Problem Solvers

GPS Goes Beyond Delivery

Leveraging GPS throughout company operations.

The implementation of GPS for HME delivery operations has proven a successful strategy for improving time management, cost savings and other business efficiencies. This precedent, along with today’s difficult reimbursement and revenue challenges, has prompted the use of GPS beyonddelivery operations and into other parts of HME businesses.

“From an economic standpoint, GPS is a relatively low investment with an extremely quick ROI,” says Robert Wagner, owner of HMEGPS, regarding GPS use in delivery operations. “Implementation consists of a 30-minute installation of the hardware in the vans, along with a driver meeting. From that day forward, efficiencies are delivered to the HME for $1 per day per vehicle.”

Stats for GPS use in delivery operations are well documented. Wagner says that on average, companies using GPS see a reduction in:

  • Overtime by as much as 100 percent in many cases, which equates on average to $250 per driver per month
  • The number of miles that are being traveled, which on average is about a 15 percent reduction and equates to about $220 per vehicle per month
  • Idle time, which can burn as much as one gallon of gasoline for every hour that the vehicles idles

With the success of GPS in delivery operations, the door has opened for GPS in other parts of the HME business. HMEGPS listened to its customers’ needs and MileageTraks was created.

“MileageTraks is a system that is designed to provide GPS management of employees who use their personal vehicles for business use,” Wagner says. “MileageTraks uses a portable, rechargeable GPS device. When employees are using their personal vehicle on company business, management has every right to gain the traditional efficiencies that GPS management provides. When employees are on their own time, however, management should not be tracking employee activities. MileageTraks patent pending technology provides this functionality.”

About a year ago, Connie Morrison, MBA, BA, director of Mercy Home Care – North Iowa, implemented the HMEGPS’s FleetTraks GPS system for her company’s delivery operations and MileageTraks for her nurses, who make home care visits with their privately owned vehicles. She recognized that mileage reimbursement was a huge expense for Mercy Home Care – North Iowa and the goal was to better measure and control it. What she experienced after implementing FleetTraks and MileageTraks was a snowball effect of efficiency reaching many parts of the company.

Mercy Home Care – North Iowa nurses are tasked with making home visits, which, before the MileageTraks system, meant inputting their daily activity in a log that was done by hand. The nurse would record who they saw, how long they were there, the type of visit and their mileage.

“They hated doing it,” Morrison says. “And a lot of nurses didn’t keep track of their mileage, and some just guessed. There were a lot of things that weren’t correct. So MileageTraks provides us with the ability to see where the nurse goes, and we download this information into a spreadsheet so the nurses no longer have to fill out those daily activity logs. We have all the information right there.”

The day’s information is automatically downloaded to Mercy Home Care – North Iowa and ready the next morning. Having the information quickly and in electronic format allows Mercy Home Care to bill faster than ever before. And according to Morrison, the nurses save on average about 20 minutes per day by not having to fill out the activity log. Morrison says that is an annual savings of $24,000, but in actuality it allows Mercy Home Care – North Iowa to increase their volume without adding staff. Morrison says they are averaging 19 additional billable visits monthly per nurse.

“We have a rule that nurses need to turn paperwork in within 48 hours but you always have those who take five or six days and you are waiting,” says Morrison. “But now that waiting is totally gone.”

After implementing the system in nurses’ and delivery vehicles, which today totals 25 GPS units, Morrison says she has seen a 7-percent reduction in mileage. Also, before GPS, Morrison says Mercy Home Care – North Iowa was dropping its first bill at 18 days. Now they are at five. Morrison says with all things considered, MileageTraks is saving Mercy Home Care – North Iowa about $61,450 per year.

Morale and safety

The one thing that is hard to measure is the peace of mind GPS offers by allowing people to know where you are.

“I had one nurse who made the comment that she didn’t know if she liked the idea of Mercy Home Care seeing everywhere she goes,” said Morrison “My response was. ‘I don’t really need to see everywhere you go unless you are clocked in and I am paying you. Then, I have every right to know where you go.’ She really didn’t have a response to that but the other nurses were just so happy they didn’t have to do the daily activity log. They also like GPS for safety reasons. My nurses are going into homes by themselves and should something happen, we know where they are.”

Being in a location having severe weather, Mercy Home Care – North Iowa drivers can experience unsafe conditions. During inclement weather, GPS can add extra comfort knowing people can pinpoint your location if something were to happen.

In fact, the one nurse mentioned who wasn’t keen on being tracked ended up changing her mind after a scary experience. During a bad storm she was at a woman’s home. She had left but decided to return to the home because of ominous weather that included possible tornadoes. The woman did not know she was back in the house and as the storm got worse the nurse found shelter in a center closet. She realized nobody knew she was there. But she realized that with the GPS, someone would have known where to look.

Ease of use

Unlike GPS in delivery operations vehicles, which takes on average 30 minutes to install, the MileageTraks equipment is simply plugged into a voltage receptacle on the car. When first using MileageTraks, Mercy Home Care nurses would use their laptops to login and turn on the tracking system.

Now, a simple cell phone call automatically starts or stops MileageTraks form recording GPS mileage and tracking the vehicle.

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Joseph Duffy is a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and a regular contributor to HME Business and Respiratory & Sleep Management. He can be reached via e-mail at jduffy@hmemediagroup.com or joe@prooferati.com.

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