Documentation: A love story

Monday, February 25, 2013

I talk to a lot of HME owners on a very regular basis and one of the biggest challenges brought up time and time again is medical documentation. When I ask them why that’s so important, they typically tell me that their staff has a hard time getting doctors’ offices to send back signed medical documentation, which impacts revenue, cash flow and bad debt.

What’s shocking to me is that I never hear them saying what happened to that patient, which should be the most important thing.

When you fail to get paperwork back from a doctor’s office, there may be terrible things happening to somebody’s loved one or somebody’s life may be in jeopardy. Some child could be suffering from a debilitating disease and not being fed properly. Somebody may not get their ostomy supplies, so they’re going to wake up in their own urine, which happened to my dad before he passed away.

That’s why I think, when it comes to documentation, the most important thing we can do is to focus on the patient and the profits will take care of themselves.

Let me give you a little training exercise on how to get documentation signed and back a lot faster. If you train your staff to pursue documentation this way, you’ll get it back the same day. First, ask your team to show you how they make a call about documentation. Typically, the call will go something like this:

Your office: “Hi (person at the doctor’s office), this is Mike from (HME company) calling about Mrs. Sperduti. We sent over her paperwork for her supplies last week. Did you get the paperwork? Did the doctor have a chance to sign it?”  

Already, you know that the doctor did not sign it because, otherwise, you wouldn’t be calling. 

Doctor’s office: “No, he has not gotten around to signing it.”  

Your office: “Oh, OK, we’ll call you back in a few days if we don’t get it soon.”

Now, this is what I do when I train providers on this process. Have the same person act out this call again, but this time, first have them close their eyes and imagine someone they love more than anybody else. Typically, it’s a child, spouse or parent that will come into their minds. Now, ask how happy that person makes them. While their eyes are closed, make them really feel that love.

Once they are completely feeling it, tell them to think about this special person being critically ill, and that this person they love more than life itself is counting on them to get the supplies they need to make their life better and easier. They’re counting on them to communicate with the doctor’s office and get the needed paperwork back. If they fail, their loved one may have to go into the hospital or worse. Now, tell them to role-play and to make that phone call to the doctor’s office for their loved one.

This one simple connection, where we are focused in on the power of love and then associating the patient as a loved one makes the call so materially different it’s ridiculous. The energy, passion and commitment to getting this paperwork issue resolved is 1,000,000% higher than it was before. 

The secret to getting those signed documents faster is having your team treat every patient they are responsible for as if it were a loved one who needed the paperwork back today. Follow those simple steps and you’ll see that your people will be incredibly effective, your patients and their families will be happier and your bottom line will be healthier.

Mike Sperduti is president and CEO of Emerge Sales. Reach him at