Healthcare Business News

New Accretive CEO plans to bring discipline

By Beth Kutscher
Posted: April 3, 2013 - 4:15 pm ET

The new CEO at Accretive Health, the beleaguered revenue-cycle management company, faces the challenging task of moving the company beyond its immediate financial problems and the glare of national publicity stemming from its allegedly aggressive billing collection practices.

The Chicago-based company on Wednesday introduced its new leader, Stephen Schuckenbrock, the former president of Dell Services. He was introduced by Accretive co-founder and current CEO Mary Tolan, who earned $3.9 million in 2011 and will be stepping down from that post.

Accretive is “looking to add to the scale and operational firepower of our senior leadership ranks,” said Tolan, who will become chairman of the board of directors. But she offered little guidance on a question that has been front and center for stockholders and industry observers since the company announced in February that it was delaying the release of its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results for 2012.

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At the time, the company said it needed to re-evaluate when to recognize revenue from its revenue-cycle management contracts—either immediately when contracts are signed or after bills are paid. Last week, the company said it received a March 19 letter from the New York Stock Exchange saying it has until Sept. 18 to file its annual 10-K report or face delisting.

Pressed by an analyst about the timing of its earnings report, Schuckenbrock said only that “the company will react to that situation and make its announcement relative to that situation as soon as they're ready.”

The appointment of Schuckenbrock, a high-ranking official at a major technology company, suggests Accretive believes it will emerge unscathed from its current troubles. Schuckenbrock said he plans to bring “executional discipline” and said he had the “capability to scale this business.” In addition to its hospital billing services, Accretive provides physician assistant services and population health management.

Schuckenbrock's leadership positions at Dell have also included president of the large enterprise division and chief information officer. He previously spent time at EDS, PepsiCo and Frito-Lay.

Analysts were openly skeptical about the company's latest moves. Bret Jones, an analyst at Oppenheimer, questioned in a research note the “seemingly rushed transition without an obvious pressing need.” It would have been better for the company to “resolve the ongoing accounting review prior to shaking up the C-suite,” the note said.

Accretive became the face of some hospitals' hardline debt collection practices after it was sued by the Minnesota attorney general's office for allegedly violating patient privacy and consumer protection laws. A litigation settlement—including an exit from the state—hurt the company's third-quarter results, when net income decreased to $2.8 million on $223.1 million in sales compared with $7.3 million earnings on $218.9 million in sales in the same quarter the prior year.

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