AbleNet offers mobility providers new opportunity

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - AbleNet wants HME providers to think about communication in a new way.

Communication devices, that is. 

AbleNet offers communication devices with Medicare/Medicaid codes that providers can supply to existing patients, especially complex rehab patients.

"For the DMEs, this is a world they have been living in for a very long time," said Adam Wing, vice president of global business for AbleNet. 

AbleNet offers 10 communication devices ranging from one-button devices that play one message, to the Jive, a device with unlimited options and 14 hours of recording time. 

The prescription process for a communication device is similar to that for wheelchairs: Patients are prescribed communication devices by doctors and referred to a speech pathologist.

Wing sees this market as an opportunity for reimbursement-strapped providers, especially those in competitive bidding areas. Communication devices aren't part of the program.

AbleNet has hired speech pathologist Diane Russell to reach out to providers through webinars, industry shows and in-person consultation.

Currently, most AbleNet devices sold in the United States are sold to school districts. But since education budgets are shrinking, AbleNet believes providers are a good resource because they can bill Medicare and Medicaid.

"Rather than family members throwing up their arms and saying they're left (paying out of pocket), this is another solution," said Russell.

Provider response has been positive so far, Wing said. 

"The feedback that we received is exactly what we had hoped for," Wing said, "Which is, 'This is what we're looking for.'"