This healthcare company can only go upstream with its "you be you" philosophy and collaborative inclinations.

This healthcare company can only go upstream with its "you be you" philosophy and collaborative inclinations.

Chase EuJene McCants went conservative when he started work at CoverMyMeds nearly five years ago. He took out his facial piercings. He buttoned up-and tucked in-his shirt, sleeves down to cover his tattoos. The work cover-up was something he was used to from his time "slinging cellphones" as a salesman at Sprint Nextel and AT&T. But as the days passed, McCants started putting his jewelry back in. One hot day, he took off his hooded sweatshirt, exposing his inked skin. And then Michelle Brown, vice president of operations, walked by.

"I was terrified," McCants recalls. "I went into her office and I was like, 'I can cover up my tattoo if you want me to, it's A-OK; I've done it for all these years.' And she was like, 'No, I think it's weird you're even asking.' And that's when I was like, 'This is really different.' I was used to a corporate environment, and it just wasn't it. It was a group of people who wanted to get together to change something, and those small rules of how you should look and how you should come off just weren't there," says McCants. "So long as we respected each other…we were A-OK."

Columbus-headquartered CoverMyMeds helps physicians, pharmacists and their staff secure "electronic prior authorization," or ePA, from insurance companies to cover medications otherwise not covered by a patient's plan-and it does it quickly. As of March, CoverMyMeds was integrated with more than 500 electronic health records (EHR) systems and had reached 500,000 provider accounts. The network also includes about 47,000 pharmacies and nearly all health plans. CoverMyMeds' technology saves providers time-15 minutes per prior authorization request-and providers are taking note, with up to 1,000 new provider accounts added to CoverMyMeds' numbers each business day.

As business grows, so has CoverMyMeds' employee count. Founded in 2008, the company had about 20 workers when McCants started, he says. Today, it has about 350 workers. Once an account coordinator, one of two members on the support team, McCants is now company trainer, taking each new hire through a four-day education on the business and its various verticals. His supervisor, Customer Operations Director Laurie Boogaard, started at CoverMyMeds in October 2014. "In CoverMyMeds-world, that means I'm a veteran," she says. "When I started, one of the teams I lead had about 20 people. Now we're close to 80. That's huge." Boogaard says after years working for a large employer, she was attracted to CoverMyMeds' people-first attitude, its fast pace and the opportunities it presented for her to learn and grow.

Boogaard leads the support team handling inbound calls and chats, as well as outbound activity. "We are like the voice of CoverMyMeds," she says. The team works six days a week and is on call on Sundays and any off hours. The demand for their work is high, but Boogaard says the hiring process is careful. "We've got to get it right from a culture-fit standpoint. We've got to get it right from a skill set and a knowledge and a brilliance level as well," she says. And the customer operations team is often the pool from which other CoverMyMeds verticals get their new hires. "Typically, supervisors don't necessarily like that because it puts a little strain on us, but it's a good leadership problem to have," says Boogaard.

CoverMyMeds engenders a collaborative environment where colleagues can hash out issues over a drink-office perks include beer on draft-on a walk along a nearby bike path, or, soon, in one of the kayaks purchased for employee use. CoverMyMeds' prime-location, 2 Miranova Place, puts it near the Scioto River and a boat launch.

"The work environment is very collaborative. It's hard to describe. There's a level of fun…that innately happens because everybody enjoys what they're doing," says Boogaard. "It was really hard for me, coming from this bureaucratic, strict place. It took me a while to exhale and feel like, OK, I can be myself. They hired me for my brain and my skills. I can make the right decisions. I know innately what to do, and I can do the right thing."

Boogaard's and McCants' experiences are echoed in the words of colleagues at CoverMyMeds. "I am continually challenged, encouraged and recognized. I feel like I'm part of something big, important and meaningful," said a respondent in a recent survey of the company. Another said the workplace "is an environment that I enjoy being in. They have hired an incredible group of people who are able to have fun and stay completely motivated and productive at the same time. I constantly feel challenged."

In addition to benefits such as health insurance, a 401(k), free parking and an on-site workout facility, CoverMyMeds provides free drinks, snacks and chef-made lunches. Employees can play a game of pool in a common area, participate in intramural sports and compete for life-enrichment grants of up to $3,000 apiece at the annual CoverMyQuest event.

"The benefits are fantastic. And they pay you in a way that says they value you and want you to stay. And that makes the hiring selective," says software engineer Alex Ford, a CoverMyMeds employee since July 2014. "Sometimes,"says Ford, "you'll see places that order a pingpong table and a Kegerator and check off the 'culture' box-but it's not like that here. It's intensely casual…I like to tell people that CoverMyMeds hires really good people and then gets out of their way."

Boogaard says the perks of the job "are nice, but not essential. It's the passion about what we're doing, the work we're doing that comes first, and then these nice benefits are just gravy on top for everything that's happening. It's one of those implied thank-yous from senior leadership that you're doing a great job, keep doing what you're doing."

CoverMyMeds "feels like home," says McCants. "I get to wear what I want to work and not be judged based on how I look…When I went to AT&T, when I went to Sprint, I had to cover the tattoos up, make sure that I (fitted) that company's model of what a retail sales rep was. I had to become what they wanted me to be. When I came here, they said, 'Chase, we want to be yourself.' That is a very simple thing to say, but the impact of those words on an individual is incredible…There is not a single day that I don't want to be working at CoverMyMeds."

Jenny Wray is a freelance writer.

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