Optimizing Technology for a Better HME Business
HME providers’ long-term success hinges on regular technology education so that they understand the array of software tools available and how they can strategically implement those solutions throughout their businesses.
Choosing, investing in and adopting technology is a significant undertaking, but software alone won’t solve any problems. Both owners and employees should be ready to learn and optimize their new solution in order to maximize the initial investment, business impact and long-term value they receive.
The most successful implementations start with both owners and employees understanding which areas of their business technology can and should address, and as time goes on, staying updated on how that can evolve with new enhancements and offerings. This is especially important when working with a robust solution that can support multiple business processes, as these technologies offer and regularly add enhancements that deliver further value and address different challenges.
Becoming proficient in a new technology is not without its challenges though, especially when it means adapting longstanding business practices and processes. It may seem like a daunting task for most HME owners, who are focused first and foremost on running a business and providing care to patients. However, the time and energy invested into understanding and communicating how a new technology can fit into a business will pay dividends for years to come. The key to long-term success is in finding a training style that works best and utilizing available resources and professional services for continual support and education.
Why Technology Education Matters
Leading software solutions come with built-in functionality that apply to multiple business divisions and processes, such as resupply, documentation management and patient intake. If providers don’t take the time to learn those capabilities, they’re leaving money on the table and missing out on important opportunities.
Modern technologies are designed to do the heavy lifting by automating processes that have historically been performed manually. Taking advantage of automation allows providers to redirect their time and resources into caring for patients, while benefiting from improved cash flow and greater operational efficiencies.
For example, HME providers who automate their business and billing can reduce the amount of time to confirm/bill orders by up to 10 days, while lowering their Days Sales Outstanding by 7%. Utilizing an automated resupply solution can result in up to 37% greater revenue per order and 29% higher resupply revenue overall. When these solutions are used in synchrony, the impact is multiplied.
Effectively Managing Change
Long-term success with a new technology is first dependent on how effectively an organization can manage change among its team. The four most important considerations at the outset of any technology project are: identifying the goals, assigning and describing roles of key team members, outlining a project plan and devising a communications plan that keeps team members informed and engaged.
When it comes to implementation, it’s helpful to ease in with a pilot, implementing a solution for a select few or low-performing area first. Testing a pilot helps minimize risk, establish credibility and prepare for the remainder of the roll-out.
Once an extended roll-out is in motion, mandated company-wide training sessions ensure teams are on the same page and adept at using a new solution to its fullest potential. Offering different models for learning will ensure everyone can participate and excel. Once initial training is complete, team members should practice using technology in a controlled environment, completing given assignments and using repetition to reinforce trainings.
With hands-on training under their belts, team members will be able to confidently approach and integrate new technology into their workflows. This comfort and enthusiasm often translate to both faster and longer-lasting results, as team members successfully build on their foundational knowledge.
Taking Advantage of Available Training Resources
There are a variety of resources available to help providers and staff get the most out of their platform, including self-guided online learning, instructor-led training, forum-style discussions and on-site consulting services. Available options include:
- Online communities, which offer powerful opportunities for proactive learning and problem-solving. These communities, comprised of providers on the same solution, offer access to articles, learning resources, training videos, community forums, troubleshooting information and peer-to-peer discussions at no additional cost.
- Instructor-led training, which include opportunities for both self- and group study. Providers can consider one-on-one learning, group training classes or on-demand virtual classes with live instruction.
- Professional consulting services, which focus on helping organizations implement scalable, business-wide best practices to improve workflow and processes, increase revenue and manage costs. Here, a consultant works directly with an organization to review their business, optimize use of their technology and implement best practices tailored to specific goals.
The Power of Professional Services
Working with organizations of all types and sizes, consultants are able to leverage best practices witnessed across the industry and deliver a personal touch tailored to each business. While these services are often very fluid, popular programs focus on technology optimization, operational workflow analysis, billing and connections, intake, inventory, metrics, reporting and KPIs.
The high-touch nature of consulting services helps address a key challenge for most HMEs – a lack of time, which was true for PCG Medical, a Metairie, Louisiana-based urological supplier.
“Our software has all the bells and whistles and is frequently updated with new features,” said Micheline Stephens, P.T., sales manager, urology product specialist and business owner of PCG Medical. “But if all those bells and whistles aren’t captured by the people using the software, if the staff isn’t taking the time to learn what they need to know to make their lives easier, then you’re not going to fully capture the efficiencies.”
PCG enlisted the help of a professional consultant who had direct experience with both the technology solution and urology business. The consultant worked directly with PCG to streamline processes and identify areas for improvement across billing, intake, documentation, revenue cycle management and more. PCG is now running much more efficiently with significantly improved billing processes and revenue.
And in addition to saving thousands of dollars and dramatically increasing cash on hand by 31%, delivering more accurate and timely supplies allows Stephens and her staff to fulfill the company’s mission of ensuring the best outcomes.
“As a medical company, you have to be very careful that you're sending out the right supplies,” said Stephens. “A knowledgeable consultant can look at the problem and quickly provide the best practice. Now we have a workflow and safety measures to minimize mistakes and create a better patient experience.”
Consistency is key for sustained success. The range of available resources and services mentioned above are helpful tools for ongoing employee training as well. In fact, we find our most successful customers incorporate instructor-led classes into their annual budgets to ensure teams are able to capture new functionality for the greatest impact.
To stay updated, we also recommend providers keep an eye out for webinars announcing new technology releases, which is a common industry practice. These webinars give users the opportunity to receive training on new features and absorb potential implications for their organization ahead of launch. Many organizations find it useful to appoint a “Power User” to stay on top of these new developments and communicate relevant updates to the team.
Some technology providers also employ dedicated Customer Success Managers, who are responsible for providing ongoing insights, recommendations and best practices to support each organization’s goals. Customer Success Managers will also keep clients updated on relevant releases and recommend how to best implement them.
Implementing a new technology is a major achievement, but one that requires ongoing attention to maintain. However, the investment made in understanding a solution and staying up-to-date on new opportunities will benefit HME owners, their employees and their business for years to come.