As accreditation and competitive bidding force providers to consider how they can fine-tune their back office operations in order to maintain margins, many are looking to HME software systems as a solution.
While running on-site systems and servers makes sense for some providers, many are considering hosted systems that they access over the Internet as an option.
The two major reasons for that are money and time, says Jay Williams, national sales manager for QS/1 Data Systems, which provides both hosted HME systems and systems providers install on-site.
“A huge advantage of the internet versions is that you don’t have to keep buying the latest computers or the latest version of windows,” he said, adding that Internet systems also backup data for providers, another important benefit.
That back-end maintenance is key, agrees Brian Williams, director of sales and marketing for CAU Inc., another provider that produces online and on-site systems for providers. CAU’s Williams says that besides the convenience of having a hosted system run backups and automatic upgrades to a system, that stored data could be critical in the case of disaster recovery.
In fact, that is a key feature that attracted member service organization VGM Group to hosted system provider Brightree, which just announced a 10-year partnership with VGM. Stored backups were shown to be exceedingly important during Hurricane Katrina, when a significant number of VGM members in affected areas were able to continue billing, since their data systems were remotely hosted by Brightree, says Ron Bendell, President VGM & Associates.
“That really pointed out the importance of having a Internet based system where data is stored in other parts of the country,” he explains.
Another benefit is automated incorporation of regulatory and funding changes says Brightree President and CEO Dave Cormack. Cormack describes Brightree’s software as an “ecosystem” that ties together providers, their partners and billing companies and payors that integrates changes in the funding landscape as they happen.
“Suffice it to say that outsourcing is a big issue,” Cormack says. “The biggest thing we’re hearing from the providers is ‘I want to focus on patient care and growing our referral basis. Competitive bidding, updating pricing tables, etc. — it’s engulfing us.’”
Naturally, a hosted system makes a lot of sense for those providers. With Internet access nearly ubiquitous and patient data secured by heavy encryption, the ability to run your business from virtually anywhere also has appeal, CAU’s Williams says. “You can log in from anywhere – from the home, from the library, from the coffee shop,” he says. “I believe this is a trend that will continue. The software as a service model seems to be taking hold in many industries.”
To learn more about HME provider software options read the April issue of HME Business magazine.