AAHomecare proceeds deliberately with e-CMN

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Saturday, November 30, 2002

ATLANTA - While AAHomecare leads the charge against nationwide competitive bidding, proponents of the trade group's e-CMN initiative are waiting in the wings, not without some frustration over the pace of development.

"Until such time as they are willing to put a third party management firm in place, this thing will proceed like molasses," said one critic.

All things in due time, says AAHomecare. "We're proceeding on the track as we'd discussed it earlier in the year," said Asela Cuervo, senior vice president of government relations and general counsel. "We're on track with that."

Earlier this year, technology executives at Rotech and Apria unfurled the blueprints of an open architecture system that would automate the CMN process. Ultimately, AAHomecare or a designated subsidiary would serve as gatekeeper to an e-CMN repository. The same company, or perhaps another, would supply various e-CMN components to the AAHomecare system.

Many companies are to expected to vie for the AAHomecare contract. One of them, perhaps, is Trac Medical.

In October, Trac Medical CEO Jeff Frankel and chief technology officer Terry Williams flew to Orlando to meet Rotech's chief technology officer, Albert Prast. Prast spearheaded the development of the AAHomecare white paper that opened the door to e-CMNs.

Until the October meeting, it looked as if Trac and AAHomecare would pursue mutually exclusive e-CMN products. Although there's no certainty that Trac and AAHomecare will cooperate on an industry-wide e-CMN solution, the meeting opens a door that's been shut.

While the meeting suggests to some that AAHomecare's advisors are finally admitting that building an e-CMN isn't as easy as it looks, others are saying that Trac Medical has finally realized it can't make its technology a dominant player unless it makes concessions to giants like Rotech and Apria.

And what would those concessions be? One of the sticking points between AAHomecare's initiative and Trac Medical's efforts involved the e-CMN respository. Trac is set up to warehouse e-CMNs for its clients. AAHomecare has expressed interest in owning the warehouse that stores the industry's e-CMNs.

Trac can see this happening. "From a technical perspective, we're not far from what AAHomecare has envisioned in a secure data repository," said Frankel. "We have some steps that need to be addressed in the process, but I don't think there are barriers to that process."

At Rotech, Prast is similarly encouraged by the progress made in his meeting with Frankel and Williams. He believes Trac is prepared to donate significant intellectual property, which could include the database, the encryption part, the API part and the document types that go into the back-end of an e-CMN.

"The goods news is we can all live and be happy, but if anybody tries to do [e-CMNs] themselves, it won't work," he said. HME

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