Get on board or be left behind

Friday, July 31, 2009

As I was reading this issue, I was struck by the number of technology-related stories. There are 10 of them, by my count. The Providers section, alone, has four, all on the main page.

That’s not even counting the Respiratory Special Report (see insert on page 13), which has its fair share of technology-related stories, too. One of those stories features provider Oxygen One, which has reduced the number of follow-up calls it makes to patients to discuss CPAP compliance and supply needs from 150 to 20 per month with pre-recorded call software.

Sure, there have been technology-related stories here and there in HME News before, but I don’t ever recall having this many. In the August 2005 issue of HME News, for example, I was hard-pressed to find one technology-related story. The lone ranger: “e-CMNs still looking for traction.” Not so promising.

There’s no doubt that, as a culture, we’ve become technology-crazed. (A sign of that: Oprah Winfrey recently challenged two families to disconnect from technology - cell phones, computers, TV, video games - for one week.) But I don’t think most of our readers will be insulted by what I’m about to say: Traditionally, the HME industry has been slow to adopt technology, or at least as it relates to their businesses.

Apparently, that’s not the case anymore. In fact, providers like Premier HomeCare aren’t just implementing technology; they’re trying to squeeze every bit of juice out of it (see story on page 19). Premier first implemented GPS to increase employee productivity and decrease gas costs, but now it wants to analyze reports from delivery technicians and sales and marketing staff to determine where it might want to open a new location. CEO Jeff Knight says: “If we see that 45% of their trips are in Louisville, then maybe we should have a location there.”

Providers like Dasco Home Medical Equipment aren’t just happy having an online presence. They’re tweaking their Web sites constantly to improve their number of page views (see story on page 19). After it started tracking key word searches and updating content monthly, Dasco’s page views went from 3,888 in 2008 to 8,965 in April 2009.

What providers like Premier and Dasco are doing - now that’s promising.

When it comes to technology, I wonder if the HME industry has reached a “tipping point”? That’s what author Malcolm Gladwell describes as “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”

That’s what we describe, here at HME News, as a wake-up call. Get on board or be left behind.