Which is it?


I prefer working within the constraints of absolutes (just ask Liz when it comes to firming up layout guidelines for the HME News issues) and often struggle with ambiguity.

Which leads me to politics—a topic I broach with much trepidation. I try to avoid politics when I talk to providers on the phone, because it usually amounts to a lot of soapboxing and a lot of “yups,” “uh-huhs” and “yeahs” from me—whether I agree with the speaker’s view point or not—until I can redirect the conversation back to the topic I called about. However, this is one thing I think we can all agree on.   

Politicians on both sides the aisle LOVE jobs. In fact, I don't know of a politician who doesn't love jobs. They love talking about jobs, they love creating jobs, they love arguing about who loves jobs more.

Yet, this is the No. 1 message from lawmakers and CMS to healthcare providers: STREAMLINE. STREAMLINE. STREAMLINE.

That’s because lawmakers only seem to love jobs when the government doesn’t have to pay people to do the jobs they say they love so much, like respiratory therapists and wheelchair technicians.

I recently spoke to Andrea Ewert, CEO of Home Oxygen Company, who said the company had to lay off “three or four full-time employees and replace them with four or five part-timers” when the second round of cuts took effect on July 1.

In an effort to streamline its business, the company has employed nearly 20 technologies, including Brightree’s document management systems, Strategic AR’s patient receivables software and Apacheta’s mobile solutions. Ewert also uses portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) as her main product line and, as a result, has no need for vans, drivers or deliveries. 

Nowadays, providers need to work more efficiently for less money, and automate any process that can be automated.

I’m not knocking providers who embrace automation—in fact, they can’t afford not to—and I won’t pretend patients don’t benefit from automated processes either.

But lawmakers can’t have it both ways. So, which is it? Jobs or automation?