In fact, Perre’s company has made a positive difference in hospices nationwide, thanks to proprietary software that streamlines and improves the delivery of durable medical equipment (DME). StateServ’s software is now used by more than 300 DME providers across the U.S., and the company continues to expand in Arizona, where, according to StateServ director of sales Andy Spencer, people use hospice care at a higher rate than the national average, with an estimated average daily census of 9,364 patients. While there are DME companies throughout Arizona (a 2008 report from the Durable Medical Equipment Task Force cites 212), StateServ is the only known hospice-specific provider, StateServ spokesperson Nancy Johnson says.
Perre co-founded Tempe-based StateServ in 2004, with Paul DiCosmo, CEO; and Chris Roode, vice president and chief technology officer. “We had a burning desire to help people,” Perre says. “If you can combine doing something positive, pay it forward, give of your heart and create a business at the same time, that’s pretty special.”
StateServ started as a physical DME delivery service, providing quality and reliable equipment including hospital beds, oxygen and ventilators to patients in hospice-care settings and at home. At that time, there was a lack of technology in the hospice world, Roode says. “We had an opportunity to look at an industry we didn’t know well, but could see how equipment provisioning occurred and it wasn’t efficient,” he says. “We knew that we could make a difference with our software and could free up the nurses and hospice directors so they could focus on delivering patient care.”
With that goal in mind, the company devised a web-based portal for hospice personnel, patients and their families to order equipment in real time, 24 hours a day. “We utilized technology to deliver a much better customer service experience,” Perre says.
Before StateServ’s software came on the scene, ordering was done by fax and phone, resulting in inconsistent communication, long waits for delivery and billing delays. If a patient was placed in hospice care after 5 p.m., he or she would have to wait until the next morning for necessary equipment to be delivered. It was also typical for hospices to receive stacks of bills from DME companies that were 200-300 pages long, making it difficult to control costs.
Now, orders can be placed anywhere there is an Internet connection, and users have the ability to track the status of orders 24 hours a day. Hospice personnel can track equipment costs as they occur.
As word spread about StateServ, it expanded regionally and in 2010, launched StateServ Network Services to contract with DME companies across the country. “That’s when the wave of standardization hit the industry and we changed the dynamic of how medical equipment is provided for hospice for the whole country,” DiCosmo says.
In the early days of StateServ, Perre answered calls and took orders. DiCosmo and Roode delivered equipment. As the company grew, they added more employees (now around 160, not including subcontractors). The company now serves 45 states and 50,000 patients daily, according to DiCosmo.
By mid-2014, StateServ will have 14 “brick and mortar” locations across the country with medical equipment warehouses and trucks. They have increased their footprint to include more than 300 competitors nationwide that use their software and services. “We utilize our competitors to help deliver equipment in markets that we don’t directly compete in,” Perre says.
The industry has seen an explosion of hospice DME providers in the past few years, according to Infinity Hospice Care CEO Darren Bertram, a StateServ customer in Arizona and Nevada. DME companies have recently realized there’s “an inefficiency in the market that StateServ has recognized for a long time,” he says.
Since StateServ went nationwide, several competing companies have emerged. HospiceLink, an Alabama-based DME company that had participated in StateServ’s network, came out with an “exact snapshot” of StateServ’s services about a year and a half later, Perre says. Another company, Hospice Cloud, has also modeled its software after StateServ’s.
But Perre isn’t too concerned about the competition. “We welcome all competitors because hospices around the country know that we are the pioneers,” he says. “We introduced all the technologies out there and everybody’s trying to chase us.”
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