Efficiencies: Focus on processes, people

Q. With all that is going on in HME, where do I make changes first in my organization?
Friday, March 22, 2013

A. Right now, we are at an area of opportunity in HME. Some may think I’m off my rocker, but let me explain. Our customer base is increasing at record levels, private equity funds are rushing in and technology is creating more efficient ways for us to help our patients. Between CMS’s choice to reduce the number of providers and the commercial payer adjustments that will soon follow, I would place my focus on two major points inside of an organization.

First, focus on process. Many of us have learned to live with workflow that just isn’t efficient enough. It’s important to break things down into three major categories. First, we need to make workflow training and standard operating procedures (SOP) available to our teams, creating written accountability measures. Next, we should build task lists that are focused and direct. For example: On Tuesday, after our 1 p.m. billing meeting, we will work only AR past 60 days. Finally, metrics inside your organization are vital. These should be easy to understand and well published. Does a new member of your customer service staff understand why lacking an appropriate CMN will affect days sales outstanding after the paperwork leaves her desk? She should.

Second, make changes in people. This isn’t to say that we immediately reduce the size of our teams. It is to say that we must build accountability models that identify and grow strong performers, and replace those not dedicated to our respective companies and understanding our industry. It’s challenging to find qualified people, and, frequently, we are tasked to make a hire rather than recruiting and training appropriate personnel. Standardized processes also make it easier to identify these individuals over time. 

Health care is one of the last industries to undergo a revolution in our country. It is unfortunate that CMS is choosing to lead reform through HME’s small portion of total spending, but opportunity does exist for those dedicated to building agile and focused businesses.

Ryan McDevitt is a professional services consultant at Brightree. Reach him at mcdevitt@brightree.com or 678-243-1135.