Do patient follow-up like a 'Pro'

Saturday, September 30, 2006

WATERLOO, Iowa - The VGM Group realized right off the bat that its new VGM Pro software could tackle much more than just follow-up with CPAP patients.
"It took us about five minutes to realize that any kind of a service that a provider can give, any kind of equipment he can do--everything from respiratory therapy follow ups to rental equipment--can be put into VGM Pro," said Product Manager Joel Valenti.
That's key because, according to VGM, roughly 90% of providers do little or nothing to track patient needs. That means they're leaving a lot of money on the table, not to mention doing less than everything possible to ensure compliance, say industry watchers.
VGM Pro's HIPPA-complaint e-mail reminders aim to change that.
For patients who prefer to communicate via e-mail (and that number is growing all the time, even among seniors), automating the follow-up process saves providers time and money. It allows them to remain proactive with patient compliance (payers love this), track insurance reauthoriziation and identify potential problems with equipment quickly, Valenti said.
Equally important, VGM Pro offers providers the opportunity to make patients aware of other products that might benefit them.
"Once they have that customer, whether on CPAP or oxygen or whatever, using a follow-up methodology to make sure you are in front of the patient keeps them thinking of you when they are thinking about what they need around the home for equipment," said VGM's CFO Mike Mallaro.
Right now, VGM Pro is used primarily to check up on CPAP users, a notoriously non-complaint crowd, and to remind them to reorder supplies.
But within three years, Mallaro predicts, providers of all types will be saying: "I can't believe we didn't always do this."
MedSage Technologies has offered providers a similar patient management product, although one that uses a pre-recorded phone voice, since 2002.
"It's a labor saver," said John Durkee, MedSage's vice president of sales. "With our respiratory-med program, it reduces the staff time by 60%."
That's music to the ears of Helen Kent. The president of Progressive Medical in Carlsbad, Calif., has just begun to integrate VGM Pro into her business.
"The industry is being squeezed on all ends, and the more you can get off your employees desks by giving them the right tools, the smarter you are as a business person," Kent said. "I don't have to hire another person in the front office. That is the joy of it. We can still grow."