By Tracy Orzel, Contributing Writer
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Methodist Alliance Home Medical Equipment credits its longevity and its ability to change as a big reason it was named 2019 Provider of the Year. Like all HME providers, Methodist Alliance has had to overcome cuts to reimbursement and constant audits without sacrificing patient care, making efficiency a top priority. To expedite discharges and save on delivery costs, for example, the hospital-affiliated provider keeps technicians and a small inventory onsite at two of its largest hospitals. It also works closely with its vendors to maximize any rebate programs, as well as terms of payment.
“If we have a vendor that says, ‘If you pay within 15 days, we’ll give you a 3% discount,’ we’ll pay those types of vendors electronically so that we’re not sitting on an invoice and we can cash in on that discount,” said Gina Baptiste, CFO.
Founded in 1918, Methodist Alliance Home Medical Equipment, an affiliate of Methodist Le Bonheur Hospitals, supports more than 7,000 rental patients between five adult hospitals and one pediatric hospital. It also cares for more than 200 hospice patients and handles about 125-150 walk-ins per week.
One of the more recent obstacles facing the HME industry is getting deliveries on time from major distributors overseas. To stay ahead of the game, Methodist Alliance has had to widen its network of vendors to make sure they have a backup plan at all times.
“We’ve had extensive backorders on beds and wheelchairs,” said Dana Douglas, director. “Our understanding from the vendor is that it’s political in nature due to the tariffs. That’s something we’ve never had to worry about in the past.”
Fortunately, Methodist Alliance enjoys a close working relationship with its hospitals, making it more nimble to deal with future challenges down the road. “Our hospitals really include us in the decision making and servicing the patients because they’re very focused on the continuum of care,” said Douglas. “So we’re very plugged into whatever changes the hospitals are going to make and we try to roll with them and stay up to date.”