In brief: Bill seeks to change LCD process, Apria provides notice of security breach

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Friday, October 7, 2016

WASHINGTON – Two senators recently introduced a bill that seeks to improve the transparency and accountability of the local coverage determination (LCD) process performed by the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs).

The Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act of 2016 would: require open and public meetings with the MACs that are on the record; require disclosure by the MACs of the rationale for an LCD and the evidence for that decision at the beginning of the process; provide stakeholders with a meaningful reconsideration process for an LCD; and prohibit the MACs from adopting an LCD from another jurisdiction without first conducting its own independent evaluation.

“Unfortunately, the LCD process MACs use is flawed, lacks transparency and does not provide meaningful opportunity for stakeholder input or appeals,” said Scott Whitaker, president and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), in a statement. “Because of these shortcomings, American patients are at risk for being denied access to needed technologies and services.”

AdvaMed is a trade association representing medical device manufacturers. It has nearly 300 member companies, including Cardinal Health, Coloplast, ConvaTec, DJO, Hill-Rom and Philips Health Care.

Sens. Thomas Carper, D-Del., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced the bill in late September.

A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in July.

Apria provides notice of security breach

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – An email account of an employee at Apria Healthcare that contains personal information of certain individuals has been subject to unauthorized access, the national provider announced Oct. 4.

The information potentially subject to unauthorized access includes a combination of name, date of birth, patient identification number, Social Security number, diagnosis information, doctor’s name, type of medical equipment requested, treatment location, medical record number, driver’s license or state identification number and/or health insurance information, according to a statement.

“Letters to those impacted by the incident are being mailed,” Apria said. “These letters include an explanation of the incident, an offer of credit monitoring and identity restoration services and information about additional ways impacted individuals can protect themselves.”

Apria has also established a confidential call center staffed with professionals to answer questions related to the breach. To reach the center, call 855-303-6661.

Apria discovered that the email account of an employee was subject to unauthorized access on Aug. 5, and immediately launched an internal investigation and retained third-party forensic experts. The forensic experts determined that the email account contained the personal information of certain individuals.

Earlier this year, Rotech Healthcare, another national provider, experienced a potential security breach involving personal information of 957 individuals.

CareCentrix builds bridge to home

HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has launched a cloud-based platform that connects patients to the providers and care they need when they’re discharged from the hospital. 

CareCentrix developed HomeBridge to provide a complete view of a patient’s data, to track clinical events over time and to enhance collaboration, the company says in a press release.

“Patients deserve better care coordination,” said John Driscoll, CEO of CareCentrix. “Too often healthcare providers play their position, but do not have the tools to work as a team to help patients transition home.”

CareCentrix connects patients with care at home through a national network of more than 8,000 credentialed provider locations. It provides support and coordination for home health, DME, home infusion, sleep management and care management services.

With HomeBridge, these providers will be able to see a daily record of information like blood pressure and heart rate, and intervene when needed, CareCentrix says.

“We align patients with the right providers and support those providers to work as a team to guide the path home and then continue to provide patients the support they need,” Driscoll said.

CareCentrix built HomeBridge on Salesforce Health Cloud.

“In this digital era, healthcare providers need to engage their patients in new ways to not only create strong and meaningful relationships, but also to improve quality and lower costs,” said Joshua Newman, M.D., chief medical officer and general manager of Salesforce Healthcare and Life Sciences.

CareCentrix expects HomeBridge to produce “an active ecosystem of users, collaborators and integrations.”

Rep. Price steps up support for HME industry

WATERLOO, Iowa, and ATLANTA – Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., attended a healthcare forum hosted by The VGM Group this week and announced plans to attend the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Update at Medtrade in November.

Price, who attended the forum with Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, talked with area executives, doctors and advocates representing various segments of health care about the challenges their businesses face.

Price shared a story about how he was driven to run for office after realizing, while practicing medicine, that there were more people in his office trying to make sure every rule was followed and every dollar was tracked down, than people caring for patients.

“There has got to be a better way of doing health care,” he said at the forum.

A long-time champion of the HME industry, Price has proposed various bills to reform the competitive bidding program for HME. Last year, he proposed a bill to modify the national rollout of competitive bidding by providing a 30% increase in reimbursement over the bidding-derived prices and a four-year phase-in period.

At Medtrade, Price will attend the Washington Legislative Update from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, AAHomecare has confirmed.

Quality Medical takes total control

LARGO, Fla. – Quality Medical has rolled out a suite of programs called “Total Equipment Control (TEC)” that allows HME providers to outsource supply chain, warehousing, transportation, financing, engineering, and repair and service. The central element to TEC is a cloud-based inventory management application solution that’s integrated with warehousing, transportation and third-party preventative maintenance and repair services.

“Quality Medical’s new high-value asset management service helps HME companies streamline operations and reduce costs, while improving equipment availability for patient,” said Jim Worrell, senior vice president of corporate development. “Recent reductions in reimbursement rates necessitate efficiency improvements and a focus on improving core activities, while outsourcing all non-core functions.”

