Barcodes & Mobile Computing: A Breath of Fresh Air for Family Respiratory
Family Respiratory and Medical Supply Corporation, Inc. is a full-service durable medical equipment (DME) and oxygen respiratory supplier. Founded in 1990, the company is one of less than 100,000 providers nation-wide, and in the top three percent in billing, that specializes in in-home oxygen CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) products and services.
Also the preferred provider for nine contracted patient care facilities and hospitals in the area, Family Respiratory helps with the patient discharge process by offering products and services that extend facilities’ care into the patient’s home.
The full-service respiratory and home medical equipment company operates three locations—Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Md., and Felton, Del.—and has been accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) since 1995.
In an industry filled with strigent regulations and volumes of paperwork, Family Respiratory sought a solution that would streamline its processes and ensure accountability. Because the products the company supplies to its patients are considered hazardous materials, they are strictly regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal and state agencies. It is imperative for Family Respiratory to maintain a high-level of inventory control and traceability, knowing exactly where each product is at any given time, to remain in compliance.
In addition to federal and state regulations, Family Respiratory must also abide by the detailed rules and requirements of private insurance companies and Medicare. Many of the products the company delivers to its patients are billed back to insurance and Medicare, so the details, accountability, and accuracy of the associated paperwork are of utmost importance.
When dealing with hard-copy paperwork and disconnected in-field technicians, it was nearly impossible to maintain precise inventory and compliance records without hiring additional internal staff and implementing redundant procedures. This created difficutly when the company looked to future growth.
Kenneth Suter, president & CEO, Family Respiratory, said, “As a small to mid-sized organization in an extremely competitive and regulated industry, we recognized the need to improve our paperwork processes to maintain the accountability expected by the both the FDA and insurance carriers, survive the changes of the healthcare industry, and continue to grow.”
In early 2011, Family Respiratory selected Barcoding, Inc. to deliver a mobile proof of delivery (POD) solution as part of its newly purchased billing and inventory control system. The first step of the implementation was to create barcodes within the new inventory management software application for every serialized piece of equipment that was under federal control requirements. To track the products, Barcoding configured and deployed Intermec CN50 mobile computers for Family Respiratory’s more than 20 in-field technicians and respiratory therapists. Through on-site, customized training, Barcoding made sure that all staff had the knowledge and skills necessary to take full advantage of the benefits the handheld mobile computers offer. Barcoding’s experienced, certified repair and technical support teams provide post-implementation support though a tiered helpdesk with rapid issue resolution both via phone and remote access. If a piece of hardware is not functioning properly, Barcoding will quickly repair or replace the component so Family Respiratory experiences little to no downtime.
“Barcoding’s track record and level of professionalism made the company a clear choice to implement a mobile solution for our in-field technicians. A large percentage of our business is conducted in the field when we are servicing our patients, so a mobile solution was vital in moving our business to the next level,” Suter added.
Once the technicians were armed with the new CN50 mobile devices, the company began to realize additional quality improvement capabilites beyond improved inventory tracking, receiving, shipping, and overall accuracy. The handheld devices allowed for a variety of real-time functionalities, such as tracking staff on the road to improve routing, managing equipment, and viewing patient information and in-home inventories that were previously not accessible with hard-copy orders. In addition, when the office personnel needed to assign an “add-on” or an additional responsibility to one of the field technicians, they could now dispatch it through the delivery management software to the CN50 device in the field. The technician immediately received a notification and acknowledged the add-on through the software, confirming with the dispatcher that the action would be completed.
Within a few short months, Family Respiratory began seeing significant results and return on investment. By assigning barcodes to all the equipment and automating its processes, the company removed human error and created a level of quality assurance equal to none. Family Respiratory is now experiencing real-time, accurate inventory accountability—with error ratios of .001 or less—for every serialized piece of government-controlled product it delivers. This enables quick identification, location, and access to specific products for FDA compliance, or to track in the event of a recall.
From the operations perspective, both the delivery and receiving processes have greatly improved. By tracking staff to determine efficient routing for delivery drivers and technicians, and streamlining the dispatch process, Family Respiratory has improved the delivery process 100 percent, while reducing fuel expenses. In the warehouses, automating the entry of 13-16 digit serial numbers has cut receiving time by 80 to 85 percent.
On the administrative side, the automation and electronic delivery of previously hard-copy orders has reduced paperwork by 90 percent in an industry where the burden of paperwork is tremendous. Family Respiratory quickly realized and eliminated several internal processes that became redundant, freeing up employee time and allowing for the reallocation of resources, instead of adding staff during times of growth.
“A 90 percent reduction in paperwork cannot be underestimated. Family Respiratory processes over 200,000 pieces of paper a year so the automation capabilities are unbelievable. Barcoding and Intermec’s mobile solution is a huge investment that will deliver benefits far beyond our expectations. Our operational capabilities have increased tenfold, and we’ve already seen a remarkable return on investment,” Suter concluded.
Family Respiratory is now positioned for a future of smart growth because the company is now statistically tracking and adding employees only when necessary, continuing to eliminate manual processes, and implementing additional capabilities such as mileage tracking and maintenance on vehicles.
About Barcoding, Inc.
Barcoding, Inc. is a national systems integrator and value-added reseller (VAR) specializing in the development, deployment, and management of supply chain and mobility systems based on automated data capture and wireless technology. More than 2,500 organizations depend on Barcoding, Inc. as their trusted partner for barcoding and radio frequency identification (RFID) applications to automate operations in food and beverage, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, retail and wholesale, and transportation and logistics.