2018 HME Business Handbook: MSO

How To Maximize An MSO's Education Offerings

Building a highly effective team requires education. How can an MSO membership help?

Today’s HME business needs to be able to quickly respond to new patient needs and healthcare market demands. This means they need smart, capable, flexible, and well-trained employees. And how do they secure that? Education.

Placing a priority on education within their provider business makes a ton of sense from a business standpoint. Education helps facilitate new employee onboarding, employee development, offering CEUs for your licensed professionals, and leadership training for career advancement. Moreover, ensuring you’re providing education within your organization leads to greater employee engagement, and that in turns leads to higher employee retention, which leads to better productivity and a healthier bottom line.

A highly effective and capable team will set your business apart from the competition when working with referral partners and different payers. Your business will more rapidly adapt to changing care requirements and will be a source of expert information on how DME can help different patient needs. That will pay dividends in terms of an improved reputation for expertise among referrals.

Fortunately, the industry’s member service organizations (MSOs) are here to help. They 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, as well.

ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENT

Besides helping your business operationally and strategically, remember that if you are billing Medicare, you are required to have your staff trained. Providers must educate their staffs because the funding environment demands it. Every provider of any size needs to have some type of employee training program in place in order to be accredited. Because 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.

WEBINARS & ONLINE COURSE

A great way to rapidly train both staff and management is through attending webinars. Online presentations that let attendees interact live with the presenters, as well as watch on-demand as a recording, webinars offer a highly flexible education option that doesn’t require any travel; they only need a computer and some free time. Typically these are presented by staff experts at the MSO, and heavily promoted to an MSO’s membership so that they don’t miss out.

A related option is online courses. Similar to webinars, online courses are delivered via the Internet and involve coursework presented on the screen, but they go much deeper and involve reading and sometimes testing. Moreover, they involve more interactive elements to engage learners and help them retain the information. Better yet, they can start and stop throughout the course so they can take it and learn at their own pace. This means the course doesn’t have to compete with the busy demands of the workplace.

While the courses can focus on industry-specific topics, such as billing and reimbursement, or courses for rehab technicians or respiratory therapists, some MSOs will work with providers to use their online education resources to conduct in-house training specific to a provider’s business. HME businesses can put up their own content. So, for example, a provider could upload its employee handbooks, require new employees to go online and read it read, and then quiz them on those materials to ensure they understand them. So, not only does online education help with the online learning part of it, but it helps with different HR and onboarding tools that they need.

LIVE EVENTS & CONFERENCE

MSOs also host conferences and events that can provide an excellent opportunity to take in-person courses. Annual conferences can serve as additional opportunities to learn. The education sessions can cover very specific, practical courses specific to different provider jobs, such as billing-focal or care-focal courses, but can also cover more strategic courses, as well. Topics can address new market opportunities, unseen legal and regulatory pitfalls, trends that can impact the HME market, and new technologies, to name a few. These events usually feature Competent speakers with fresh ideas and unique conference themes.

Similarly, many MSOs will conduct traveling conference “road shows” that conduct special one-day conference sessions on a very specific topic, such as audits or retail sales, for example. The MSOs stage these events in regions with high concentrations of providers, and are hosted at locations that are within driving distance so that providers don’t have to accrue heavy travel costs. Best of all, these events are sometimes open to non-members at a fee, which gives providers that might be considering a membership a chance to sample their educational “wares,” so to speak.

PEER-TO-PEER EDUCATION

Let’s not forget that one of the biggest advantages of MSOs is the opportunity to network with other providers and industry professionals. The industry’s MSOs provide a variety of networking opportunities that let members interact with their fellow HME professionals all year long. In fact, networking is perhaps the one of the most important and least considered benefit of MSO and buying group membership. The best way to learn new business strategies, operations efficiencies and approaches to patient care is to get them straight from your peers, and MSO networking offerings make that possible.

Usually, at the larger conferences hosted by the MSOs, there’s time to relax at special networking gatherings such as dinners and informal social events. These offer solid chances to chat with providers, vendor staff and other industry stakeholders in a more social setting, and possibly create some new business relationships in the process.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Providers must train their staff, because payers such as Medicare require it, and because it is a strategic imperative.
  • Having a well-trained staff sets your business apart and raises its reputation with referral partners.
  • To help providers, MSOs offer a variety of education programs, and will event help facilitate a provider’s internal education.
  • MSOs offer a variety of webinars and online courses, as well as live conferences and traveling “road show” events.

LEARN MORE:

To learn more about the education benefits available from member service organizations in the industry, visit The MED Group at medgroup.com, The VGM Group at vgmgroup.com, and Essentially Women (now a division of VGM) at essentiallywomen.com.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of HME Business.

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