Mollie Kallen – CEO and President,
MKCM, Inc. (Mollie Kallen Case Management, Inc.)
Mollie has over 30 years in the workers’ compensation industry. Her company prides itself on being the only case management company with a national footprint that is headed by a veteran case manager. In this interview, Mollie talks to me about the unique services offered by her company and her decades of experience in the field.
Starting Out In The Workers’ Compensation Domain
Mollie began her career counseling injured workers at a private psychological practice in Ohio. At the time she was focused on holistic care for injured workers but had not specifically targeted the workers’ compensation domain.
She came across an ad in the paper from Intracorp, the first case management company ever started. Mollie applied for the position of case manager and worked with the company for four years. She learned about the industry and then moved to Florida where she was a case manager for CorVel, followed by a year at Genex.
Having found her passion and foothold in the industry, Mollie started her company, MKCM in 2007 with her as a single independent case manager which has now grown to almost 500 case managers across the country.
Talking about signing her first account at her company, Mollie recounts that she started off by looking at employers that were locally self-insured and reached out to them working through different organizations like RIMS, PRIMA, etc.
Networking and cold calls helped her get the start she needed. She also reached out to other case management companies and worked for them independently while building her own company.
‘There was a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, and a lot of being a go-getter. You have to market yourself; you are your best marketer.’
One aspect that keeps Mollie motivated to this day is making a difference in the lives of injured workers and their families during a particularly vulnerable time. She also loves working with case managers and supervising them.
Mollie believes her firm plays an important and integral part in making sure that everybody’s communicating and that the injured worker feels empowered, educated, and has a realistic perception of their rehab program.
‘We are the unsung heroes in the workers’ comp field and an important spoke in the wheel of all of the different providers and the team members in the case.’
Current Business Structure And Organization
The adoption of automation and technology at MKCM has played a big role in spearheading the company’s success, believes Mollie. The company offers a dashboard that real-time allows customers to log in and see their data securely.
Mollie states there are a lot of dashboards out there. Her goal for the industry is to have one centralized dashboard that sits at that adjuster’s desk instead of having different dashboards. This way the risk manager can access all important information in one system.
Talking about her clients at MKCM, Mollie reveals that they work with all kinds of industries from hotels, food distribution companies, and airline retail, to satellite companies, all hospitals, and medical care facilities.
‘Every industry has its own culture and we’re very cognizant of that in how we deal with things. We’re not cookie cutter but very customized in how we respond to the different requirements of customers.’
Clients can be the injured worker, the risk manager of an employer, or even an adjuster of a company. The firm also gets some cases from attorneys and brokers. MKCM currently has 470 case managers across the country with an admin team of 25 people. Presently, the firm is dealing with 55-60 clients.
Standout Moments As A Business Leader
Starting her independent case management company was a big risk but one that paid off in the end. Taking the leap off the cliff of working in a company while being protected and supported to start her firm was a huge moment for Mollie.
Another important milestone was witnessing the organic growth of her firm. It was not a planned effort to grow to such a scale which made the achievement all the more meaningful.
‘I could not have done this alone, it takes a village and there’s an amazing group of people that I work with on a day-to-day basis, including the case managers and our customers that make it all worthwhile.’
Another standout moment for Mollie was when she was recognized at a meeting by an injured worker who spoke about the positive impact her firm made on the trajectory of his rehab and getting back to work.
Talking about the achievements of her company, MKCM, Mollie believes it has gone way beyond her dreams of achievements. Rather than focusing on expanding, Mollie believed in excelling at what they are good at. The volume of work taken up by the company, the variance of the different customers, and the effort of every member of the team are huge successes for Mollie.
Overcoming Challenges Over The Years
COVID-19 was a significant challenge, but MKCM weathered the storm quite well. The entire team banded together and continued to go out and meet with people while coming up with innovative ways to continue to connect with people. Telehealth became an important backup tool when a visit to the doctor’s office was not possible, or when people were worried about their health.
Another challenge was to grow, but to do so smartly and intelligently. Mollie’s priority is ensuring that the firm’s infrastructure can support its growth. Additionally, finding balance in acquiring new customers while ensuring appropriate attention is given to existing customers can be challenging it is important.
‘Never take anybody for granted whether that’s a customer, a team member, an injured worker, or a case manager. It is important to let people know that you appreciate them.’
