Miriam Lieber’s 2020 checklist for HME

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Monday, February 3, 2020

A New Year’s Resolution is “a promise to do something differently in the new year,” according to Merriam Webster.

For the HME Industry, a few ways “to do something differently” in the new year and in the new decade, might include one or more of the following:

Software: Implement one or more new software initiative(s) that help you streamline the order-to-cash process. For example, mobile delivery and auto pay are software initiatives that have contributed significantly to improving cash flow for many HME providers.

Payer partnerships: Evaluate payer relationships to a) ensure you are being paid as delineated in your contract, b) you are constantly in communication with your contacts, c) you meet regularly to continue to show your value in keeping costs in line, and d) both parties feel the contract relationship is a good one.

Financial terms: Secure all financial arrangements up front, including private/self-pay, and all third-party payment that requires you to collect a co-pay. As more patients opt for managed Medicare (Medicare Advantage plans), staff will need to know when you are and are not contracted with a specific plan, etc. Further, as more patients pay cash for their products, upfront payment (and auto-pay for subsequent rental months and supply replenishment) should be a requirement. Making financial decisions prior to rendering service is a must to avoid uncollectible receivables.

Right people, right seats: Ensure you have the right people in the right seats on the bus. Assess your staff to be certain they are poised for changing roles within the company and industry. Having the wrong person in a position can be detrimental to an entire team and staff. Conversely, the right leader in a department can make all the difference in the success of your company. As needs change, so too will tasks and staff positions. Personnel needs today may be entirely different in a few months, especially as you ramp up for 2021’s competitive bidding round.

Competitive bidding: Be prepared for competitive bid results—simulate a bid awardee result, as well as a non-awardee outcome. Create a plan for either scenario and the various options. Being prepared should help you focus on your company’s strategic direction for 2021 and beyond.

Data to prove value: Use data and metrics to illustrate the value you add to patient care. After all, value-based care is common terminology today, if not an expectation by the payer and referral communities. Hospital readmission rates are a key measure for payers and health systems. As an HME provider, you can help reduce readmission rates and increase your overall value. Use data to show this outcome and realize that data is today’s tool for success.

Revenue cycle evaluation: Evaluate the order-to-cash process regularly to determine if there are ways to streamline the operational flow. Use staff to help with the analysis. Then document and train staff accordingly. Tightening internal control and expenses can make the difference between a profitable and unprofitable HME business.

Manage from reports: Always measure and monitor via reports to ensure you are maximizing productivity and results. For example, set goals based on average time to complete a task, such as order intake, documentation retrieval, etc. Set minimum standards and measure against them. Once you have a PAR performance level, set goals accordingly. Regular and stretch goals are a great way to motivate staff to improve performance.

Develop leaders: Focus on ways to build and develop leaders from under you. Once you have a leader, it is the leader’s job to train someone to take their place. A real leader is always looking to pay it forward so they can help others move up as they move up themselves.

Show appreciation: Celebrate the wins. Make sure staff feels appreciated for a job well done. Genuine praise for an accomplishment travels far. Make it contagious so everyone wants to receive the praise of those who already merit it. Those who don’t find favor in this will either leave or rise to the occasion.    

Say no: When you know a contract is not profitable, say no to the business rather than risk losing money. Stop taking poor referrals or ones that waste your time. This requires you to track your business by contract and/or by referral source.

Stay diversified: Stay nimble by not relying on one payer for all of your business. Conversely, with the extensive knowledge of guidelines and requirements expected by each payer, it is impossible to be everything to everybody. Too many or too few product offerings and payers make the business unsustainable.

Miriam Lieber, president, Lieber Consulting LLC is a business management consultant. She and her team offer on-site engagements to help improve operational efficiencies in the revenue cycle. They also offer remote coaching and mentoring for all levels of leadership. Miriam can be reached at miriam@lieberconsulting.com.