Assume dual roles of educator, communicator

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Three years ago, AdvaCare Home Services launched a COPD program to monitor patient care data and communicate proactively with physicians and payers about their progress.

It’s how the Pittsburgh-based provider has generated valuable outcomes data and cemented itself into the continuum of care.

“We give (physicians) information they never could have gotten on their patient otherwise,” says AdvaCare President and CEO Tammy Zelenko. “When we can intervene and tell them what’s going on, they love it and they need it.”

HME providers should assume the role of educator, says Zelenko, constantly communicating their clinical, financial and patient satisfaction value.

“It starts from the inside and it’s very obvious on the outside,” she says. “You can say that you manage your patients, but walk the walk and talk the talk.”

Having data to back up your value proposition is essential, Zelenko says, but it isn’t enough to rely on studies and research generated at the national level.

“It doesn’t mean anything to (health systems) if I say, ‘Here’s what’s going on across the United States.’” she says. “They don’t care. They want to know what’s going on with Mrs. Smith.”

Engaging the Mrs. Smiths of the community to participate in and advocate for their care in the home has also been critical, Zelenko says.

“Our message to the patient is, ‘We want to keep you at home, but you have to be part of the solution,’” she says.

With the increased focus on accountability in health care, Zelenko is hopeful about HME’s future prospects as respected providers of post-acute care.

“I think we will finally get the respect we deserve,” she says. “They’re starting to get it—they’re starting to see how important it is to partner with a good, clinically sound company. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer.”