Quality Medical offers providers a low monthly fee to cover all preventative maintenance and repairs over a 24-month period. To boost a provider’s cash flow, the company also offers to buy its high-value assets and rent them back to the provider.

Quality Medical has been in business since 2003, serving as a national service center for respiratory equipment from companies like Philips Respironics, ResMed and Breas, but it has been under new ownership since last September. Its primary service center is in Largo, Fla., and it plans to open a second facility in North Georgia before the end of the year.

O2 Concepts expands sales force

NEWTOWN, Conn. – O2 Concepts has expanded its U.S. sales team with the hire of Ken Abriola as president of domestic sales and with the promotion of John Lewis to national sales director. Abriola, who will manage all U.S. sales, was most recently manager of Fukuda Denshi’s U.S. sales and marketing. He has also held positions with Drager, Toshiba and Spacelabs. Lewis, who will focus on large accounts and national growth strategies, was previously the southeast regional manager for O2 Concepts.

AAH renames Homecare Champion Award after Van Miller

ATLANTA – AAHomecare has renamed its Homecare Champion Award theVan Miller Homecare Champion Award. “Van had the foresight and drive to create more than just his own successful company,” said Tom Ryan, president of AAHomecare. “Instead, he helped build hundreds of flourishing companies that are essential lifelines to patients all over the county.” 

As past CEO and founder, Miller turned The VGM Group into a strong presence on Capitol Hill and a force in mobilizing grassroots support on HME policy priorities. He also served on AAHomecare’s board of directors. The award, which is given for outstanding HME service, will be presented at AAHomecare’s Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade.

Aeroflow adds office in Charlotte

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare is relocating its Gastonia, N.C., office to the more centralized Charlotte area to better service patients, the company announced Oct. 3. The new office is in the Airport 85 Business Park, easily accessible from Interstate 85 and the Bill Graham Parkway. “By opening a location closer to Charlotte, we hope to better service our patients and our community,” said CEO Casey Hite. “The new Charlotte office will be more convenient and provides more space for us to grow.” Aeroflow has its headquarters in Asheville and has 15 other locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Colorado and Mississippi.

Domtar-HDIS a done deal

FORT MILL, S.C. – Domtar Corp. has completed its acquisition of Home Delivery Incontinence Supplies (HDIS), the company announced Oct. 3. Domtar, a provider of fiber-based products, and HDIS, a direct-to-consumer provider of incontinence supplies, announced a definitive agreement on Aug. 18. The deal is worth $45 million with a possible earn-out payment of up to $10 million.

SCA joins forces with Premier

PHILADELPHIA – SCA has joined the supply network of Premier, the second largest healthcare Group Purchasing Organization in the United States. SCA will provide its Tork brand of Away-from-Home professional hygiene products to Premier’s network of about 3,600 member hospitals and 120,000 alternate site locations, including assisted living facilities. SCA has seen health care become one of the largest and most sustainable growth segments for the Away-from-Home products. “We are pleased to join forces with Premier to accelerate our presence within the healthcare industry,” said Joe Russo, vice president of sales and marketing for SCA’s Away-from-Home products. SCA also sells incontinence products under the TENA brand.

Comfort Medical expands awareness of ‘Woody Packs’

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Comfort Medical, a mail-order provider of urological and ostomy supplies, and Wheel:Life, a social community for wheelchair users, have announced a new partnership with The Woody Foundation, a not-for-profit that raises funds for the recovery of those with paralysis. Together, they will work to expand awareness of a free nationwide program that provides “Woody Packs” to quadriplegics and other people with limited hand dexterity due to paralysis. The packs include ID holders with a retractable cord to attach to a wheelchair; grip tape; adaptive forks and spoons; a cup with a closeable top and long straws; a wheelchair cup holder; a wheelchair side bag; and a handi-zap (a ring with a stylus attached that can be used on different types of electronic and touch screen devices).

Start-up home infusion provider licenses CareTend software

LENEXA, Kan. – Crossroad Pharmacy has licensed Mediware Information Systems’ CareTend software for its home infusion service, Mediware has announced. Crossroad Pharmacy is a Wylie, Texas-based start-up home infusion pharmacy. “When searching for software, we needed a reliable system that would manage all of our business operations without accessing multiple applications,” said Samuel Evang, director of pharmacy and clinical services at Crossroad Pharmacy, in a release. “CareTend was the obvious choice for us so that we can easily manage our patients, inventory, deliveries, billing, and reporting all inside the same system.” Crossroad Pharmacy is scheduled to go live with the CareTend software in the next two weeks, with plans to add the CareTend specialty pharmacy software component in the near future.

John Gallagher makes Hall of Fame

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group’s John Gallagher has been inducted into the University of Northern Iowa’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Hall of Fame. The first ROTC cadet at UNI back in 1980, Gallagher was also the first UNI ROTC alum inducted into the U.S. Army Cadet Command ROTC Hall of Fame. Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM, received a standing ovation at UNI’s Homecoming football game on Sept. 25, which was attended by more than 200 VGM associates and their families.