Talking tech with Ridenour

Sunday, September 30, 2007

When it comes to implementing technology into their businesses, HME providers often stumble, says IT consultant Duane Ridenour, director of implementations for Universal Software. He talked to HME News recently to discuss how providers can get the most out of the technology they purchase, namely, how they can increase cash flow and profitability.
HME News: On a scale of one to 10, how are providers doing at incorporating technology into their businesses?
Duane Ridenour: When it comes to incorporating it, I’d say they’re at a six or seven. But providers often buy a technology package and don’t end up using it to its fullest advantage. When it comes to implementing technology, I’d say they’re at a four.
HME: What types of technology are most critical for providers to consider?
Ridenour: I think providers need to look at drop-shipping capabilities, where an order is sent immediately to the vendor and notification of shipping and delivery returned electronically. Also, I think providers need to look at software that generates electronic POs, so that POs are automatically issued when inventory gets low. On the claims side, providers can do secondaries electronically. Many are doing Medicare and Medicaid electronically, but aren’t taking that next step.
HME: How are technology vendors doing at supplying the products HME providers need?
Ridenour: I think vendors are doing a decent job. Where it really breaks down is the provider’s need vs. what the vendor provides. For instance, providers who say “I’m looking for a Windows program” may get a package that looks Windows-based but is written in a different language. This may be OK for some providers but not for others. Providers need to understand the language vendors speak. They may all be talking in different terminology, and unless you dig a little deeper, you may not get the answer you’re looking for.
HME: What misconceptions do providers have about applying technology to their business?
Ridenour: The biggest misconception is that technology’s going to solve all their problems. For instance, a lot of providers are implementing document imaging software. They scan everything and then say, “What do I do with all this paperwork? Well, I might as well file it.” So now they’re adding an extra step of scanning everything and they’re less efficient than they were before.