Recently, many senior hospital and health system executives who are otherwise leading their health systems brilliantly through a rapidly changing healthcare reimbursement system have been tripped up, and in some cases, let go, for a decidedly old-school reason: debtor harassment.
I say old-school because while the flap over Accretive Health's debt collection tactics might seem like news, only the names and places have changed in eight years. The problem is the same.
Haven't they learned from their predecessors? One of the first big stories I did for HealthLeaders magazine, back in 2004, involved overly aggressive self-pay debt collection and the huge problems it caused for hospitals and health systems, from regime change to loss of nonprofit status.
I wrote it nearly eight years ago—so long ago that even the Internet has forgotten about it. So perhaps I should cut leaders some slack. I would, except for the fact that this type of mistake is so easily avoidable.