Apria signs for e-CMNs

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

COSTA MESA, Calif. - Two weeks after AAHomecare announced the launch of its new e-CMN initiative with Trac Medical and bConnected, Apria Healthcare signed a deal with Trac that should enable the country’s largest HME supplier to start transmitting e-CMNs by the end of this month.
Annually, Apria processes approximately 3 million CMNs and Written Orders throughout its network.

As one of two architects that insisted on a suite of standards for any industry-wide solution, Apria has been preparing to move forward aggressively with an e-CMN solution as soon as AAHomecare sanctioned a product.

Just how quickly Apria converts from paper to electronic CMNs, however, is uncertain since it takes two to tango.

“The doctors have to adopt it, and the only way they’ll adopt it is if it’s easy for them to use,” said George Suda, executive vice president of information services at Apria.

To promote pick-up by physicians, Apria has developed a program for its sales force to use in the field. The company will also upload information to its Web site.

For physicians, the inertia of moving from a paper-based system to an electronic system may loom large, but in practical terms, Trac Medical says it’ll take a physician’s staff about 15 minutes to complete the registration process and about a day for them to turn-around the application.

Currently, Trac Medical has certified about 1,000 physicians.

The vast majority of physicians approached by HME suppliers agree to move from paper to e-CMNs.

“To the best of our knowledge, about 90% of the physicians who are approached and introduced to e-CMNs end up registering,” said Randi Neal, vice president of operations at Trac Medical.

Oddly enough, part of the physician’s adoption involves printing a Trac Medical form, signing it and faxing that back to Trac. Once Trac runs the doctor through his credentialing service, he and any of his designated nurses will be able to complete Section B on the e-CMN.

Because e-CMNs automate one of the great stopgaps of an HME supplier’s business, the industry has long embraced the concept. Many believe the transition from paper to e-CMNs will realize significant cost savings.

Suda is drawn to the cost-savings, but moreover, to the efficiencies that e-CMNs engender.

“We figure that 30-40% of the CMNs we send out come back incomplete, or incorrect - something’s not filled out right, we got the wrong ICD-9,” said Suda.

With CareCert, internal edits don’t allow a CMN to be pushed through the system unless the form is filled out appropriately.

“From a physician s perspective, you’re not bugging them for the same thing more than once,” said Suda.