5 Essential questions all HME business owners should be asking

With all of the challenges facing the HME industry today, providers must examine their business performance in all operational areas in order to increase efficiency and maximize profits. To best navigate the turbulent landscape, HME business owners should start by asking themselves these five questions:

1. How can I generate new revenue? With reimbursement cuts and shrinking margins, it’s critical that HME providers make a concerted effort toward finding new ways of generating revenue. Consider patient resupply, for example. Many profitable HME providers are beginning to use technology to launch automated, intelligent patient contact campaigns to reach the right patient at the right time with the right product. In addition to saving more time per order and increasing communication with their customers, providers have been able to increase profits by thousands of dollars per month as a result of automating their resupply program. Another area to explore is optimization of the patient collections process. Patient bills now represent a significant portion of the overall profitability of the typical provider. In today’s environment, you can’t afford to ignore collecting this money. You personally would never walk into any business expecting to walk away with free goods and neither do your patients. Consider developing an upfront payment policy for your patients, which will help your business improve profitability, increase efficiency and allow your billing staff to concentrate on higher payoff activities.
2. How can I have better visibility into my business performance metrics? Successful HME providers rely on data to make timely, well-informed decisions about their business operations. By leveraging intuitive dashboards and tracking your metrics against key performance indicators (KPIs), owners can gain the visibility necessary to make sound business decisions and identify where workflow bottlenecks exist in order to ultimately increase efficiency.For optimal visibility, HME owners should seriously consider investing in a best-in-class software platform that offers both an executive dashboard and a business scorecard. An executive dashboard provides trending data over an extended period of time. A business scorecard, on the other hand, provides a snapshot of where the business stands at that moment in time.
3. Should I outsource my insurance billing? Many HME providers struggle with low collection rates and high costs to collect insurance reimbursements. Partnering with the right billing services vendor can help providers increase collection rates, get cash in the door quicker (lowering DSO), improve reimbursement through improved claims quality and audit readiness, and allow them to focus internal resources on patient care and company growth.Outsourced billing allows for a purely incremental expense structure for the billing operation and eliminates excess, fixed personnel costs during slow seasonal periods (e.g., deductible season). It also offers protection from staff turnover and periodic absenteeism, which can result in transaction backlogs and reduced cash flow.
4. How can I strengthen relationships with my referral sources? Interoperability has been an industry buzzword for years. Simply put, interoperability means being able to share electronic information between referral sources, payers, manufacturers, distributors, and others in order to improve efficiencies, and deliver better outcomes and patient care.More and more referral sources are embracing the transmission of electronic referrals through their EHR system. In the near future, it may come down to physicians opting to send referrals to interoperable providers which are equipped to accept electronic referrals, request eSignatures, and automatically share patient data and outcomes easily and thoroughly. Now is the time to implement a strong technology platform to succeed in this new interconnected world. The HMEs who act now will succeed, while those that continue using legacy technology may be left behind or put out of business.
5. How can I be better prepared for audits? HME businesses face increasing numbers of pre- and post-payment audits, which can be very stressful and costly. Without a sound strategy and technology platform for maintaining accurate and retrievable documentation, an audit request can disrupt operations and put your organization at financial risk. Look for a software solution that proactively seeks and adds the right documents to each claim and electronically sends audit responses using the latest esMD protocols. Beyond improving efficiency, the right technology can help providers maintain a strong cash flow by resolving audits quickly and accurately.

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