Latest Software Trends Address Business Needs, Put HMEs on Track for 2007
Here is Home Health Products'
surefire New Year's guide to stay on
target with your 2007 business resolutions. We have asked software
manufacturers to give us the skinny on how trends in technology can help your
Resolution: Get organized.
Software, the ultimate electronic bin, adds virtual shelving to your
accounting and client tracking needs. Shoe boxes are not the place for business
receipts, as any IRS auditor will tell you. But just how do you get control
over billing and invoices?
With software, organization is easy. Most, if not all, software systems
provide accounting modules to easily track incoming and outgoing revenues.
Other modules allow companies to include e-billing for easy client tracking.
"Our client's want software that is intuitive and 'smart' — that can
manage the different kinds of things they do on a daily basis," says Kent
Barnes, director of marketing, TeamDME!, Brentwood, Tenn.
"At TeamDME!, we are helping ease DME providers concerns by providing
multifunctional software that allows them to automate business practices so
they can reduce human resource expenses, basically doing more with less. We are
also helping providers who have carved out niches in the industry streamline
the business processes, creating custom solutions to solve their real world
problems," Barnes says.
But the key to staying on top of finances may just be in the unique
reporting features of some software. Jeneane Brian, clinical executive, Homecare
Systems, Misys Healthcare Systems, Raleigh,
N.C., says, "We are adding
new, innovative and unique clinical reporting that will enable agencies to best
allocate expensive resources (nurse specialists and monitoring equipment as
examples) to the patients who need it most."
Imagine your software as a crystal ball. With all of the data your business
produces on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis, software can help spot
trends and ultimately figure out where a business will be in the next few
Barnes says TeamDME! has focused on providing "a complete front and
back end management solution, so you (providers) can manage all of your billing
needs, plus you can easily pay your bills and produce your profit and loss
Resolution: Upgrade your system.
Like a good mobility system, today's software solutions offer the ultimate
in modularity — allowing customized software systems. So, if you've been
scrimping to purchase a brand-new, state-of-the-art system, put your pennies
back in the bank. Many programs offer upgrades that build on your current
system. The possibilities new for 2007 are endless.
"A recent poll showed that over 40 percent of the providers in the
study group were unhappy with their billing software and were looking to change,"
says Esther Apter, CEO, MedFORCE Technologies, Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.
And software manufacturers are taking note.
"Recent CMS guidelines, accreditation standards and billing changes
have made demands on the providers who in turn have challenged the technology
companies for answers," explains Apter. "Technology companies are
trying to respond to these changes as rapidly as possible. The old saying 'the
grass is always greener on the other side of the fence' is appropriate here.
Providers need to be cautious about changing to another technology provider
without giving their current provider an opportunity to evaluate the perceived
weaknesses and possibly resolve them."
Apter says providers want technology to automate processes, build revenue
and reduce human resource expenses.
Ed Kutt, president, DIABCO Medical Billing Systems, Delray Beach, Fla.,
says today's software understands the many workloads of an HME business.
"The majority of HME providers are looking for multifunctional billing
software systems," he says. As a result, software companies are expanding
functionality to allow software systems to grow with the HME business. Modules
encompass billing, inventory and much more.
Resolution: Get ready for competitive bidding.
The black cloud hanging over many providers, the National Competitive
Acquisition program, has put many HME businesses on edge. But with the help of
a few software solutions, businesses can get back on track for 2007.
"Mandatory accreditation and competitive bidding are big concerns and
will be a big issue in 2007," says DIABCO Medical Billing Systems' Kutt.
"Reductions in allowables, cash flow, and fast, maximum reimbursement are
the main topics discussed when clients contact DIABCO asking about our software
products. Our users agree that investing in efficient billing technology and
software is more important than ever."
Kutt says that for HME companies to survive, they will need to become more
efficient. Software can help a business do just that. "These tools have to
be jet-fast, powerful and easy to use," says Kutt.
"The fact is, you cannot relieve the pressure of growing daily
workloads by working harder and harder," he says. "We all have to
look for strong, supporting software."
"National competitive bidding and reimbursement cuts have been in the
forefront of every provider's mind for the last few years," agrees
MedFORCE's Apter. "Although the prospect of reduced reimbursement is not a
positive thought, it should be the needed incentive for providers to
self-examine their business practices.
"Many businesses are already running very lean and efficient offices;
however, effective business management is a lifestyle not a diet," she
says. "I think most home health providers will be utilizing this
opportunity to re-examine processes such as delivery, intake, billing and
collections, and other tasks that draw on resources to determine where
processes can be eliminated, automated or changed to reduce expenses to be able
to compete effectively."
