The key to longevity in a rapidly changing HME/DME market

HME providers know firsthand the challenges of running a business in a volatile market. From competitive bidding to outcomes-based reimbursements, today’s HME knows the importance of finding new ways to be competitive, relevant and ultimately, survive, in these challenging times.

The key to longevity for HME providers is interoperability. Simply put, interoperability is the extent to which systems can seamlessly exchange data, interpret, and act on that shared data. In our industry, this 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.

Here’s how interoperability can work for you:

Stay relevant – Eventually, referral sources will have a choice to make. Do they send their referrals to the HME who uses paper forms or outdated technology, or do they send their referral to the HME that is able to bi-directionally share data, automatically and accurately? The choice won’t be hard for referral sources to make. Interoperability is already impacting other areas of healthcare, and HMEs that embrace it will be in a better position to compete and serve patients and referral sources.

Streamline operations – The automatic flow of important data between all parties can save time and money, not to mention enhance operational efficiency. Removing manual processes from the equation allows HMEs to have confidence in the documentation being submitted and received, the quality of patient care and the outcomes transmittal back to the referral source and beyond.

Increase referrals – Referral sources are moving towards transmitting electronic referrals through their EHR systems. The benefits for the HME provider are realized when the provider can receive referrals and related documentation electronically into their own system. The HMEs that develop strong relationships with physicians through interoperable platforms can significantly increase sales and market share, ensuring future business prosperity.

Strengthen referral relationships – Traditional referral relationship building methods can be labor-intensive, like having staff make countless phone calls or in-person visits. The use of electronic collaboration does much more to keep HMEs locked-in with referral sources. As physicians are increasingly expected to communicate electronically and bi-directionally, HMEs will be, too. By becoming interoperable, an HME will be viewed more as a partner and not simply a commodity.

Increase in reimbursements – Interoperability helps providers across the healthcare continuum have visibility into patient’s records, treatments and outcomes. This increased, consistent visibility can facilitate better patient care, in addition to more complete and accurate documentation. The more thorough the documentation submitted to payers is, the greater the chance of a full reimbursement, which is ever-important to the HME.

Embracing interoperability is not an option. It is imperative to the future of your business. As a provider, you must have a clear understanding of how your business fits into the dynamic healthcare ecosystem, and you must use a strong technology platform to succeed in this new interconnected world. The HMEs who act now will succeed, reaping the rewards that early adopters enjoy. Those that continue to operate in ‘business as usual’ mode will be left behind or put out of business. It’s time to get busy!

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