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Learn how HME automation has evolved

Learn how HME automation has evolved

Joey GrahamDALLAS – Technology–specifically information technology–has become the lifeblood of the HME industry, enabling providers to gain more control over their businesses, their patients and their future. It can be daunting to understand and harness the myriad functions, applications and operations of the digital universe, even for those who have been immersed in it for years, which is why Medtrade has made it a focus of its education program. 

“Providers need to approach technology with an understanding of what they are trying to solve,” said Bruce Gehring, senior vice president of business development for Overland Park, Kan.-based Allegiance Group. “They need to know what their current performance is and identify the specific areas that are targeted for improvement. Then they need to determine how technology will impact the performance to achieve the expected improvement they have identified.” 

‘Ripe for improvement’ 

Gehring and Joey Graham, executive vice president and general manager of Charlotte, N.C.-based Prochant, have teamed up to explain how providers can leverage IT to their advantage in the seminar “Using Automation to Improve Your Patient Experience.” The session focuses on revenue cycle management, a critical process in which automation serves as the catalyst and points the way forward, Graham said. 

“There are several areas of the HME revenue cycle that are ripe for improvement – data entry, benefits eligibility verification, prior authorization management, automated confirmation and billing and automated denial are a few that come to mind,” he said. “We believe the future of health care revenue cycle includes significant automation and switching the role of people from managing the work to managing the exceptions, with the vast majority of the work being handled by bots and other AI (artificial intelligence)-enabled automated systems.” 

Assessment is key 

Understanding the provider’s workflow requires an assessment of internal processes to ascertain how technology will integrate and maximize performance, Gehring said. 

“Formulating sound policies around best practices using the technology is critical,” he said. “It is a waste of resources to deploy the technology or engage services without a plan to train, monitor and measure performance of the team members responsible for making the systems work effectively.” 

To illustrate, Gehring said a company can have software that has “all the bells and whistles needed to drive revenue, but if patient demographic and payment information is not captured at intake, the opportunity for guaranteed payments and billing cost reductions are lost and you are stuck chasing a bill.”   

Technology frontier 

Outside of the revenue cycle, Graham points out other areas where technology has driven significant improvement in an HME business. Two segments are automated inventory tracking and patient-specific applications. 

“The technology exists today to eliminate barcode scanners and manual inventory counts and move to automated inventory tracking using RFID and Bluetooth,” he said. “It will help HME providers finally achieve the perpetual inventory dream we’ve had for years.”


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