ProviderLink eases eCMN growing pains

Thursday, March 31, 2005

CARY, N.C. -- CMN hang-ups drove Robb Hutchison crazy when he ran an HME company. Now as vice president of sales and marketing for ProviderLink, his mission is to make the CMN situation more bearable for both sides.
"I had friends who were doctors and still couldn't get them to sign and return CMNs on a timely basis," said Hutchison, who from 2000-03 managed Modern Medical, a respiratory and durable medical equipment provider in Greensboro, N.C. "They just have too many other workflow issues going on to notice a stack of CMNs waiting for their signature."
But with MMA enactments right around the corner, providers can no longer afford to continue letting these gaps inflate their DSOs, Hutchison reasons. His company ProviderLink has developed a system that simplifies the exchange of CMNs between HME and doctor.
ProviderLink converts an electronic message that travels over the phone line into the physician's fax machine. When it is faxed back to the provider it is converted back into an electronic format.
"The beauty of it is that our physicians don't have to be online to communicate and that has led to really great turnaround times," said Kathy Rausch, ProviderLink's HME market manager. "With our system the physician is alerted when there is a signature-ready CMN coming in via the fax. The doctor physically signs it, faxes it back and it comes into the provider attached as an accepted faxed signature with an audit trail, as required by HIPAA."
Although ProviderLink's system has been mainly marketed in the Southeast, Rausch and Hutchison said they have gotten a lot of inquiries from other parts of the country and are ready to roll out the system nationally. Because physician offices are still paper and fax-intensive, the system is an effective transition for providers using automation tools to streamline their communications, they said.
"Doctors are still more enamored with paper and adoption of e-CMNs has been very slow," Rausch said. "They will become e-savvy eventually, but right now there are physicians in rural areas that aren't even online yet."