Actsys: Making home monitoring work

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

WESTLAKE, Calif. — Actsys Medical has big plans for home monitoring, even if other HMEs don't.
Over the past year, the $55 million specialty distribution pharmacy has invested nearly $700,000 acquiring 1,000 HomMed home monitoring systems and created an HME arm to oversee the specialty.

"Give it time and there will be as many of these out there as apnea monitors," said Brian Stiver, vice president Actsys Healthcare, the specialty HME company.

Actsys already has 50 of the units rented and the others "are mostly spoken for. It's just a matter of closing or implementing the contracts," Stiver said.

Actsys' home monitoring business breaks down more or less evenly between home health agencies, hospital CHF units, payers and doctor groups. When it comes to payers, hospitals and doctors groups, the key is to show how the units can reduce hospitalizations and costs by detecting a problem before it becomes a crisis. (The unit's components allow for the monitoring of asthma, CHF, COPD, diabetic and transplant patients.)

For southern California HHAs, many of which have come to grips with managed care and cut costs/home visits, the units, while not always reducing costs further, help separate one company from its competitors. And that's one of the hardest things for an HHA to do," Stiver said.

"If there is a Medicare physician who is going to put his patient on home healthcare, it's a pretty easy decision for him to make when one has that kind of technology and one doesn't," he said.

In other parts of the country, using home monitoring to reduce nurse visits and costs is a big advantage, he said.
Actsys rents monitors for $225 to $300 a month, depending on the number of units a customer requires and who monitors the patients, Actsys or the customer. (Stiver expects more companies, once they become comfortable with the technology, to lease-to-buy the units rather then rent.)

At the moment, Actsys Healthcare, which has an exclusive distribution agreement with HomMed in Southern California, is "rich on interest and potential" but still in the start up phase and yet to turn a profit. Actsys' business plan calls for renting or leasing 25 units a month. HME