Interoperability: Leverage what's already there

Q. There is a lot of talk recently about interoperability. How will it affect HME providers?
 - 
Monday, January 30, 2017

A. Interoperability is simply the right information moving to the right place at the right time. As more referral sources have connected to the digital world, it is important for HME providers to electronically receive and share information to deliver better patient care, improve outcomes and enhance relationships with referral sources. The good news is, if you use an information technology system to share data—such as by automating patient orders or receiving completed forms—interoperability is already part of your HME business.

Specifically, here are three factors for HMEs to consider:

Operational efficiency: From a management standpoint, HME providers can save a large amount of time by automating their workflow. Data is shared throughout the process, from automation of order intake to delivery to reimbursement, without the need for re-keying. Any reduction in order processing time can lead to a decrease in labor costs and data entry errors.

Reimbursement: Interoperability can also improve reimbursement effectiveness. Instead of chasing information and forms to ensure payment, the process is automated. If providers obtain the correct information on intake, the process for forms completion is streamlined and patient records are updated quickly, helping ensure timely and complete reimbursement.

Alignment with evolving government mandates in the health IT space: There are increased efforts to drive adoption of advanced health IT solutions to ensure data follows the patient. There have been bumps in the road to interoperability, which the government is addressing through legislation and mandates that offer carrots for your referral sources to become interoperable.

As we move to outcome-based reimbursements, sharing data becomes invaluable for HME providers to drive efficiency and solidify relationships with referral sources who are focused on patient outcomes. With your business at stake, can you afford not to leverage interoperability?

Nick Knowlton is a vice president, business development, at Brightree. Reach him at nknowlton@brightree.com.