Executive Spotlight: Lisa Firestone, MHSA President and Founder of MCA

Lisa Firestone, MHSA president and owner of Managed Care Advisors (MCA), recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company’s new acquisitions, hires, and technologies that have expanded MCA’s presence in the federal sector. She also discussed the organization’s values and challenges and where MCA will move in the future.

“My passion, as an active member of the women’s business community and a woman business owner, is to advocate on behalf of women business owners, mentor young professionals and entrepreneurs and be a good role model. Women are very talented. 

I feel like it’s my role to mentor the next leaders. There are so many brilliant women in business. So that’s been one of my honors throughout my career, and I strive to guide women around roadblocks that I have experienced. It’s imperative. There are no boundaries for women.”

ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about MCA’s vision and core values working in the federal sector? What are the most common challenges?

“We are such a mission-driven company. We’ve chosen to be a premier government solutions company, focusing on worker’s compensation and population health. Our core values are Empowerment. Client Focus, Community Integrity, and Quality, these values, along with our mission of “Empowering Individuals and Organizations to Attain and Maintain Health and Productivity,” are the foundation for our company.

Whether our case managers are working with individuals that have sustained work-related injuries and/or illnesses, have been exposed to COVID-19, or are medically fragile, we strive to provide them with a sense of Empowerment through education, support, and resources, so they are an active participant in their treatment and recovery. Client focus is also critical.

If you don’t have clients, you don’t have a business. We’re advocates of giving back and acting with integrity. We work with clients to enable them to obtain and sustain health and productivity. The core values align with our mission statement. It’s the foundation of everything we do, and it guides us down the right path.

For example, in 2019, federal workers experienced over a hundred thousand injuries, which translates into about $4 billion in benefits paid to 217,000 workers and survivors. It’s a massive addressable market.

For us, our entire goal in that federal space is to minimize the impact of an on-duty injury or illness long term on an employee, agency, or family. We’re a microcosm of the healthcare industry. I always say to all my new employees that, in a perfect world, you go to work every day, you would leave your house, come home safe, not sick, not injured, but that’s not reality. We’re here to minimize that impact.”

ExecutiveBiz: On this new five-year BPA, what are some of the ways the company will be able to evolve workers’ compensation case management and provide solutions for those challenges?

“If you go back to our mission and vision, we are always doing continuous quality improvement. We have a variety of interesting opportunities, and we’ve been lucky enough to have worked with DHS for 15 years, but we continually look at what we do and improve.

One of the ways we’re expanding and improving is through our technology; we are continuously looking for ways to innovate, such as using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Our vision is to not just work with people when they get injured but to utilize our people, processes, and technology to help them, so they don’t get injured in the first place.

At MCA, we place a lot of focus on data and analytics. We are continuously evaluating and upgrading our tools and outputs to provide our customers with proactive and actionable information that will support the efficient and effective management of their programs.

We also rely heavily on our clinical abilities and analytics to identify potential instances of fraud, waste, and abuse, before it becomes a barrier to recovery or leads to widespread financial issues.

We are poised to become the center of excellence for the government for anything related to federal workers’ compensation, including case management products and services. We’re going to keep on doing what we do every day to continue to better the company and our offerings.

The BPA award is wonderful for our organization and the customers who have come to depend on us. MCA has coined the phrase “the Power of Pivot” to describe our ability to adapt to address the unexpected quickly. MCAs focus on data analysis and the close monitoring of unusual trends, altered us to the potential widespread impact of COVID-19.

Along with our clinical team, we recognized patterns and a public health issue well before it became a national issue. Our ability to quickly adapt “pivot” led us to the rapid deployment of a module within our system to track, trace, manage, and monitor what became the pandemic at the individual and aggregate level.

The BPA has also enabled us to continue these initiatives. We’ve been the backbone; we’re essential personnel. We’ve worked through shutdowns and through natural disasters with DHS. We are committed to continuing to support them as efficiently and effectively as possible so that they can support their mission.

