Reflecting on the current state of HME, I find myself thinking about the progress my clients made this past year. With the delay in the 2019 competitive bidding changes, and the onslaught of new audits, the industry has had little time to do much more than stay afloat when dealing with third party payers such as Medicare. Despite these problems, many HME providers have made tremendous gains in their operational efficiencies. the panelists and I will discuss these and other successes during Medtrade Spring’s Best Practices Panel Discussion., A select few are listed below:
For HME providers that implemented mobile delivery this year, the bottom line impact was fewer delivery errors and a profound improvement in delivery to confirmation/billing time. Providers report 80% improvement or more in delivery to claim submission. This means that if the order could not be confirmed because the inventory item was not found or quantities were incorrect, it was solved immediately rather than allowing for a persistent inventory issue. Ultimately, expedited cash flow (order to cash) paid for the expense of the initiative and allowed providers to grow without adding additional human resources.
Similarly, paperless HME businesses contributed to best practice improvements. For some companies, this meant eradicating paper from the office as a whole. The more files and forms they saw, the more management realized they were spending on purchasing paper, printing paper, filing and sorting paper, moving paper back and forth and copying paper. In most cases, paper was never even necessary since the same information was mirrored in the electronically imaged document on the user’s screen. The solution is to make a paperless environment mandatory for employees to perform their functions. For example, staff will need to review imaged documents to determine the viability of an order while they are inputting patient demographic information on another screen. Creating a paperless HME business does not have to cost an excessive amount of money in that most companies have document imaging software through their billing solution or external sources. Either way, teach employees to think of their screen as their filing cabinet and help them understand how easy it is to generate an order directly from that screen.
The final initiative that I have seen repeatedly is the workflow queue and task management systems. Similar to the paperless environment, HME providers use either internal software or outside solutions. I have even seen some companies use products like SmartSheet to effectively control their workflow. Optimally, the software will be integrated with the billing solution, but either way, establishing work queues, tracking and monitoring them and measuring against them for goal/KPI purposes promotes quantifiable accountability. In turn, this not only establishes expectations but staff can self-evaluate. What a great way to know if you are performing at the standard level of performance. For example, you will know where in the operational flow you have a break down. If the insurance authorization department doesn’t garner the prior authorization in a timely manner, for instance, you will know because you have set a goal to have the authorization back in a specific amount of time. If it doesn’t come back timely, you will receive a report/alert and you will address the issue directly with the responsible employee and the insurance company. It allows you to ultimately manage by exception and resolve issues expediently.
From these 3 initiatives, you can see that if you pick one, two or three workplace improvement goals and establish methods to meet them using staff and management alike, you will quickly learn who in your organization stands out as a leader and who works at status quo level. This alone makes the exercise worthwhile. Not to mention, you will improve operational efficiencies and achieve best practice success.
If you are attending Medtrade Spring, make sure to stop by the Best Practices Panel discussion on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 1:45-2:45 in South Seas H, Mandalay Bay. Hope to see you there!
As the holidays approach and 2016 comes to a close, I am grateful to still call HME my home. Despite the challenges of the past year, I can say that I have been privileged to visit with many HME providers who are not only surviving, but thriving.
Some of the many best practices I have seen this year are related to finding distinguishing products, payers and services that differentiate one HME business from the rest. Whether contracting for capitated managed Medicaid rates, increasing hospice contracts, enlarging retail presence, adding automated functions that create additional efficiencies and more, the clients with whom I have worked are laser focused on securing their viability in the industry. They are constantly looking for ways to improve, unwavering in their need to grow and become insulated from third party audits and reimbursement issues. In many HME companies, the emphasis has been on developing leaders within the organization, ensuring that the company works to improve its staff productivity and accuracy through tangible goal setting and monitoring in a healthy work environment.
Of the dozens of companies I worked with this year, I noticed a significant increase in the desire to improve company culture. Upon request from many of these providers and others, I created a mentoring program for new and existing leaders to help establish and develop goals in a one-on-one format. Through this regularly scheduled call (weekly/bi-weekly), I learned from key stakeholders how to help them make marked improvement week after week, month after month. By meeting regularly with these core employees, we work together to focus on priority changes, establish goals and monitor results. I am more than impressed by the poise and dedication of these people and their improved skills in a few short months. For example, one of the leaders added a secret shopper project complete with their own Google survey and with the results, they pinpointed how they will enhance customer service. Another company's leader is working with a few select individuals to set goals for themselves and their staff. Through this exercise, they isolated the need to create a structured training program that extends beyond the 90-day probationary period. With each of these leaders, we recapped their 2016 accomplishments and generated a list of their top 3 goals for 2017.
This holiday season, you should do the same. Take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments, and take pride in your ability to make positive change. Take a step to look from the outside in at what you want to accomplish in 2017. Work with your colleagues to help them set goals and monitor results. Create standard levels of performance and measure progress. Last, celebrate the win!
Thanks for your business and I look forward to working with you in 2017.