Pathologists  and clinical laboratory managers may be overlooking ways that sales teams can add strategic value

As of January 1, 2018, the value of a top-performing clinical laboratory sales professional will increase because, on that date, labs will see a reduction in Medicare Part B clinical laboratory test prices as mandated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014.

As these Medicare price cuts become effective, clinical laboratories and hospital lab outreach programs across the United States will need their lab sales representatives to bring in new client accounts that can generate additional revenue to offset the decrease in Medicare lab test reimbursements.

It was to recognize these laboratory sales professionals that The Dark Report organized the National Lab Sales Excellence Award in 2016. These new national sales awards were unveiled at the Executive War College (EWC) in New Orleans on April 26-27, 2016, and will return again at the 2017 EWC May 2-3.

As noted in earlier Dark Daily e-briefings, our reporting on the clinical laboratory industry’s top sales producers serves two worthy goals:

• First, it brings recognition to the accomplishments of these lab sales professionals;

• Second, it helps medical laboratory administrators and pathologists at other labs and hospital outreach programs learn more about what it takes to use lab sales reps to win new clients.

What follows is the fourth profile of a winner of the 2016 National Lab Sale Excellence Awards. This is the third profile in Dark Daily’s coverage about these important events.

National Lab Sales Excellence Award Winner 2016
Category: Hospital Lab Sales Outreach

Mark Klisman, Diagnostic Services Representative,
St. Joseph Mercy Health, Livonia, Michigan

2016 National Lab Sales Award winner, Mark Klisman, brings a special combination of med tech bench experience and outreach expertise to his work at St. Mary Mercy Livonia (SMML) in suburban Detroit. SMML, which is part of the St. Joseph Mercy Health System, is a full service 304-bed acute care hospital that provides comprehensive care, including a 24-hour emergency department, general medicine, inpatient and outpatient surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, intensive care unit, cancer, cardiology, geriatrics, and birthing and women’s services. Klisman has worked as a Diagnostic Services Sales and Marketing Representative at SMML since 2000.

“I grew up here in Detroit,” Klisman told Dark Daily in a recent interview. “I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in biology, then earned my MSA from Central Michigan University.

After working for fifteen years as a medical technologist, in 2000, Klisman joined SMML’s budding outreach program, where he sold laboratory services and managed all areas of its outreach business line. Outreach was new for many hospitals at that time. “Before then, there had not been any serious attempt at SMML to talk to affiliated physicians,” stated Klisman.

“Mark doubled [outreach] revenue in his first year,” wrote Anne Venner, Administrative Director, Clinical Laboratories, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, in her essay nominating Klisman for the sales excellence award. In 2015, the lab outreach program billed $15 million. For his part, in 2015, Klisman met his quota and produced $1.7 million in new revenue for the outreach program.

Going the Extra Mile to Build Strong Relationships

Outreach programs that target office-based physicians can produce impressive increases in revenue and brand awareness. “[They] also can work as a bridge to strengthen the relationship between the hospital and its physician community,” stated Robert R. Saunders, Business Development Manager, Mayo Medical Laboratories, in an article published on the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) website. “[E]stablishing strong partnerships with physicians has never been more important.”

Mark Klisman (above right), a Diagnostic Services Sales and Marketing Representative at St. Mary Mercy Livonia (SMML) near Detroit, spent 15 years as a med tech and med tech supervisor before moving into SMML’s nascent hospital outreach program in 2000. Since then, the SMML outreach program has seen steady growth. In 2015, Klisman was responsible for increasing revenues more than $1.7 million over the preceding year and adding 15 new client accounts. Holding an MSA degree from Central Michigan University, Klisman has contributed valuable assistance to SMML in the areas of aligning sales practices across the SMML system and in helping clients transition to EMR/EHRs and ICD-10 coding. To his right is Robert Michel, Founder of the Executive War College, and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and The Dark Report.  (Photo copyright: The Dark Intelligence Group.)

Mark Klisman (above right), a Diagnostic Services Sales and Marketing Representative at St. Mary Mercy Livonia (SMML) near Detroit, spent 15 years as a med tech and med tech supervisor before moving into SMML’s nascent hospital outreach program in 2000. Since then, the SMML outreach program has seen steady growth. In 2015, Klisman was responsible for increasing revenues more than $1.7 million over the preceding year and adding 15 new client accounts. Holding an MSA degree from Central Michigan University, Klisman has contributed valuable assistance to SMML in the areas of aligning sales practices across the SMML system and in helping clients transition to EMR/EHRs and ICD-10 coding. To his right is Robert Michel, Founder of the Executive War College, and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and The Dark Report.  (Photo copyright: The Dark Intelligence Group.)

