Scott Herman: Empowered staff boosts business

Saturday, December 31, 2005

WICHITA, Kansas - When Scott Herman joined Home Medical Services last fall as president, he brought with him a management style that empowered employees to make decisions faster and better than ever before.
The result: Improved efficiency and a 22% increase in the number of oxygen concentrator patients.
"Decisions that, before, took weeks to filter up to the president's office are now resolved by employees in 30 seconds because employees are making decisions on point of contact," said Herman, who previously headed up the home health division at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Miss.
The 90 employees at Home Medical Services, which generates about $35 million in revenues per year, provide DME and infusion services at six locations across the state.
Herman's management style hinges on a decision-making tree based on "five pillars of leadership": people, services, quality, financial and growth. When faced with a decision, employees ask themselves: Is this the right thing to do? Will this help us to be the best in America? Does this serve our external and internal customers? Does this help us reach our 120% target? ("Every target is set 20% above; it allows for rainy days," he said.)
If employees can answer yes to all four questions, they move forward, and "we, as an administration, back them up," Herman said. If they can't, they take the more traditional route of seeking help from their supervisor.
"In our more rural areas--out in Western Kansas, about 200 miles from our main office--we have people making decisions," he said. "A patient came in with a prescription for a wheelchair and he had his oxygen bungeed to the back of the wheelchair. Walking through the decision tree, one of our drivers helped to switch him to something more portable and more readily available."