George Bennett recently joined the Devon International Group as president of Devon Heath. I met with Mr. Bennett to gain a better understanding of his career and the healthcare industry.

Coming from Texas, how did you make your way to the east coast?

I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, so I found my way to Texas Tech in an obvious fashion. My first career post-graduation was with Traveler’s Insurance Group Department in February of 1972 and they required their new hires to complete training at their headquarters in Connecticut. It was there that I first got to experience the change in the seasons. In west Texas there are almost no trees, so when I saw the change of the seasons in Connecticut I was amazed. It was beautiful.

What did you see in Devon Health that made you want to join the team?

Well, having come off five years of running an organization of the same basic tenants [First Health] and knowing this organization because I’ve done business with them in the past, and knowing John Bennett and having an appreciation for him, it was a real opportunity for me to accept this position. It’s great to come in here and see that with the changes in the marketplace, we can create a new delivery of our services to our customers. PPACA might be closing the door to some opportunities, but it will also create new opportunities for those in the business who know how to react creatively to those opportunities. We will be adding to our portfolio of products and services. I’m excited to have this platform at Devon Health Services to be able to do that.

Could you describe what a PPO network is and what exactly Consilium does?

A PPO network is an arrangement by which a third party has a contractual arrangement with providers, which fall into three categories: facilities, doctors and specialists, and ancillary providers. The third party has contracts for discounted services and offers the use of those contracts to payers who adjudicate claims on behalf of their employee memberships. A primary network (owned and operated by organization taking risk) and secondary network, that surrounds the primary network, provide discounts for medical care delivery. We provide both – primary and secondary.

Consilium works with non par claims, which means that they have no prearranged contractual agreement for discounts. They negotiate on-the-spot discounts with the provider for the delivery of medical services. So you may want to know why providers would give a discount if they didn’t have to. For one, they are reimbursed more promptly. They’re not averse to giving a reduction in their billed charges for more appropriate confirmation that they will receive some form of remuneration.

You’ve had quite a career in various positions, including sales, marketing, and account management. What do you think would be your best advice for someone trying to make it up the ranks? Do you have any great leadership tips?

I think the only way to actually be in a position of leadership is to have experienced at least most of the fundamental roles associated with that business. And I think although there are schools of thoughts that are diametrically opposed to this, you can’t be a good leader across the board. You need to know your business in order to effectively lead, start at the bottom and work your way up and with the experience you glean from that process, you’ll be in a better position to lead that organization.

Having experience in marketing, can you explain the best way for sales and marketing to work harmoniously?

In order to be in harmony, you have to look at what the best delivery method is for the customer. There is no perfect way, except to say there should be people responsible for the day-to-day relationship and service needs of the client, and there should be other people who continue to suggest new ways to interact with the customer. The best way to interact is to take full advantage of the strengths of the sales people and take advantage of the experience and relationships of the customer service people – and these skill sets are not mutually exclusive. They should intertwine at the best possible experience of the customer.

What has been the highlight of your career so far and what are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the highlight of my career to be something I’ll do here. I think I’m actually at a point with my experience and the changing market place to be able to do that.

To this point, the highlight so far has been two-fold. It’s been creating relationships in the industry that are strong and that I take a lot of pride in having. I know a lot of people and I’ve done business with a lot of folks and that’s exciting to me. The second part is that I was able to take an underperforming organization, and in a period of five years, I was able to grow it dynamically. That was very satisfying.

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