In its quest to improve the health of people living in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley and Central Oregon Coast, Samaritan Health Services leads by example.
The not-for-profit network of hospitals, clinics and health services provides employees with gym memberships and other health motivators like fitness trackers. Employees like Kenyon Butler, Samaritan’s accounting manager, reap financial rewards for running – rather than driving – to and from work each day.
Perks like these have helped make Samaritan one of America’s Healthiest Employers. They have also proven to be a wise investment for a healthcare network eager to keep healthcare costs in check. Yet, when Commerce Bank approached Samaritan in 2015 with a way to increase rebate incentives, Samaritan wasn’t quite ready to commit.
“Commerce wanted us to implement an accounts payable (AP) solution where we’d pay participating vendors electronically, rather than with checks, and then receive a revenue share in return,” explains Kenyon.
The problem was, Samaritan had already implemented similar programs with its primary bank and a credit card company. “Those programs required a lot of work on our part, and the results were marginal,” says Kenyon.
"Customer service from Commerce has been great. They require almost no work from us to set up our AP program. It's been a roaring success."
But that didn’t stop Portland, Oregon-based Commerce representative, Julie Brock from calling. “Julie explained that we were leaving thousands of dollars on the table, and they could help us recover them with very little effort on our part,” Kenyon says. “That got my attention.”
In March 2016, Samaritan invited Commerce to fill the gaps in its existing AP payment program. “Their staff went to work adding vendors,” Kenyon says. “They quickly became our most successful partner.”
Today, Samaritan averages $1.5 million in monthly payments through the program. Revenue shares exceeded first-year projections by 6 percent.
“The revenue share alone pays the salaries of our four-person AP staff, transforming us from a cost center to a profit center,” says Kenyon. “That doesn’t include the up-to-$50,000 a year that Commerce saves us in check processing costs.”
“Commerce now handles the majority of Samaritan’s electronic payments,” adds Kenyon. “That was not our intention. But they made it way too easy for us. It’s a terrific program.”