Back to the future

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FLORENCE, Ala. – A couple of HME providers have developed an e-CMN system that, they say, has the potential to cut their days sales outstanding (DSO) by more than half, and now they’re offering it to the rest of the industry.

“We were developing it for ourselves,” said Wayne Lewis, HMEDOC’s vice president and a claims expert for Milner-Rushing Drugs and Homecare. “But then we said, ‘Hey, we could develop it and have other companies enjoy it just as much as we do.’”

That thinking lead Lewis and Jeff Lawson, Milner’s owner, to package their e-CMN solution, name it HMEDOC and unveil it at Medtrade in mid-October.

The duo’s timing could be fortuitous.

A few years ago, e-CMN was an industry buzzword. Developers and early adopters praised it as a way for providers to collect CMNs faster, speed up billing and improve their cash flow. No more spending weeks or even months tracking down CMNs before filing a claim.

That buzz, however, while never disappearing, faded, partly because doctors were reluctant to swap their reliance on the fax machine and hard-copy CMNs for the new electronic technology. Now, with the Obama Administration stressing electronic medical records as key to reducing healthcare costs, the e-CMN buzz has begun to return.

Over the past six or seven months, for example, Jaysec Technologies has seen a significant jump in demand for its e-CMN solution, said COO John Slautterback.

“DMEs are starting to look at it because they see that doctors are not as resistant as they were,” he said. “The doctors know they need to go electric to maximize their practice.”

Jaysec launched its e-CMN solution in 2004. Currently, 1,800 DME locations use it to process 4,000 e-CMNs a month, Slautterback said.

“That is just a small percentage of our customers’ doctors and a small percentage of claims, but it is growing,” he said. “Apria is using us tremendously, as is Lincare.”

Paul Skinner is vice president of sale and client solutions for Authentidate, which now has 100 HMEs using its e-CMN solution, Inscrybe. He agreed with Slautterback that the government’s push for healthcare efficiency has spawned new interest in e-CMNs. Additionally, he said, a generation of younger doctors has begun to emerge, and they are more Web savvy than many older physicians.

“Four years ago, the providers were keen on it and the physicians were indifferent,” he said. “I think that is rebalanced now.”

That’s the kind of talk Lewis likes to hear.

“If we had every doctor we use on this system—and right now we are going to visit with them and saying we have something we’d like them to try—we could have our DSO at 17 days (from 38),” he said.