Negotiation tip – Try to find out what the payer is interested in


The best negotiation is a win-win scenario for both of the parties to the negotiation, one where each party walks away from the negotiation table knowing something was won. To bring this off, find out what issues the payer is most interested in from a contracting point of view. Your goal is to deliver these issues to the payer in exchange for what you want to achieve as part of the negotiation process. In other words, try to create a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” situation. This is one way to you find your leverage.

Most payers are primarily concerned about what they pay out for medical costs. So, as an example, think about the cost drivers for your own medical specialty. Put yourself in the payer’s shoes and ask: How can all related costs be reduced for this medical specialty? The following are a few examples:

1. The cardiology group that worked with and taught the emergency room physicians how to properly diagnose real situations of cardiac arrest. This reduced the number of unnecessary treatment costs and admissions.

2. The primary care physician who, in conjunction with medical specialists, developed treatment protocols for specific clinical situations. This reduced the number of unnecessary referrals for specialty care. This, in turn, might reduce related costs for surgical and inpatient care.

3. The specialists above who participated in the development of the clinical protocols. The payer should reward these physicians in exchange for their decreased volume as a result of the protocols but, more important, for the protocols’ ability to reduce many other health care costs.

4. The radiology group that worked with the payer to identify situations where ordered radiological exams were unnecessary.

Of course there are many, more examples of these types of situations. The negotiation strategy here is clear: You will be much more successful if you make the negotiation a two-way street rather than making it a one-way, my way or no way, situation.

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