Information Technology

Your IT Check-Up

15 ways to get more out of your business' HME software investment.

HME softwareSoftware vendors interviewed for this IT supplement are unanimous: HME providers are not using their HME software to its potential. According to Kimberly Commito, Director of Product Management, HCS Division of Mediware Information Systems, statistics show that HME providers and healthcare providers in general use only about 60 percent of the automation available in their software solutions.

“Many times, additional features, such as electronic documentation, are not adopted initially because it is overwhelming to consolidate years of manual documents into an electronic format,” she said. “As a software vendor, we try to stay in touch via newsletters and announcements with our customers and continually point out key areas they could implement or assist them in implementing these features over time.”

David S. Golen, Vice President, Business Development, Universal Software Solutions, underscores the importance of education to get the most out of software. Both the end user and software provider play a role in continuing education for software use in critical HME Business operations, he said. Without education, management stops paying attention to how software is used and will accept excuses that the software is not capable, when it is.

With the demands placed on HME providers today, it is virtually impossible to survive and stay relevant without using software, said Dave Cormack, President and CEO, Brightree, who estimates that nearly all providers use software solutions to run their business. The broader concerns would be if they are using the right technology and getting the most out of it.

“For an HME provider, the environment is much more complex than ever before,” he said. “To combat reduced reimbursements and changing regulatory requirements, providers must streamline and automate every aspect of their business. We have invested heavily in our cloud-based platform and dramatically expanded our offerings in order to meet the changing needs of our provider customers. Our technology enables us to quickly respond with new solutions to ensure providers can thrive in this challenging environment.”

To help HME providers get the most out of their software, various industry software experts contributed to the following checklist for providers to use in determining if they are getting the most out of their software.

Dave CormackDave Cormack, President and CEO, Brightree:

1. Answering the question, “Does my software vendor act like a ‘vendor’ or a ‘partner’ that invests in my success? Use a vendor that provides a variety of education and training options. Make sure your software vendor offers online curriculum and instructor-led classes held in a variety of regional locations. For example, our online curriculum includes monthly topical ‘lunch and learn’ sessions; ‘learning lockers,’ which offer formally measured role-based courses; and a ‘content portal,’ which serves as an online quick reference guide on features, functions and best practices. In addition, we have a team of technical account managers charged with the singular goal of assisting our customers with maximizing their use of the system. This group routinely performs what we refer to as ‘health checks’ to identify operational areas for possible improvement. And finally, make sure your vendor has an online community that shares information.

2. Talk to your industry peers. The disparity of capabilities within HME software has never been wider. Providers should use industry events to speak with other HME providers to understand how wide this gap has become. Use these opportunities to learn what software system leading providers are using to streamline their processes and automate their businesses and ask them how satisfied they are with it.

3. Do more to keep what you’ve earned. Your software should support some level of payer-specific and HCPCs order validation rules. Set up those rules to ensure that your staff members can more easily deal with the myriad payer-specific rules to minimize denials and rejections that lead to delayed payments and increased audit risks.

4. Streamline your supply chain. Electronic purchasing from directly within your billing and business management system will become the norm in 2015, as it drastically reduces room for human error when orders are called or faxed in. Additional drop-ship capabilities will let you save money by reducing your inventory.

5. Future-proof your software investment. Much of the older generation software was limited in functionality and has not been improved much. In those cases, providers are likely using most of that software’s capability. So to get the most out of your software in the long term, providers should invest in a modern system that is able to keep up with future technology challenges. Cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology is much easier to use and is an ideal platform to seamlessly meet emerging interoperability challenges. Older generation client server-based technologies are very poorly suited to an everchanging, more interconnected healthcare environment and can be quite expensive to maintain and upgrade.

David S. GolenDavid S. Golen, V.P. Business Development, Universal Software Solutions, Inc.:

6. Analyze workflows and processes, and ask questions. Know what staff members are doing daily to see if processes in the software can provide a better, more efficient solution. Providers should engage their software vendor to discuss how software can provide solutions to reduce manual effort and better control HME business operations. Create an atmosphere where staff members can question every process and discuss why you do and what you do.

7. Create a ‘super user’ or assign a project manager to be the business operation software expert in your organization. This person would be the main point of contact for the software vendor. This way you are controlling information and making sure information is working its way through the organization.

Jon BellJon Bell, Market Analyst, QS/1:

8. Use your software report generator feature. Report generators produce information about how your business is fairing and areas that you can improve.

9. Use or add an electronic signature applications. This feature lets you capture the patient signature electronically for documentation purposes. Patients can often sign only once electronically for all of the required documentation and then you can reprint those documents with the signatures and dates.

10. Use or add an electronic document management module. This tool gives you the option to attach documents electronically to different records in your system. This increases efficiency by providing quick and easy access to documents based on the document you need to view or print out.

11. Use or add accounts receivable functionality. Essential for effectively tracking your outstanding payments as well as posting those payments to the appropriate transactions in your software, accounts receivable software gives you an opportunity to generate reports showing what is outstanding or to track the payments you have received.

12. Use or add an inventory management module. Inventory management software capabilities afford you the ability to know what standard and serialized items you have available for your patients, as well as produce and receive orders in your system to update your on hand amounts for your store from your wholesaler.

Kimberly CommitoKimberly Commito, Director of Product Management, HCS Division of Mediware Information Systems:

13. Know your software. Continually review the list of options and features in your application and ensure that your staff is aware of available features to support their daily processes.

14. Review Software Release Notes. Doing this thoroughly when new versions are made available will ensure that you are taking advantage of updates and keeping current on your application’s feature offering as it expands.

15. Provide feedback. Talk to your software vendor about industry changes and your perspective on those changes to ensure that software enhancements are prioritized appropriately for your software solution’s roadmap.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of HME Business.

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