HMG to offer e-CMNs by month’s end

Sunday, November 30, 2003

MT. VERNON, Ill. - The Healthcare Management Group (HMG), a partnership between Medline and Physician Filing Service that provides an online suite of reimbursement services for HME providers, plans to go live with its e-CMN service at the end of this month.

While the already established e-CMN companies use digital certificates and encrypted technologies to authenticate signatures, the doctor who signs an HMG generated e-CMN actually signs his name, in his office, on an $80 signature pad.

The service is available only to HMG customers. The on-line reimbursement specialists now manage billing issues for 300 subscribers.

Users begin HMG’s e-CMN process at the company’s Web portal, www.ask During order intake, pop-up questions guide a clerk through the order entry process, ensuring that referral sources answer all the right questions to qualify the patient for the desired equipment.

Immediately after intake, the HMG system populates the appropriate data fields and creates a CMN in about 30 seconds.

“The only thing the user has to identify is what needs to print in section A and what needs to print in section C,” said Melissa Harris, president of HMG.

The e-CMN is e-mailed to the physician, who authorizes the order by writing his signature on a proprietary pad provided at no cost by the HME provider, and routes the e-CMN back to the HME.

When a physician registers to process HMG’s e-CMNs, the doctor must sign his name on the pad seven times. By measuring certain characteristics of the signature, including weight, pressure and scrawl, the physician records an identity that’s used to verify all subsequent e-CMN claims.

The signature pad costs the HME supplier $80, but a provider can supply that to a physician for free, said Elizabeth Hogue, a healthcare attorney, who has validated the legality of the proposal.

“We got guidance from the OIG that says when you give physicians equipment which is not multi- or general-use, like a fax or computer, it’s OK,” she said. “As for the Stark laws, they say that as long as what you give physicians is not worth more than $300 per year, it’s OK.”