'Nickels, dimes make quarters'

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CATSKILL, N.Y. - Provider Jim Clark has dubbed 2007 "The Year of Technology" at Clark Respiratory & Medical Supply.
Clark is the first to admit that the company hasn't made technology a priority in the past. Enter the 36-month cap on Medicare reimbursement for home oxygen therapy, however, and Clark Respiratory is now looking to use several technologies to reduce expenses, particularly payroll, which eats up about 36% of its gross profit.
"All of a sudden, we have to figure out a way to make a profit without an infinite amount of revenue," said Clark, president.
First up on Clark Respiratory's technology to-do list: incorporate 50 home transfilling units into its product mix. The units will help the company reduce deliveries from up to twice a month to once every six months at a savings of about $30 per delivery, according to industry estimates.
In late January, Clark Respiratory's delivery technicians began handing out literature on Sunrise Medical's iFill to the highest-utilization patients.
"We're focusing on the unit's freedom--freedom from waiting for us to deliver tanks, freedom to have as many tanks as they want," Clark said. "It's not going to be easy, because for a lot of these patients, the delivery tech is the only person they see. It's their event for the day."
Clark Respiratory will still have regular contact with patients who opt for the home transfilling units, Clark said. They'll be on a frequent-call list, so the company can ensure patients are using the equipment properly and safely, and it can answer their questions.
In addition to reducing deliveries, reimbursement for home transfilling systems like the iFill increased about $20 a month for 2007.
"Nickels and dimes make quarters," Clark said.
Also on the company's technology to-do list for this year: implementing a document imaging system and working with manufacturers that barcode their products (not just the boxes they come in but the products themselves, Clark said).