Manage your fleet and your reimbursements with the right software
by Wayne Bailey

The HME industry is undergoing massive change and consolidation. Companies that are thriving in the market are increasingly using technology to drive growth.

The best technologies are enabling savvy HME owners to overtake legacy businesses that are slow to adopt new software and systems.

One way that software is proving invaluable is by turning delivery trucks into mobile profit centers. A profit center is a part of the business that can be measured independently of others. In the HME industry, with electronic communication fast becoming the norm, stores are no longer the only profit center. You can now treat your trucks as their own money-making vehicles.

The key is to reframe your trucks as not just vehicles, but as moving stores from which your drivers can obtain adequate documentation and even begin the billing process as soon as they complete a delivery. With the right mobile software for your business, you can build delivery and compliance into drivers’ existing smart devices. Software can help optimize delivery routes on the fly, change products curbside if needed, and produce the correct compliance documentation the first time.

You may hesitate because of your drivers. While they may be excellent drivers and set-up technicians, they may not be the best at obtaining billing documentation, which becomes a constant challenge for your billing department.

How many times have your billers complained that a driver didn’t get adequate documentation the first time? With modern technology, you can avoid the constant battle between drivers and billers because software allows drivers to drive and billers to bill without forcing anyone to argue over what was done.

With software to guide your drivers, you can eliminate the need for them to make on-the-spot decisions, or try and figure out what documentation is necessary for the equipment being delivered. With just their device and a fully-stocked mobile warehouse, your drivers can now optimize their delivery routes and virtually eliminate costly return trips because the software guides them through each step of the documentation process.

Inventory

The first step in redefining your truck fleet is in stocking each truck as if it were a store. The right mobile inventory software will help you analyze the route of each truck to determine the items that should be on the truck every time it heads out the door.

Having a truck fully stocked at all times means that you can adjust your drivers’ routes throughout the day as orders come in. Only rarely will your drivers need to return to the warehouse to restock if their route inventory has been optimized. Instead, they can take on new orders throughout the day, optimizing their delivery routes without costly delays and return trips.

Having truck-based inventory also means that if your driver arrives at a delivery and discovers that a piece of equipment is inoperable or the wrong size, he or she can immediately source a replacement on the spot, eliminating a costly return trip.

Since each trip is estimated at about $70, a mobile warehouse and curbside software combine to save HME businesses significant costs, supporting massive improvements in margins.

Your drivers’ existing devices, combined with the right HME delivery software, are all that is needed to optimize routes, receive new orders and accurately monitor current inventory in real time. Drivers can collect a digital time-stamped signature at curbside, and all inventory levels are automatically adjusted, providing an up-to-the-second accurate inventory count across your entire company. This eliminates the one- to three-day wait for delivery confirmation, which delays inventory item counts and requires double data entry.

Documentation

Without a doubt, the success of an HME business hinges on its ability to obtain proper documentation. Failing to maintain records that are instantly and easily accessible leads to failure to reimburse at worst, and under-reimbursement at least. Your billing department is likely constantly complaining about inadequate documentation due to drivers’ lack of obtaining the right information at the right time.

Additionally, documentation, when taken in paper form, means a minimum of a 24-hour turnaround time; your drivers have to deliver the paper documentation, and then it must be manually entered into the system. Even the most conscientious drivers will occasionally forget documentation or lose a critical piece of paper, meaning a costly return trip and further delays in your billing process.

In order to maintain your fleet as a profit center, you need to provide your drivers with a software-driven system that ensures they have the right documentation on hand and can obtain time-stamped signatures and authorizations upon delivery.

Your drivers’ smart devices can become critical business tools, if they have the right software system to help eliminate the need for paper documentation, carry everything electronically and collect digital time-stamped records of every delivery.

Billing

When you turn your trucks into profit centers, you need to ensure that drivers can trigger the billing process immediately upon delivery. With many business systems, this is impossible.

Your drivers, who know nothing about billing, are mainly concerned with driving, delivery and curbside setup. They consider documentation to be an add-on, and a frustrating one at that. Asking drivers to remember the correct documentation needed for each product is difficult and leads to costly delays and chronic under-reimbursement.

Even if drivers do get the correct documentation the first time, they have to bring the paperwork back to the office, where it is coded after the fact. If there is a problem with documentation, it often doesn’t come to light until 24 hours after the delivery is complete, forcing a return trip and delaying the billing process.

With the right software, once the patient is set up and trained on all the equipment, the driver can review each item received, and the client can acknowledge receipt on the driver's mobile device. Because every step is detailed on the device, the driver doesn’t have to remember any single piece of paper or signature. The billing department receives the documentation at the instant the driver marks the delivery complete using the device, and there are rarely errors because the driver was guided through every step.

All this documentation is HIPAA compliant, uses encrypted communication, and the billing process can begin immediately upon delivery. This action, combined with excellent documentation, means that you get reimbursed faster and at maximum rates.