Flying Home From Louisiana

I am sitting on the plane flying home from New Orleans for the last time (for work), listening to Valse de Opelousas and reflecting on the past 11 months. I haven’t done as good of a job of chronicling my time in Louisiana as I should have, but I can simply say that it has been a fantastic experience.

For the past eleven months, I have been traveling to Louisiana weekly (with very few exceptions) to build the provider network for a new Medicaid health plan, Louisiana Healthcare Connections (LHC), a subsidiary of Centene Corporation. When I started, there were five of us in Baton Rouge developing strategy and starting to do outreach for contracting. Now, LHC has 140 employees and provides health insurance to ~168,000 individuals in Louisiana generating estimated annual revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We were key players in essentially building a start-up into a major contributor to its Fortune 500 parent. I am very proud of the work we have done.

When I started this job eleven months ago, I essentially knew nothing about what I was to be doing. While I still have a lot to learn, I have helped train several people on contracting/network development and have been a point person for escalated issues. I appreciate all of the people who have taken time to train me, share with me, support me, and trust me. I am excited to keep growing in this position.

I have been to every corner of Louisiana and many places in between. I’ve seen some places that I would love to visit again – and some that I hope to never visit again. I’ve met some great people and have heard some very interesting stories. I’ve sampled local culture and cuisine. Louisiana is a great state with so much to offer, I highly recommend it to everyone. Just be sure to get off the beaten path and explore a little bit. You never know what you might find. That is certainly a lesson I am taking forward myself.

Importantly, I have worked with some amazing people and made some great new friends. These people really made my time in Louisiana enjoyable – and are making leaving Louisiana much harder than I had anticipated. I hope to visit soon.

I do not yet know what the next state is in which I will work. I should be finding out soon. Regardless of where it is, I am looking forward to applying the skills I have learned in a new market, continuing to learn and grow, and see what the future holds!


Update Upon Arrival in St. Louis:

I found out upon landing that I will be helping with our Missouri health plan, Home State Health Plan, for a few weeks. Likely working on provider data and accuracy/usability. After that I am on to the next plan. That is still up in the air.

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Mid-Week Update

I’m writing this on the plane again.  That seems to be happening a lot lately.  Maybe a new trend?  I should really get better at posting during the week… hopefully I’ll be able to get into a groove/pattern with my travel and make that start happening.

Last weekend was great.  I was able to explore areas of St. Louis that I had really wanted to see.  Friday night I went out with some friends around Laclede’s Landing in downtown St. Louis.  I found some great places and a club and was able to enjoy music and dance – I was really looking for that.  Saturday night I explored the Delmar Loop at night with some friends.  It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped, but still nice.  Sunday I played disc golf with a friend at a part nearby, which was a lot of fun.  I definitely have room for improvement though.

I spent the week working in Baton Rouge, LA.  I like the office there and have now met the Louisiana Healthcare Connections staff, with the exception of some consultants and contractors.  I definitely have a lot to learn still but things are beginning to make sense and fit together.  My projects are expanding and I am starting to talk to providers on the phone – although if they ask me questions, I still often don’t know the answers.  That will come though.

This healthcare business is extremely complicated.  There are so many moving parts and I am glad to be able to see what that looks like “on the front line” – i.e. in the field.

It seems though that many providers are missing what many today to be standard pieces of a business – most specifically email.  I have also been told by some that they do not have email at home or work.  My worldview is certainly challenged by this and I need to make sure that I understand context and culture to effectively serve the people with whom I am working.

I’m a bit surprised to say this, but so far I actually like Baton Rouge.  People are just incredibly friendly.  Even people at bus stops say hello as you walk by!  I stood at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capital Center.  I was a big fan, mainly because of the people.  It did have free internet and bottled water, which was nice though.  If I am there for a while, I hope to explore the city somewhat, even though I also kind of like spending time in the hotel.

I still need to convince myself to go to bed earlier.  I wish I wasn’t tired so much.  This week was better, but I need to get better about that.  I also need to start going to the gym.

Tonight, I am going to the baseball game.  I won tickets from Centene!  I am little worried that I will miss picking them up though because my flight is late.  Hopefully it works out!

First Week On The Job

I recently completed my first week working at Centene Corporation.  It was a good week and I am happy with my job so far.  Working full-time is certainly a change.  I am definitely not used to being somewhere at 8:00 a.m. every morning (if not earlier) and doing the whole work thing all day.  It is going to take some adjusting, but I am enjoying myself after the first week.  Hopefully I will continue to do so.

Week one started with orientation.  I saw the videos and presentations on policies, procedures, standards, etc.  As the week progressed, I got setup with my equipment, sat in on meetings, and began to understand more about what my role as Contract Negotiator is.  I spent a good amount of time on the phone with the Service Desk getting everything set up.  I still am waiting to get setup in some systems (e.g. expense reports), but I am well on the way.

My second day on the job I was listening in on a conference call and sitting in on a meeting.  By the end, some of it was making sense 🙂  I’ve also had my first WebEx meeting in a corporate setting.  I’ve got a company laptop, BlackBerry, and aircard, and should receive my corporate American Express card soon.

As a Contract Negotiator I am building provider networks for managed Medicaid plans.  I have been assigned to help develop the network for Louisiana.  As such, I will be spending much of my time on the road traveling around Louisiana.  I will be functioning as a Network Development Specialist for Louisiana Healthcare Connections – a Centene subsidiary.  It is headquartered in Baton Rouge.

My job has best been described as follows: when you enroll in a health insurance program, you may be given a book of providers (doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc.) that you can visit and which are covered by your insurance.  My role is to get those providers to be in the book.  From what I’ve gathered around the office, there are a lot of pieces to making that happen.  Some are designated by the company and some are designated by the state.  I will be interacting with quite a few corporate departments including legal, credentialing, business development, and more.

The people are great so far.  Most people do seem to be older than me, but that’s okay.  And I’m sure there are more people to meet.  My first business travel begins tomorrow morning.  I’m headed to New Orleans and then around Louisiana.  Hopefully I’ll have an even better idea of where I will plug in when I get back Thursday night.  I’m sure I have a lot to learn. 🙂