Business Plans For The Future
Mollie reveals that they are working on developing a triage program. While important, they are taking their time to ensure it is done correctly. She is also actively involved in the industry as a volunteer and speaker.
Growth is important, but it needs to be purposeful. At MKCM, Mollie takes pride in the team’s ability to be proactive instead of reactive and keep on doing the good work. Her focus is on ensuring the customers are happy, injured workers are progressing well, and her team of case managers and admin feel happy and recognized for all of their hard work, which are all essential to growth.
Talking about the marketing methods that help the firm, Mollie states that her team attends conferences, organizes dinners, and actively networks. They also support organizations they believe in through sponsorships. Speaking at events is important as it is the best advertisement. People can come up directly and ask questions allowing for better engagement.
‘We are partners to a lot of our customers, case managers and members, and we take that seriously. It’s not always about business 24/7, the relationship has to have a trust factor otherwise you are not going to retain customers.’
Top Philosophies And Core Values In Business
A core value is being focused on the injured worker holistically and not just looking at them as a claim number.
Mollie recounts that when she started, the attitude of the industry was different. Now, there is a shift to looking out for the injured workers, looking at their lives, social and economic situations, childcare situations, comorbidities, and all these factors holistically.
This allows firms to better help the workers while making them feel engaged and empowered, all of which affects the bottom line. Further, this system affects the avoidance of legal, psych, pain management, and medication, making it a win-win situation.
Mollie feels it is essential to have sensitive ways of dealing with injured workers and being cognizant that what these people are dealing with are horrific and catastrophic injuries that are impactful to their lives, families, children, and their significant other.
‘You always want to treat people the way that you want to be treated. A big philosophy is taking not just the injured workers but our whole industry and trying to make it more human.’
Another philosophy is mentoring. Mollie believes it is important to leave a legacy and to help newcomers gain from one’s years of knowledge. This also provides the experienced person with the chance to learn new and innovative ways.
Advice For Newcomers Starting A Career In Workers’ Compensation
Find a mentor or several mentors. Mollie believes this is a great way to connect with people from a networking and knowledge transference perspective. Another is to get a good foundation. Sign up for classes and stay updated as things change constantly. The industry laws change, processes change, and technology changes.
Over the years, Mollie has noticed an absence of case management understanding at the nursing school level. Talking and educating people about case managers is important for everyone to work together as a team.
Finally, Mollie believes in reaching out when one needs help. Even the veteran case managers, in her experience, reach out to others when they are stumped. This constantly helps one learn and be better.
‘You want to be open to changes in your path and belief that everything happens for a reason. This industry can be rough at times so make sure that you carve out time for yourself, your family, and your health.’
Key Benefits Of Services At MKCM
Mollie states that her firm is often brought on for cost containment and to help move the file forward. Instead, she encourages people to reach out to her sooner as her firm can help choose the better doctors, steer the claim in a better direction, and help contain the claim while making sure the injured workers are getting the best care.
Other benefits include the avoidance of litigation and containing the claim from abusive medications and referrals to specialists that are not medically necessary, assisting with stay-at-work job modifications, and making sure the doctors and the injured workers are both aware of accommodations that are available by the employer.
Staying Successful In This Industry
Looking at the future, Mollie says staying humble tops her list for achieving future success. It is important to be open to other people’s ideas and creativity.
Not being tunnel-visioned can help growth while making sure that the company stays on track with regard to its ethics, goals, and team. Mollie also advises looking at one’s priorities and goals on an annual or twice a year basis, making sure that along with checking off goals, the leaders are also checking in with the team, customers, and case managers.
‘As the head of the firm, I am not only responsible for me and my family but I’m responsible for all these other people’s families that are depending on me and our company. I take that very seriously.’
Leadership Lessons Learned Throughout Life
‘I think staying humble is one and being grateful is another, and recognizing people is really important.’
Sometimes, people get solely focused on themselves and their goals and tend to forget the people surrounding them, whether that’s personally or professionally. Mollie believes it is important to focus on self-care and make time for one’s family and loved ones.
Gratefulness is also important. Letting one’s customers, team members, and case managers know they are appreciated, even with simple gestures, can go a long way in building relationships.
Finally, it is important to keep one’s eyes forward but also present at the same time. People have to be looking ahead and identify the gaps that need to be filled with regard to personnel, or product lines while keeping their feet present in what’s going on in the day today.
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