Increasing Your Team’s Expertise
Many HME professionals know that member service organizations (MSOs) provide the power of group purchasing for businesses with limited buying power. Somewhat less commonly known, but growing in awareness, is the fact that MSOs also offer professional education programs, webinars and conferences designed to help HME professionals improve performance and stay current with new industry developments.
Some of the largest MSOs offer hundreds of courses with subjects such as customer service, patient confidentiality, compliance and billing and reimbursement. Many of the course curriculums are designed to prepare employees for future promotions within their company. MSOs often partner with vendors and industry experts to offer training on the latest products, technology and services available in the HME industry.
Continuing staff education and training are a requirement of all accrediting bodies and many regulatory agencies. MSO courses can provide the necessary IACET (International Association of Continuing Education and Training) CEUs, which can be submitted to many credentialing bodies such as NRRTS and RESNA for consideration.
One particularly useful MSO education offering for J&L Medical Services is online training. Co-owner Brian Mitchell purchased a customizable computer program from an MSO to use as part of his company’s new hire orientation processand to help meet the Joint Commission’s biannual training requirements.
New employees think they are accessing original training from J&L, since it is linked to the company website and called J&L University, though in actuality it isthe MSOs program.
“It’s all off of their platform, but if you go in through our website, it makes it look like we made this thing,” Mitchell says. “It’s very cost-effective, especially for people in the HME industry. We don’t get a lot of people with experience, so it gives a good base foundation for new employees before we give them more of the day-to-day training with a supervisor about the job responsibilities.”
Workshop and conferences
Traveling workshops, teleconferences and annual conferences also provide numerous opportunities for HME providers to take advantage of MSO educational offerings.
Mitchell says a roadshow he attended called “The Ins and Outs of National Competitive Bidding” provided thought-provoking information which eventuallybecame the foundation for what J&L used for the bid process.
“It went over things such as activity-based costing, their perspectives being more knowledgeable about what happens in the demonstration projects, the Round One, the Round 1.2 rebid,” he notes. “It really gave a more in-depth perspective than I would have known just by reading magazine or journals.”
Mitchell notes that it helps immensely when seminar speakers are more focused and in-tune with what the HME provider does on a day-to-day basis. That can help make one MSO stand out over another than may only offer seminars from industry consultants, rather than actual providers.
In addition, useful information can be gleaned from the speakers that MSOs send to the local state associations, such as NEMED (New England Medical Equipment Dealers Association).
“I count on them to let me know what is going on legislatively, not just from the bidding, but if there are new bills up for voting that we should be contacting legislators on (or) notifying our patients about in the industry,” Mitchell says. “They do a great job of just giving us the overview of what happened over the last three to four months. The whole bidding thing concerns, I think, every provider. We always look forward to hearing what’s the latest bill...the chances of a new bill passing. I think that’s huge for all of us.”
Annual conferences can serve as additional opportunities to learn. While the frequent bad news in the HME industry can lead to doom and gloom at some conferences, others are more opportunistic with networking opportunities and practical idea exchanges. Competent speakers with fresh ideas and new conference themes can lessen the repetitive nature of these yearly gatherings.
Keeping Staff Current
MSO education programs also can help providers ensure their staff stays up to date with new industry developments. J&L Medical has quarterly staff meetingsand monthly department meeting to keep staff informed.
“Say if I went to something on competitive bidding everybody here would know, whether it would be via email or department meetings, exactly what’s going on and more so the challenges that we face as the owners of the company,” says Mitchell. “We don’t try hiding things like competitive bidding or any of the bad news that’s in the industry. We go to them and say, ‘This is our problem. What ideas do you have to help us get through this as a company, so we not just survive, but thrive in this environment?’”
The ultimate benefit to MSOs education resources is the improvement in a provider’s reputation, bottom line and overall business. Taking advantage of these many resources can help keep a provider ahead of the curve in the industry.
Points to take away:
- With an MSO, a provider can not only take advantage of group purchasing power, but leverage educational services.
- Continuing staff education and training are a requirement of all accrediting bodies and many regulatory agencies.
- Providers can tailor MSO education offerings to use as an orientation to the industry for new employees or as part of continued staff development.
Educational tools from MSOs can help HME professionals improve performance and stay current with new industry developments.
Here are links for some key HME industry member service organizations:
The MED Group
The VGM Group
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of HME Business.