VGM goes exclusive

Monday, March 31, 2008

DULUTH, Ga., and WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group in March inked a 10-year exclusive partnership with Brightree, an Internet billing and business services company.
“We’ve had a non-exclusive relationship for three years, and VGM members now make up 320 of Brightree’s 620 customers,” said VGM President Ron Bendell. “Through this partnership, we intend to create a large, virtual VGM-Brightree community that can leverage a wealth of services that no individual provider could ever assemble alone.”
The arrangement is VGM’s first-ever exclusive partnership.
The deal represents a significant coupe for Brightree, giving it the inside track on picking up more business with VGM’s roughly 3,000 HME members. The exclusive arrangement means that Brightree will not sign vendor contracts with VGM competitors, including The MED Group, and that VGM will not contract with
Brightree competitors.

“VGM’s sales team is going to be marketing Brightree to members, and they have never done that before,” said Brightree CEO Dave Cormack.
VGM members who sign up with Brightree receive a 10% discount on products and services.
VGM officials said they consider Brightree’s Internet-based service to be on the cutting edge of billing and business development services. That became apparent following Hurricane Katrina, Bendell said. While the storm wiped out a number of VGM members, those with Brightree’s Internet-based service had their billing data stored remotely and could continue to submit claims.
The backbone of Brightree’s offering includes a “seamless” Internet portal that connects providers to manufacturers, Medicare, private payers and outsourcing partners for billing and other business services.
By using data submitted by VGM and its members—as well as non-VGM members—Brightree plans to develop a broad array of business benchmarks that providers can use to evaluate their own performance. Benchmarks already in place or in the works include data on DSOs, customer satisfaction, claims denials, unbilled revenue and CMN processing. Some of these benchmarks will include information provided by VGM and be proprietary to its members.
Given the range of the services to be offered and developed, anything less than a 10-year contract would not produce an adequate return on investment, said Cormack.
“We are probably going to invest a few million dollars of resources and money between us in this relationship,” he said. “To put together all these performance metrics and benchmarking and relationships with manufacturers through VGM and ourselves, and do it for just two or three years didn’t make sense.” HME