Jesse Arnoldson, one of the new owners of MedMan, a Boise-based medical management business, says they are looking to do more expansion into Southeast Idaho and credits his business success to the training he received through Idaho State University’s business programs and being involved in ISU’s Bengal Solutions program. One of the other owners, Molly Ramsay, as well as the original founder and previous owner of MedMan, Jim Trounson, are also ISU alumni.
“Southeastern Idaho is a great fit for our services because there is a good, healthy independent physician population as well as many hospitals, which are trying to make improvements,” Arnoldson said, “And to be honest, there’s a little bit of sentimental value there. I grew up in Springfield and went to school in Aberdeen. We want to do work there. It’s where our friends and family are, but we also see it as a place which has a lot of potential to centralize our business development efforts.”
Before establishing MedMan in 1977, Arnoldson said Trounson helped manage health care in the military and became the hospital administrator for Steele Memorial in Salmon. Trounson also founded the Family Medical Residency of Idaho, one of the largest physician training programs in Idaho. As new physicians completed their residencies, Trounson recognized their need for help with establishing their business practices and MedMan, America’s first physician practice management company, was born.
“These physicians are incredibly intelligent,” Arnoldson said, “but whether they want to or are capable of doing the accounting, the marketing, the workflow, business contracting, negotiating payer rates is another story. Some of them just don’t have time to do it all and some of them just shouldn’t be doing it. They should be in the patient room focusing on what they went to school for.”
Arnoldson said that medical schools rarely train physicians on the business side of their practices. He added that ISU’s new medical school in Meridian is one of the more progressive ones that is addressing those problems.
MedMan trains and employs full-time administrators to work with and for the doctors or facility management to implement MedMan’s “Improvement Cycle.” These administrators assess efficiency and effectiveness in everything from finance, to HR operations, to compliance and then create and execute a plan for improvement.
“What makes the most money for a practice is when the physician is in the patient room seeing patients,” Arnoldson said. “There are getting to be more and more regulations [issued by insurances, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.] that doctors have to follow in order to get paid such as charting, documentation and follow-up. They also have to make sure they are compliant so that they aren’t penalized or sued. And then there is the business side of things.”
Arnoldson said that medical coverage providers are starting to pay more for preventative care measures such as mammograms and immunizations instead of by the number of “patients who walk through the door.” In this way, companies hope to catch problems in their earliest and least expensive stages.
“It’s different for each state and different for each payer such as Medicaid versus Blue Cross of Idaho,” Arnoldson said. “It’s different if you are independent versus part of a hospital-owned. It’s a very cumbersome movement. That’s why MedMan wanted to be ahead of the times on it.”
Arnoldson said the way MedMan’s administrators work together as team is very progressive as well. Normally, administrators are competing to make sure their practices thrive better than others. MedMan’s administrators work together for support and to share ideas for improving the practices with whom they work.
“It’s really an awesome team-based approach to what is typically a lone-wolf job,” Arnoldson said.
“Administrators normally can’t share with the staff what they’re doing and they can’t share difficulties with the doctors. They don’t have anyone to turn to.”
Starting out as its sole employee, Trounson grew MedMan into a business which now services clients throughout the Northwest. Trounson, though retired from MedMan, continues to do consulting work for other practices and medical facilities around the world.
Arnoldson was introduced to MedMan through ISU’s Bengal Solutions Graduate Assistantship program which provides Master of Business students tuition assistance and opportunities for real-world experience in their fields. Trounson had asked Bengal Solutions to help with some research regarding the transitioning of reimbursement models that he saw trending and Arnoldson was selected to help.
As Arnoldson neared the end of his schooling, Trounson created an Administrative Fellowship for him which eventually turned into a full-time position in 2016. In October of 2018, Arnoldson became MedMan’s Business Development Director and part owner alongside Randy Evaro-CEO, Molly Ramsay-Corporate Operations Director, and Jay Holmes-CFO.
“What prepared me for everything I am doing now—either the work I did before or now owning the company—I owe to ISU’s incredible Business College staff and curriculum,” Arnoldson said. “It gave me a chance to get familiar with several different business concepts and hone my problem-solving skills, which is really what I do now.”
Arnoldson added that his ISU experience has also now come “full circle” through the further employment of a few Bengal Solutions students on some of their current projects.