Software helps prepare companies for the upcoming changes, agrees Karen Apa,
marketing director, SoftAid, Miami.
"With competitive bidding looming, mid- to small-size providers are
angling to carve out their own niche in the marketplace," Apa says.
"Most providers know that in the end good customer service wins out. The
goal now is to provide efficient, streamlined, cost-effective service while
meeting and exceeding customer expectations."
Software companies like TeamDME! are building software with accreditation
requirements built in. Barnes says software makes it easy for providers to
quickly deliver accreditation requirements.
Resolution: Cut costs on computer applications.
Tired of expensive servers, backing up data and the constant costs of
software programs? On-demand systems are coming into their own as more users
need programs that are accessible online. Now all you need is a modem to access
your files from anywhere your business takes you. And the bonus is that these
programs cut costs, too.
Many companies launched Web-based programs — software as a service programs
— at Medtrade, including DIABCO Medical Systems' AR-Express SaaS, Healthcare
Automation's HomecareNet On Demand and CAU's Solution/One HME SaaS.
Improve your bottom line with Noble*Express, a stand-alone software product
that provides Medicare patient eligibility information with deductable info,
HMO status, Hospice & Hospital dates and provides updated patient info.
"Information is instant, providing you with real-time data on your
patients' eligibility to receive your products and services. You can use
Noble*Express with any billing software. Providers are enamored with our free
trail and excited about not having to call Medicare to get the information
provided by Noble*Express and how they can improve their bottom line. We
received much praise for our new product and continue to work with providers to
implement Noble*ExpressT in their companies," says Noble House's Richard
Resolution: Gain control over inventory.
So, organization is not your forte, but many experts warn that letting the
inventory control the business will ultimately cut profit.
MedFORCE's Apter explains that companies looking to cut expenses are
focusing on automating tasks, like delivery. Global Positioning Systems, for
example, "makes the delivery process more efficient," she says.
"Do it right the first time," says Jay Williams, national sales
manager for QS/1, Spartanburg,
S.C. "HMEs can either take
the time to set up inventory correctly the first time, or be forced to take the
time to set it up again later. If HMEs don't take the time to do it correctly
the first time, it will become a situation of pay me now or pay me later."
The proper set up of inventory is painstaking in the short-term, but offers a
long-term gain of having an inventory system that is controlled by and useful
to you, Williams recommends.
So, if you are a provider investing in your first software program or
switching software programs, don't rush your inventory set up in your desire to
get your claims out. "In their rush to get claims out, some HMEs sacrifice
setting up their inventory properly, which can lead to claims being denied,
large accounts receivables, and the necessity to hire more people to handle
growing account receivables," Williams says.
Resolution: Operate business from the field.
The service component of HME requires that providers always be on the go.
Software that helps providers manage the business from the field is essential
to smooth operation. Many software companies already offer PDA devices that
allow for on-site reporting and some are tweaking the software setup to provide
When asked what home health providers will be looking for in their 2007
software, Misys' Brian answered, "They are looking for decision support
and intuitive work flow. This promotes efficiency and sustains solid clinical
To answer those needs, Misys offers dashboards for at-a-glance summaries of
work and patient information at the point of care.
Resolution: Payer-proof your business.
Getting funding quickly and easily helps business stay afloat. Software can
police denials to make the funding process run smoothly.
Eligibility systems help prevent billing errors by offering on-the-spot
approvals. These systems assist with claims appeals and show the client's
deductible for collection.
Tired of worrying about the billing nightmare? Try outsourcing. MedFORCE's
sister company, Healthcare Management Solutions, offers software that automates
the entire billing process.
Resolution: Go paperless.
No room for storage? Feeling a bit sorry for all those trees? A paperless
office might be a way to clean up the office and save a little money.
Document imaging increases the effectiveness of the office staff, says
MedFORCE's Apter. Today's software can store and retrieve documents and track
shipments and paperwork with technologies like barcoding.
Brian Williams, marketing manager for Computer Applications Unlimited, says,
"CAU's flagship software features third-party HME billing and real-time
inventory tracking. Solution/One HME includes integrated retail and
collections, automated ABN processing, free live Web updates, electronic claims
transmissions directly from your computer to the payer's."
According to Metridoc, what could be easier than putting documents in a
scanner, pushing a button and walking away? Add the Metridoc RemitDATA
Processing Plug-In to automate Medicare EOB and DMERC/DMAC review forms. The
system doesn't just store images of documents — it takes the labor out of
filing and retrieving. "Metridoc brings to the HME provider superior
technology that is reasonably priced. The system pays for itself," says
Brian M. O'Neil, president/CEO.
