Q&A: WIP your company into shape

Friday, April 26, 2013

ERIE, Pa. – As profit margins get tighter and competition heats up, providers need to focus on efficiencies, says Jim Noland, president of Presque Isle Medical Technologies. The provider has spent the last year implementing new processes and says his recent transition to a Work In Progress (WIP) system has changed everything.

HME News: What exactly is a WIP system?

Jim Noland: It’s a term coined to describe all the work that you’re doing from the assessment through delivery. We call each step in the process a “bucket,” like the evaluation bucket or the coding bucket.

HME News: Why is it important to keep track like this?

Noland: As a business owner, I need to know how much cash I’ll need for the next few months. To figure that out, I need to look at my WIP to know how much is moving through my pipeline. But it’s about more than cash flow. Without keeping track, things end up being in the work-in-progress state longer, because there’s no one accountable and there’s no way, as a manager, to audit this. 

HME: Would you say this process is a good fit for mobility?

Noland: You should say, what about mobility makes this absolutely required? Every case in complex rehab is different. You have maybe 500 different types of items that you can get that are all configured for that specific client. And they all get funded by different insurances in different manners. Every case is complex every single time. When you don’t have this type of system, you’re counting on every single employee doing his or her job amazingly well. 

HME: What improvements have you seen so far?

Noland: We reduced the amount of time needed to get through those work in progress states by over three weeks. The average time was two to three months that things were sitting in that state. It’s made us more efficient: Now we don’t spend an hour every day looking for charts. It’s a lot less stress for my staff. And all this means the consumers get faster service.