Kelly L. Miller, MSHA, MBA, FHFMA Senior Consultant Kraft Healthcare Consulting, LLC
Growing up in East Tennessee, Kelly Miller’s mother, a registered nurse, believed her daughter would do well with a career in healthcare, but Miller knew accounting was her true calling. It turns out they were both right.
Applying for a tax internship her junior year in college, the CPA firm had already filled most of those positions but was looking for a reimbursement intern. “I’d worked a brief stint in the medical records department of my hometown hospital during high school,” explained Miller. “One reimbursement internship turned into two, which also changed my mind from getting a graduate degree in accounting to getting a graduate degree in healthcare administration.”
Miller likes the black and white that comes with her field. “Changing the variables in the equation is what makes the gray, but the accuracy of the calculation is either correct or incorrect. Most people think accounting is all about the math, but the technology does most of that for you these days. The organization and analytics behind the numbers is what makes it difficult,” she explained.
Also complicating matters is the sheer volume of information attached to healthcare. “The regulatory environment is overwhelming and changing daily. The industry is also segregated into so many silos that keeping up with all of them is nearly impossible,” Miller said. She added, “When I started in healthcare, I tried to just keep up with what was finalized, but I realized you also have to keep up with what’s proposed and what may happen so you can have some input on it.”
In the coming years, Miller said the challenge would be to help clients conquer the new healthcare payment system that replaces today’s reimbursement process. Although the direction indicates quality and outcomes will play a key role, details are still being developed. “I think we all have a large learning curve ahead of us in this area,” she noted.
One way she keeps her finger on the pulse of the industry is to be actively involved with Leadership Health Care. A board member for the organization, Miller noted, “While I live and breathe reimbursement, they allow me to keep up with the big picture. You get education, of course, but you also get exposure to a lot of companies and several mentors that you would otherwise never be exposed to.”
Although clearly a ‘numbers person,’ Miller’s real gift is in building relationships. Funny and engaging, she sees so much more than just the bottom line.
Miller credits Scott Mertie, member-in charge for Kraft Healthcare, with helping her keep her eye on the “why” to make the process better and with giving her the opportunity to stretch beyond her comfort zone.
“Honestly, I am a firm believer that you can only be at your best when you have people that support you. I am very lucky to have many supporters in life, both personally and professionally,” she said.
At the end of the workday, Miller noted, “I really enjoy time with my close friends … and if I can talk them into playing billiards, I enjoy it even more!” A word to the wise, Miller, who shoots in nine-ball tournaments when time permits, is an odds-on favorite to win a friendly little game.
Although Miller said she isn’t a philosophical person, she does love a poignant one-liner. More than a decade ago, one of her dearest friends gave her advice she has taken to heart. “She said, ‘Life is about choices.’ It is a very short and truthful fact. The truth is every choice you make will have an impact, and it is important to weigh all of them carefully in every situation.”
Miller added with a laugh, “She also said, ‘You are never too young to start anti-aging,’ which hits me each morning, as well.”