Resolution: Train employees.
The biggest investment for any company is its employees, but training those
employees doesn't have to drain the pocketbook. Think you don't have time for
companywide training seminars on the latest protocols for reimbursement? The
latest software programs help companies develop materials for virtual training
Gaylene Gailliford, training, design and development manager at Apria
Healthcare, Lake Forest, Calif., uses Eedo Knowledgeware's ForceTen
Learning Content Management System. Because the company must deliver training
materials that meet regulatory requirements while keeping pace with the market,
Galliford needed a system that made a quick turnaround possible. "We
needed better development tools that would streamline our workflow process,
provide reusability and speed the development cycle," she says.
"We needed to rapidly create course materials and get them out to our
front-line workers quickly and easily. Delivering Web-based learning modules
through Eedo's ForceTen system gives us the ability to modify content as the
business demands," Galliford continues.
The new system gives Apria employees access to online courses, which reduces
the need for classroom training and distance learning materials, says
Galliford. In addition, ForceTen, which supports a large number of users,
allows the company to track and report test scores as well as get materials up
and running in a day.
Resolution: Learn From Colleagues.
Are you curious to know what other companies deem important when it comes
analyzing and tracking business data but you are afraid to ask? Look no
According to Spencer Kay, president of Fastrack, "One of the many
benefits of Fastrack's use of the Microsoft SQL database and open-environment
approach is the unrestricted access clients have to their data. This allows
providers to write custom reports utilizing the Crystal Report Writer. Collectively,
Fastrack's clients have developed a substantial number of very valuable
reports. It became apparent to us that if we shared these reports with our
clients, it would be helpful in managing their business. Fastrack believes that
this sharing of reports will provide new insights for providers as they will
have an opportunity to learn what indicators other companies deem important to
analyze and track. The service also can save time by eliminating the need to
develop reports that someone else has already created."
ForceTen Learning Content Management System, an entirely browser-based
system, streamlines the capture of information and development of learning
materials and improves the management and sharing of information across an
Eedo Knowledgeware Corp., (888) 844-6533, www.eedo.com
AR-Express, a Windows-based software program, includes HIPAA electronic
claims and payment postings for all DMAC jurisdictions and Medicaids, patient
billing, inventory, bar coding, collections, report designer, A/R and more.
DIABCO Medical Billing Systems Inc., (800) 864-6210, www.AR-Express.net
Misys Homecare provides clinical and financial services in one intuitive
solution. The software includes Web-based and server-based functionality with
point of care via both tablet PC and PDA.
Misys Healthcare Systems, (866) MISYS-US, www.misyshealthcare.com
MedFORCE 5, designed specifically for DME/HME, replaces paper files by
scanning and auto-filing records using OCR, templates or barcode. The software
creates and imports electronic forms; manages EOMBs and denials; and integrates
with billing software.
MedFORCE Technologies Inc., (866) 237-1190, www.medforcetech.com
The DME Office, a comprehensive management system, electronically processes
all DMAC regions, Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, clearinghouses and
insurance carriers. The software offers serialized inventory control, CMN entry
and tracking, and patient and vendor management.
SoftAid, (877) 763-8243, www.soft-aid.com
Easy to use, TeamDME! XL manages all aspects of a business with one software
solution, including finances, inventory, customers, vendors, document imaging,
workflow process, retail point of sale and more.
TeamDME, (888) 832-6363, www.teamdme.com
SystemOne, QS/1's software solution for HME suppliers, is a Windows-based
solution with key features that include ease of use, speed of operation, direct
electronic billing to all four DMACs and 40 state Medicaids, inventory control,
accounts receivable, purchasing, point-of-sale, document imaging, UPS/FedEx/DHL
shipping module and the flexible reporting.
QS/1, (864) 803-9455, www.qs1.com
Fastrack Healthcare Systems offers a service that will allow clients access
to an extensive library of custom reports. The service is free to users of
Fastrack's HME, Infusion Pharmacy and HomeCare Agency Software. Clients can
simply download the reports from the Fastrack Web site. Utilizing the Crystal
Report Writer, the user can modify the reports to meet their special
FASTRACK Healthcare Systems Inc., (800) 520-2325, www.onlyfastrack.com
Access all patient information from just one screen and manage inventory
with Star*Pro, an easy to use Windows DME/HME Office Suite. Access multiple
warehouses and locations with just one software program. Modules include point
of sale with cash drawers, accounts receivables, payables and GL, CMNs and RX management,
insurance fee schedules and equipment maintenance.
Sterling Star Corp., (800) 457-0454, www.sterlingstar.com
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Mobility Management.