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How to transform practice workflow and in-house orthotics and supplies programs

Amanda Marvin, Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Director, OrthoVirginia’s North region

In today’s evolving healthcare system, we’re seeing the core of practice and hospital management shift from fee-for-service to a value-based reimbursement model. With a greater focus on quality of care, outcomes and cost efficiency, providers across the country are working to navigate this move. For orthopedic providers facing reduced revenue and rising overhead costs, many must find additional revenue sources to remain relevant.

As such, providers are turning to inventory and patient workflow management, and ancillary services to generate income and control costs. The value of adding in-house ancillary services – supplemental lines of business offered in-house, like orthotics & Durable Medical Equipment (DME), imaging, physical/occupational therapy, and laboratory – can be substantial. For OrthoVirginia, adding orthotics & DME as ancillary services saves staff three minutes per patient and generates an average net profit of $53K per doctor, per year, across our 10 practice locations in the northern region.

OrthoVirginia North has transformed its in-house bracing and supplies program using the following “best practices” approach.  

Control over product quality and inventory

One challenge for many providers is managing the coordination of care and supplies across multiple offices, which often use separate services. Having inventory management at your fingertips makes life easier by streamlining day-to-day operations, and providing increased visibility into inventory levels. The ability to track what products are coming in and out of the door is extremely beneficial, especially for large practices. Let’s say a doctor at one office wants a certain type of brace. The order hasn’t come in, but there’s an extra at this other office. Having that transparency not only helps manage inventory levels, but enhances the coordination of product delivery within a system.

With a complete view of inventory across the system, practices have an opportunity to adjust total par levels, reduce product shrink – items that seemingly “walk away” – as well as ensure the right products are kept in stock to meet patients’ needs. At OrthoVirginia, for example, we very much stress inventory management and try to keep our shrinkage rate below two percent. By leveraging a patient DMEPOS management system, Breg Vision with Cloud Connect, that seamlessly integrates with our EHR, we’re able to meet our goal of giving time back to the clinic while still capturing as much as we can in the patient visit and potential revenue streams. Being able to see how that transpires to provider overhead cost – from receipts to invoices – has really been a best practice for the system.

Real-time tracking and connectivity

In orthopedics, product life cycles can be short, so tracking inventory levels is necessary to keep up with the increasing pace of practice needs. It’s essential to invest in solutions with proven connectivity, necessary to operate in the digital age, as well as compatibility across products, departments and systems. Leveraging cloud-based inventory management tools make it easier and more intuitive to manage workflow by seamlessly integrating with major electronic medical/health records and patient scheduling systems. Further, cloud-based solutions continue to evolve to include mobile capabilities that provide staff with real-time access to inventory via handheld devices. This not only reduces staff paperwork burden, but increases communication and efficiency by ensuring inventory levels are sufficient to meet patient and system needs.

Be prepared – Keys to compliance

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires that Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics and Orthotics Suppliers (DMEPOS) maintain, furnish and adhere to specific standards executed to provide consistent patient care. Therefore practices need to make sure they know what it takes to be compliant with Medicare standards including detailed written order, proof of delivery, electronic patient/provider signature, and Advance Beneficiary Notices (ABNs).

As part of OrthoVirginia’s partnership with Breg’s OrthoSelect and Vision programs, consulting and training are provided to ensure all practices are compliant and prepared. These services have helped with the electronic submission of paperwork to patients via email, filing compliance paperwork electronically into patient charts, as well as easing the on-boarding of newly acquired practices and locations.

Further, the cloud-based, automated software solution enables providers to easily sign multiple orders at one time, and pushes the completed compliance documents into the patient’s chart. This also includes the capability to push needed billing information into the EMR/EHR as well as fully capture each patient’s episode in these systems.

Best practices for seamless implementation

When it comes to implementing an inventory/patient workflow management solution, there are a few things to think about before and after implementation. First, it’s important to have good rapport with your IT department and vendor, as well as determine the system requirements before that. By establishing strong communication and cooperation between these parties and researching how taxing the requirements will be on firewalls, etc., the implementation process will be faster and more seamless.

To help bring staff up to speed, get the solution in front of them and walk through the patient experience from start to finish including a transaction. This provides an opportunity to answer any questions people have, identify those that may need more hand holding, but also build their confidence in using the new technology. At the same time, sometimes just listening to staff concerns and letting them know you hear them is beneficial. Once they see how easy and seamless the new solution is to use, they’ll be more comfortable and can start leveraging the benefits like the fact it can talk to scheduling systems then push into the EMR.

Whether you’re looking to generate income, manage costs or enhance the patient experience, the value of adding DMEPOS inventory/workflow management as an ancillary service can be significant for orthopedic providers.