An Indian folktale: Once upon a time, there lived a Brahmin in a village on the outskirts of a jungle. A devotee of the Hindu God Shiva, he started his day by visiting Shiva’s temple which sat amidst the thick jungle. So challenging was it to get to, that few other devotees visited the site. Nevertheless, the Brahmin went there every day to pay homage and each day he left a silver coin for Shiva as part of his morning ritual. Unbeknownst to him, a thief would follow him every day to the temple and wait for him to depart and then steal the coin.
Both the Brahmin and the thief were steadfast in performing their daily ritual—both were consistent in their devotion; the Brahmin to leave a coin and the thief to steal it. One day there was a torrential rain that left the village nearly submerged, so the Brahmin could not visit the temple. The thief, however, thinking that the Brahmin would not miss his trip to the temple, decided he must go to the temple. When he arrived the temple was nearly sunk, but he nevertheless swam to the temple, bowed his head to the statue as he had done in the past, and searched for the silver coin. It is said that Shiva was so delighted by the thief’s steadfast consistency that the deity placed a silver coin for the thief to steal away.
The moral of the story: If you unfailingly follow a path, even against all odds, your consistency will bring your due.
Why do I share this tale? I’ve written more than my share of articles about cost cutting, and I’ve read a lot about it. But what I rarely write or see in print is about the role consistency plays in the process. Consistency really is the backbone of all things healthcare, but even more so in finance, because if you are inconsistent, especially with your payers, you’re likely to lose money.