Welcome to the latest edition of Cedarians in (Zoom) Cafes Getting Coffee. Let’s check in with Mariel Arce, one of our ace Patient Advocate Leads.
Hi, Mariel — happy spring, and thanks for joining us. Although we can’t be in person right now at a coffee shop, I have to start by asking: what’s your go-to morning drink?
Happy to be here. My go-to is always a Starbucks Double Shot Espresso with light cream. But I’m a huge fan of “Friends,” hence my choice of “coffee shop” for today.
Love it, starting the day off strong. So, can you tell us a little about your background?
Before joining Cedar, I was with Rady Children’s Hospital [in San Diego] for about 10 years. I started off as a front desk receptionist, and then moved my way up to an office manager, and then went behind the scenes as an access analyst. While at Rady, I always found myself working another job or going to school at the same time. It was exhausting! But I’ve never been able to turn down an opportunity to learn or acquire more experience.
Wow, that sounds like a lot. What made you want to join Cedar?
I’d say what made me apply was the company’s vision. It seemed like a great combination of optimizing patient care and satisfaction in tech-savvy ways. I was just very intrigued by the company as a whole, and when I showed up for my interview, I didn’t feel worried or anxious. I actually felt very calm, and confident in what I could bring to the table.
When I think about Cedar’s “no mediocrity” value, I realize it was definitely important to me even before I knew it was such a strong value in our culture. Do your best work, every day, and help others do that too.
You and Cedar are a perfect match. So, what do you do on the Patient Success team?
I started as a Patient Advocate, which meant I was a liaison between patients and healthcare providers. The team is always gathering insights to help ensure Cedar’s technology is meeting patient needs and making payment experiences easier. And that provides a significant financial outcome for providers, too. So we’re trying to help on both sides.
In November 2020, I was promoted to Patient Advocate Lead, which was very exciting. In this role, I oversee the advocates—including our bilingual advocates—and our outsourced call center partners, and give them feedback to make sure we’re always providing the best patient experience.
It must be satisfying to know that you’re helping our Advocates alleviate some of the frustration so rampant in healthcare. What gets you excited about work each day?
I think I’m most passionate about being part of a team that works so hard to meet its goals, and helps each other by constantly showing empathy to peers—and most importantly, to our patients.
As you know, we like to do things a little differently at Cedar. So how do you think our patient advocacy differs from any other healthcare company?
Well, this is the first company I’ve worked for that truly acknowledges everyone’s part in a successful client relationship. On this end of the care team, the patients have already had services and they’re getting a bill, but most of the time, they’re not even expecting this bill. I feel that Cedar lets people know, ‘we hear you, and we’ll guide you through the billing process.’ We’re very reassuring that way.
A lot of these patients are already dealing with something health-wise that has probably disturbed their life in a major way. They’re having a difficult time, and the team really keeps that in mind. Being patient, and finding empathy when patients are really upset is key. It’s not just Cedar’s technology that makes us different—it’s the kind of team we have. And being such a small company, growing into what it is now, I think it’s very impressive to see the results we have achieved so far.
Your team plays a critical role in what we do as a company. What are some of the qualities that you think make someone successful—both on your team, and at Cedar?
Again, it all comes back to empathy. It’s in everything from dealing with other team members, to dealing with calls coming in, to dealing with leadership. Everyone has a point of view, and everyone has a reason for having that point of view. Having empathy can help with understanding and being open-minded.
Aside from valuing empathy, what do you think the company is doing well in making this an innovative and exciting place to work?
For me the All Hands meeting always comes to mind. It’s exciting to hear all the teams get the shout-outs they deserve, and see that everyone is recognized for their work. And I love seeing how dedicated everyone is at Cedar, on every level, on every team. It’s also a great moment to jump in and ask questions about the next steps for Cedar as it’s growing so much and so fast.
One final (and fun) question before you go. With the pandemic, many people at Cedar have gotten very creative with new hobbies. Have you had any time to learn something new?
We made our garage into a gym. I hate working out, but now I have to do it because it’s right here. [laughs] And I’ve never cooked so much in my life. I hate cooking. But I have no choice! One other cool thing is that we got our daughter into Tae Kwon Do. She’s three. I love watching her learn and practice there, so I guess that’s my new hobby.
Mariel is a Patient Advocate Lead at Cedar, and has over 10 years of medical billing, insurance and customer service experience. She joined the company in 2019 and lives with her family in San Diego. (Great news: her team is hiring)
Interested in becoming a Cedarian? We’d love to hear from you. Check out our current openings: https://cedar.com/careers/