How to Leverage Your Software System

Using an HME software system to simply manage billing is a bit like driving a Ferrari to the grocery store. Most HME systems can put your business in the fast lane toward finding new efficiencies and leveraging new opportunities, but if you don’t know how to use a software system to its fullest, you might as well be driving a Model T.

How do providers ensure a successful implementation of a new software system and maximize their usage of that system once it is up and running?

Create an implementation team. Start by enlisting key internal champions from various segments of the business to help shape the implementation and adaptation of the new system by each group. Moreover, this team can help ensure the system meets each department’s needs.

Focus on training. Ensure staff is prepped for that training to help smooth the transition and ensure that most of them actually anticipate getting the new tools. David Siegel, chief operating officer for CPAP and BiPaP provider Nationwide Medical, advises that providers dedicate sufficient time and focus on that training to ensure staff make the most of the system.

“That’s a key component,” he says. “Employees are generally reluctant at first because you’re taking them out of their comfort zone. It’s always going to take longer than you expect. Very few folks really spend the time to understand how much time it will take before they are up and running.”

Even veteran employees will have to get used to doing things a new way — even down to the smallest task. “That was a big thing for us,” Siegel says. “We struggled somewhat through the training, but we were very fortunate in that we had an excellent trainer who had tremendous patience. The training took a lot longer than what we thought it would be. That to me is probably the biggest aspect that gets overlooked.”

Learn the software’s full potential. The first year into Nationwide Medical’s adaptation of its system staff were still discovering new capabilities. But sticking to training and working with their vendor paid off, Siegel says. “We picked up a lot of valuable practices from various trainers that probably didn’t even realize they were saying anything that meant something to us, but we took note of it,” he says.

Enlist data entry help.
If you are transitioning to a new system, keep staff focused on the main jobs at hand and farm out any data entry work. “You’re current workforce will be working to understand the new software and get acclimated,” Siegel says. “In the data conversion most of it will happen electronically, but there are always some sections of it that you will have to manually bring over. If you’re able to, bring in a few temporary workers and have them do the data entry.”

Diminish culture shock. Some employees might have trouble adjusting, but conversely, there are always going to be employees who are more “electronically gifted” and who will readily adapt to the new system. Take those power users and turn them into leaders who can help transition their more reticent coworkers to the new system.

Understand what the system is capable of achieving.
The biggest mistake providers can make is trying to get to their comfort zone with a new system. Providers must push the envelope. “If you’re going to the right software system it should be able to do a lot more than you currently do, and more than you know,” Siegel explains. “The only way you’ll get there is if you challenge your team.”

Establish deadlines and stick to them.
Make sure that when various departments are scheduled to switch over to a new system that they fully commit and switch over to the new system. Sure there might be a need to delay a deadline, but at some point it will be clear that it is time for a transition.

“If you let people go back their crutch, even if the new system is better and more advanced, they’re still going to go back to their safe place if you let them,” Siegel says. “At some point we said, ‘Here’s the drop-dead deadline. If you have anything you want to get from the old system into the new system, do it now. I found forcing that deadline is key to the success of the transition. If you keep operating that you’re working toward the deadline, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done.”

Points to take away:
•    Create a team that can ensure the new system is implemented by all departments.
•    Get the most from your training, and don’t be afraid to let training last longer than initially anticipated, if necessary, so that you learn to use the software to its fullest.
•    Hire temporary data entry help to handle the grunt work of transitioning data so that staff can focus on the more important aspects of the integration.
•    Let internal champions help less eager staff through the process of adapting the new system.
•    Set a rock-solid deadline for turning off the old system and completely switching over to the new system.

This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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