This award escalates our trajectory to move from the small to the middle market. As a woman-owned small business for years, this BPA, along with our recent acquisitions, has enabled us to emerge to the middle market, and represents the next generation of growth.”

ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about WebOPUS and its capabilities?

“We’ve been using WebOPUS as a technology since 2005 in the federal space. We have taken it over the years, and we enhanced and have federalized it. It’s a cloud-based case management, claims management, document storage, and reporting system dedicated to workers’ compensation and population health.

We have aligned WebOPUS with the federal guidelines, both from a security and from a regulation standpoint. More importantly, we have secured it in a federal data center, and it’s a proprietary system.

It’s federalized, mission-ready, easy to use, and offers a secure interface that allows authorized users to see information quickly. The platform has enabled users to maximize data capture, support workflow, and perform clinical decision making. It’s an extremely viable piece of software.

Now that we own the software, we are able to offer it as software as a service (SaaS). We view WebOPUS through the lens of build once, use it many times. With this software, you could pick it up, place it in any federal agency, and quickly have it up and running.”

ExecutiveBiz: With the addition of Michael Smith to the team, how do you see MCA growing in the healthcare sector over the next year?

“We hired Michael Smith as our new chief information officer (CIO). First and foremost, we are healthcare professionals. It is our duty to protect and secure the information in our systems. The new, remote world, where people reside in different places, is the top of the mind.

We already meet federal guidelines for security, like our FedRAMP data center. We specifically earmarked Michael Smith because he comes with not only two decades of experience, but he is very experienced in security, from infrastructure, software security, and personnel.

He has a dual role as our CIO and our system security officer (CISO). We’re a paperless company. All communication is behind a firewall. We take security very seriously. Around 2012, we made the decision, before we owned the software, to move MCA from a commercial data center to a federal data center, that we wanted to be the gold standard for security.

We needed to have someone to lead that charge with the experience and depth that Michael brings. It’s so important to the people we serve as well as our business.”

ExecutiveBiz: How will MCA’s acquisition of the MCMC call center operations in Danbury expand the company’s presence in the healthcare IT sector?

“We made the acquisition of WebOPUS in 2019 to continue our growth and become the preeminent player in this industry. We wanted to buy WebOPUS because we’ve developed it and nurtured it. We came to the same conclusion with our call center. In our business, it’s more of a hotline than a contact center. It’s a 24/7 lifeline and serves as the first entree people have into our company and the services we provide.

It made sense when we got to a certain volume that we could continue to meet our values and our mission. Our acquisitions have allowed us to expand. Not only is it an injury hotline for our current clients, but we’re also using it as a COVID-19 hotline for our full-service case management customers as well as new customers who have hired us to support the reporting, tracking, tracing, and medical management of COVID 19.

We brought on new clients because we have the technologies and professionals to quickly pivot to address both the case management and analytic imperatives of a pandemic. It helped us as an IT company and fed our systems. We’re also going to be able to consolidate some of our services, whether it’s the help desk, technical question, or a hotline. The acquisition was a builder decision that we have scouted for a long time. We decided the best thing to do was to buy it.”

ExecutiveBiz: Where do you see MCA growing over the next five years?

“The future looks bright. We have got a robust growth outlook. We are well-positioned for growth. We have the infrastructure in place to continue to grow, and it’s our goal to do everything we can to get that SaaS product into the market.

Whether you want to buy a service or IT system, you will receive the same level of product service that you would have in a solution. We want to push towards being that center of excellence for the government.

We understand government contracting, and we tend to stick closely to our mission. We also manage specialty health programs and see massive growth opportunities in federal workers’ compensation and population health on the SaaS side and on the system side within our traditional business.

We’ve shown how flexible and nimble we are and have ventured into specialty health and population health, which will be a significant growth area for us as well. We’re primed and ready for growth, and we see our organization continuing in a quality manner that meets our vision and our mission.”

Managed Care Advisors