Sabrina Stewart-Mosley: Make drivers more efficient

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Even in today's GPS-powered world, you can still walk into the offices of many HME providers and find drivers sitting down with paper maps and a pencil, plotting out the day's stops. As a product manager for UPS Logistics Technologies, Sabrina Stewart-Mosley spends her days encouraging providers to consider new technologies that can make routing more efficient, helping to reduce costs and increase driver productivity.
She'll bring that message to Medtrade Spring with a session titled "How to Increase Routing Efficiencies," which will not only review new Web-based tools for routing and tracking, but also outline best practices for route optimization. Stewart-Mosley offered HME News this preview.
HME News: On a scale of 1-10, how are providers doing when it comes to routing efficiently?
Sabrina Stewart-Mosley: Providers who are still routing manually are probably at a three or a four. About 70% are still doing it this way. Smaller independent providers often feel they're too small to need a routing application. But it's very hard to incorporate manually everything software can provide, such as rush hour traffic models and accurate time window estimates. When we do a route test with new customers, 99% of the time we come up with a route that saves them miles and driving costs over their manual system. The average provider sees payback on the investment in one to two months.
HME: How would you describe best practices that the HME industry can apply for maximum routing efficiency?
Stewart-Mosley: I recommend a three-pronged approach: plan, collect and analyze. Create a routing plan based on real-world information. Collect on-the-road data-such as recording the length of each stop-and then analyze that data to make your route plan more accurate and real-world intuitive. Even if you don't have the ability to invest in a software application, following these steps will improve your routing efficiency.
HME: Is GPS an essential tool for providers or just a handy extra?
Stewart-Mosley: Using GPS with route optimization software increases its effectiveness. The provider can track real-time information about the driver's status and reroute them if traffic or other delays arise.
HME: What are some of the benefits of these technologies for providers?
Stewart-Mosley: Lowering fuel costs is the biggest one. But it also improves your customer service. You can give your customer more accurate ETAs, and you can better accommodate emergency requests. You'll also see greater driver productivity, less overtime and less wear-and-tear on vehicles with reduced driving time.
HME: If you could offer providers just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Stewart-Mosley: No matter how large or small your operation, taking steps to bring down costs through greater routing efficiency will be an advantage to your business. HME