Ed Smelser is the Executive Director of Marketing Acquisition for Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies (RCCS). A lengthy title for somebody who consistently challenges people to zoom out, simplify, and see the big picture before developing the details. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask him directly what it is he does for RCCS, his answer might be a string of bottom-line deliverables – educate, advance, and grow.
“I’ve been in the marcom game since 1997.” Ed began his career in the world of consumer product promotions with a client list that reads like the brands you see at Target. He then decided to transition into B2B (business-to-business) marketing, giving up clients for employers like the Minnesota Trucking Association (logistics), LeadingAge (long-term care association), and Amplifon (hearing-health consultants).
When asked about his role across different industries, Ed had this to say, “Marketing and communications are the core skillset for me. When my industry has changed, there is a new demand to raise my level of subject matter expertise. I’ve always considered this a challenge to hone my industry savvy while (perhaps more importantly) building a top-notch team of subject matter experts.”
With this in mind, he works with a high-performing team at RCCS with experts in several areas. “For the first half of my career, I was a marketing department of one – I wore every hat. I was a graphic designer, a salesperson, a database designer, a video editor, a web designer, an experiential marketer, a proposal writer, and more.” This ‘jack of all trades’ aspect positioned Ed to work with and develop focused experts in each field. Ed says, “It helps me to have referenceable experience when asking somebody to take on the ownership of a project. However, I love to work with my marcom team and support their individual skills; they exceed my abilities by leaps and bounds and while I know enough to be dangerous (and more importantly, to have a deep understanding of what I am asking them to do) I would rather lift up somebody else in their specialty than try and do everything myself. At the end of the day, a leader is truly only as good as their team.”
“The healthcare subject matter experts at RCCS and its sister organizations are hands down the best in the industry. They know hospital consulting, auditing, coding, revenue optimization, and compliance. I can’t even come close to their level of expertise – and the best part is, I don’t need to.” Ed knows that when you are surrounded by a diverse team of experts, communication and collaboration are critical.
Communication and collaboration – this is where Ed puts on his subject matter expert hat.
When the preeminent healthcare compliance and billing resources providers joined forces, it changed the game for hospital consulting. RCCS (along with Regents and RC Billing) has the renewed energy of a startup with over 25 years of service and expertise – in many ways, this is a lot like Ed himself.
Ed kicked off his career around the same time the RCCS story began. He would spend the next 16 years developing a common core of marcom expertise before shifting into the healthcare space.
In 2013 he joined Value First, a long-term care group purchasing organization (GPO) – a for-profit subsidiary of a non-profit trade association. He was no stranger to the “member-first” culture of associations having just wrapped up five years at the Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA).
“Healthcare, as we all know, is a unique and rewarding challenge,” says Ed. Trade associations, especially those representing healthcare communities, have a strong similarity to the DNA of RCCS. Both exist to lift up the client or member by providing valuable resources, programs, education, and support.
When asked what he liked the most about working at RCCS, he said, “We pay a lot of attention to what a prospective and current client is experiencing, whether it is when they hear about us for the first time, or we’ve been helping them succeed for years. This is a target that never stops moving and my department is in a constant state of change as we keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s next and adapt on a dime. It’s almost like I’ve been training for this challenge my entire career. I’ve succeeded (and stumbled) in ways that make every new challenge at RCCS feel like familiar territory.”
Ed lives in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul (residing in downtown Minneapolis) with his husband, Clayton, and their dog, Izzy. It doesn’t take long for him to interject a Minnesota colloquialism into a conversation with an “Uff da” or “I’m grabbing a little lunch.” He’s well-traveled domestically having been to all states except Alaska.
His hobbies rotate every few years and are as different from each other as you can possibly imagine. Whether it is restoring vintage reel-to-reel systems, turning old Macs into aquariums, buying and selling cars, making reproduction Vectrex overlays and exhibiting at a classic video game expo in Las Vegas (you’ll have to Google this one), or saving up to invest in a kinetic art piece – the one constant is change.
“They say life is short, so I decided early on I was going to live a few of them in the time I have.”