that we are delivering on our promise of customer service. Again, it goes back to doing whatever it takes to make sure our customers are satisfied.

How do you do that?
Early on, we were having a lot of successes with our customers, and it was a real challenge to be able to communicate effectively back to our clients exactly what we were doing for them. Many times, we found that we were doing these things and they were very ho-hum to the staff, but they were really extraordinary achievements for the health care organization.

It was a challenge to capture those ideas and go back to the organization and make sure that they were using that as a marketing tool to attract more patients and to attract the kind of caliber of physicians that they were looking to find.

The way we have overcome those challenges and the way we have been able to keep the organization together is the belief that we are in the services business. The mindset that we try to impart to everyone is we are CareTech.

There is not a product you can point to. There is nothing tangible you can point to. At CareTech, we are the sum total of everything we say and do at the end of every given day.

We have client executives at the site that are the chief of information officers for the health care systems. We started to hold monthly meetings where they would point out from a business perspective the successes that they were having with the clients.

We were able to share this across the different health care organizations. We found that not only did the communication become effective, but we were able to leverage some really good ideas across different health care systems.

How do you get employees to buy into your vision of customer service?
I talk to them personally. I talk to every new person that comes into the company. It starts with me.

When they are introduced to the firm, I like to spend some time with them and share our vision with them. I am a big believer that a corporation’s values are how it acts. I ensure that our top level leaders buy in and [that we] continually refocus and educate ourselves on what our customers’ wants and needs are.

We work very hard to satisfy them.

HOW TO REACH: CareTech Solutions, (248) 233-3000 or www.caretechsolutions.com