“Laboratory outreach is a relationship business,” observed Klisman. “I consider trust relationships to be the cornerstone of developing new clients. It requires showing that you care and are willing to go the extra mile.”

Klisman shared a story as an example of how he has built such relationships with physicians and other clients over the years. “A physician I knew from a previous job decided to open his own practice,” he recounted. “His start day was on Monday, and he was scrambling to fix up the new office. On Saturday, I bought some bagels and brought my son and a few of his friends over and helped him get set up. He ended up switching his lab provider and has been a very loyal customer ever since.”

Klisman Helps Ease Transitions to EHRs and ICD-10 Coding

Award winner Klisman has a reputation for helping to ease transition pains both within his laboratory, as well as for clients. In 2015, the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) clinical laboratories combined the system’s east and west regions. “Mark was instrumental in harmonizing regional sales practices across the system,” wrote Venner.

Klisman has also given valuable support to physician clients in transitioning to electronic health record (EHR) systems. “We’re asked to interface with a whole range of clients,” stated Ted Theodoroff, Regional Director, Laboratory Sales and Outreach Services, at SJMHS. “Thirty years ago, the laboratory sales team had concerns like turn-around times, pickup, and delivery. Now, if you can’t interface with the clinician’s EMR, and do it quickly, you cannot compete in this industry.”

“Early on, Mark saw the need for electronic conductivity with physician offices,” wrote Venner. “He spearheaded the selection and customization of Lifepoint Informatics as a laboratory order and result system. He has since worked to interface provider EMR/EHRs, utilizing middleware to help meet meaningful use requirements.

“At first, our IT system wasn’t geared toward lab outreach,” observed Klisman. “I had to go outside the hospital platform system. Initially, there was a lot of pushback from our IT. They wanted the docs to use a hospital system, but there was no hospital system in place. Now, the hospital has outsourced to middleware that is interchangeable for lab outreach.”

Klisman also received praise for his dedication to patients during the conversion to ICD-10 coding. “Mark worked to educate providers and continues to follow-up to ensure that patients are not receiving unnecessary bills,” wrote Venner. The sales team put together literature and a newsletter and offered training sessions for physicians and office-staff. Additionally, Klisman has been exploring social media strategies that clinical laboratories can use to maintain relationships with clients and to drive new business.

Labs May Be Underutilizing the Market Intel Value of Lab Sales Reps

During the interview with Dark Daily, Klisman made an interesting observation about what is perhaps an untapped tactical resource for clinical laboratories and health systems—feedback loops with physicians. “We’re touching clients daily through our sales reps, couriers, and lab office personnel,” he stated. “No other department has such routine contact. That makes us potential eyes and ears for the whole health system and can have value for growing business.”

To illustrated this benefit, Klisman noted an instance where a health system experienced difficulties accessing information the lab sales team had all along. “Most health systems would be wise to meet regularly with lab sales about our relationships with physicians,” Klisman suggested.

The accomplishments of productive lab sales professionals like Mark Klisman provide solid evidence that hospitals and health systems with laboratory outreach programs can be more successful when they hire and support productive sales representatives. The second annual National Laboratory Sales Excellence Awards will be announced at the upcoming Executive War College in New Orleans on May 2-3, 2017. Dark Daily and The Dark Report are accepting nominations for these awards.

To learn more and access the nomination form, visit this link  (or copy and paste this URL in your browser: http://www.executivewarcollege.com/first-annual-lab-sales-excellence-award-contest/).

—Pamela Scherer McLeod

Related Information:

The Strategic Value of Laboratory Outreach

Clinical Pathology Laboratory Outreach Programs Are Revenue Bright Spot for Nation’s Health Systems and Hospitals

Tapping the Power of Social Media: How Clinical Labs and Pathology Groups Are Increasing Revenue with New Accounts while Improving Staff Recruiting and Retention

National Lab Sales Excellence Award Winner for Hospital Laboratory Outreach, Sean Murnane, Northwestern Medicine-HealthLab, is a Study in Passion, Perseverance and Competitiveness

Mayo Medical Laboratory’s Mary Bonnerup Combines Heartland Values with Mayo Founders’ Legacy of Putting the Patient First to Win the National Lab Sales Excellence Award for Specialty Testing

National Lab Sales Award Winner, Diane Haley, Partners with Clinical Laboratories to Align Supply Chain Strategies with Reduced Costs and Improved Patient Outcomes

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