Provider Strategy

The Power of Analysis

Utilizing business analytics in the HME industry.

With the growing popularity of business analytics, companies are beginning to grasp the importance of one, seamless solution to ascertain the current state of business operations, as opposed to going through multiple, disconnected applications to create “mashed up” spreadsheets for comprehensive business analysis.

Business analytics, once overly-complex, time consuming and costly, have now become simplified and affordable, allowing business owners to make sense of the growing piles of data pouring in from a multitude of sources. For years, only large companies with vast resources have been able to harness the power of analytics and use it to improve their business through increased efficiency and profits. Today, new business analytics solutions, leveraging the same powerful and comprehensive tools, have become affordable and simple to use. This provides owners of small- and medium-sized businesses with a strategic advantage in running their businesses.

As business owners have come to realize, there can be such a thing as “too much information.” With the volume of data continuing to grow at unprecedented levels, owners are seeing two options: cave under the mounds of data, or use it as an advantage to analyze the business environment and refine it accordingly to help gain market share and drive profits.

While analytics has traditionally helped large companies, because of the evolving regulatory and competitive landscape, the HME industry can benefit like few others. Funding challenges such as competitive bidding, increased audits and other margin pressures are forcing HME owners to look for insights that will help keep their businesses accelerating and growing. In fact, these answers might already be within their own businesses through untapped business intelligence. The key lies in finding the means to uncover and unleash the pivotal data that lies trapped within the piles of information stored in providers’ business management systems. Unlocking the potential of this data can yield a fundamental business transformation. This is what business analytics is all about.

Business analytics provides HME owners with the ability to understand where their business stands in regard to the past, present and future. Current reporting tools are useful in that they allow managers to know what is occurring in the moment, but, unfortunately, they don’t have the capacity to forecast where the business is going.

Consider this in terms of driving a car by looking through the rear view and side mirrors only. You can see where you are today and where you have been, but it’s very difficult to see where your business is headed. Business analytics empowers HME owners to visualize their entire workflow on a single display, to immediately understand bottlenecks and to take corrective action. It also allows for the measurement and evaluation of key operating relationships to better plot future outcomes and make more informed decisions, while also improving regulatory compliance. The result is drastically improved competitiveness and profitability.

In short, business analytics is a diagnostic and predictive tool made up of three components — data visualization, predictive analytics and combined databases. Each of these components can be a useful resource by itself, but, when united, it creates a strategic business tool no HME business owner should be without.

Data Visualization

Over time, most users have come to accept that not only will every data source have its own stand-alone report, but they will most likely be difficult to follow and apply multiple interpretations. Businesses are beginning to embrace a dashboard interface as a way to visualize business performance in a streamlined fashion. But it goes beyond a basic display; true data visualization is dynamic and provides users with a vast array of options including charts, tables, data roll-up and multi-dimensional views of the same data with the ability to project outcomes.

Predictive Analytics

Having a sound grasp of past performance will always be helpful, particularly if good data is coupled with comprehensive visualization tools. Statistical analysis and predictive analysis are two elements that enable users to identify patterns or trends that drive business optimization and predict future outcomes. Predictive analytics allows the business owner to scenario plan the future and immediately understand business outcomes based on cause and effect relationships.

If you are considering payor mix changes, new retail expansions, product mix changes or the effects of competitive bidding with or without a contract award, business analytics will help you cut through the clutter and understand the impacts to your business.

Combined Databases

By combining their respective databases, including accounting, inventory, etc., HME businesses can have the ability to draw upon information from multiple sources simultaneously. Many reporting tools allow users to dissect a single database, usually the financial program, ERP, CRM or other operational tools, but only a few combine these databases to gain a holistic view of their overall business performance.

A business analytics tool is far more efficient than copying and pasting data into an Excel spreadsheet because it automatically combines information from multiple sources, including external data.

Ultimately, HME providers can overcome obstacles by applying a strong decision support tool, such as business analytics. The world has moved confidently into the information age, and the one thing businesses are not short of is information. Every two years, the amount of data an average organization stores literally doubles. Forward thinking companies need to embrace this reality now to not only anticipate and react to change, but reap the benefits of an evolving business environment.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Gregg Timmons is president and executive vice president of HME billing and management software company Brightree LLC (Lawrenceville, Ga.). For more information, visit www.brightree.com or call (888) 598-7797.

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