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!