Alpine throws tech at costs
SALT LAKE CITY – Alpine Home Medical Equipment’s motto is, “We bring wellness home,” but CEO Jay Broadbent admits that going the extra delivery mile hasn’t always been the most efficient task for the provider, which has seven locations in Utah and Idaho.
In the past, the company operated on a paper-based system. Patients routinely signed multiple papers for each delivery, creating an often-unwieldy stack for staff to manage.
“We could see the writing on the wall,” Broadbent said. “We had to be more efficient if we were going to stay in the DME industry.”
Broadbent used in-house developers to create mobile-friendly software allowing Alpine’s customer service staff to communicate in real time with drivers about delivery changes, while reducing the paper load for customers. The technology, which cost about $60,000 to develop, has been tweaked to add features and functionality. Today, Alpine drivers use an iPad to access the app.
As a result, Alpine has reduced its fleet of vehicles and drivers by one-third. It also is better anticipating the needs of its patients, thanks to software that can identify necessary equipment maintenance during a delivery visit. Customers also can purchase off-the-shelf products from the truck and pay on the spot.
“We became a better company,” Broadbent said, noting that each patient stop typically costs the company about $55.
Electronic signatures make it easier for customers, as well.
“They’re not getting a mortgage—they’re just getting medical equipment in their home for a time,” he added.
The transition to an electronic delivery system has greatly reduced lost paperwork, which can make a big difference when it comes to audits, said Jeff Dawson, director of operations for Alpine.
“In the era of audits, the less we touch paperwork the better,” he said.
The app has gone down for a short period twice in three years. Each time, the staff was reminded of the complexities of working the old-fashioned paper way.
“It’s something of value and we’re not at the point where we take it for granted,” Dawson said. hme