In brief: Phone calls improve compliance, provider runs for statehouse

Friday, September 27, 2013

BARCELONA, Spain – CPAP patients who received follow-up phone calls were 10% more compliant, according to a French study. Dr. Alain Didier from Toulouse University Hospital presented the results of his study at the European Respiratory Society 2013 Annual Congress, held here Sept. 7-11. In the study, 379 patients received either five follow-up calls during the three months after the initial setup, or a single visit by a technician after 30 days. During the calls, patients were given information about sleep apnea, its consequences and tips on how to use CPAP devices. After four months, CPAP compliance was 10% higher in the follow-up group, resulting in as much as an additional hour of proper use each night. Patients who received all five calls used the device for an average of 307 minutes per night.

Hi-Tech Healthcare founder running for statehouse

DACULA, Ga. – Todd Tyson, president of Hi-Tech Healthcare, has announced his candidacy for the District 104 seat in the Georgia House of Representative. He said he wants to talk with voters about cutting taxes, balancing the budget and reducing regulations. Tyson founded Hi-Tech Healthcare in 1990; the HME company has seven locations and more than 100 employees. Tyson is president of the Georgia Association of Medical Equipment Services; chairman of the Homecare Committee for the Georgia Society for Respiratory Care; a member of the Medicare/CGS Jurisdiction C Advisory Council; and a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine. He and his wife Laura live in Dacula with their four children.

Court OKs sale of Scooter Store inventory

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – A bankruptcy court judge says The Scooter Store may sell its inventory under certain conditions, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The company may sell assets worth less than $25,000 without notice and those worth between $25,000 and $100,000 with notice, but it must seek court approval before selling assets worth more than $100,000, the newspaper reports. The power wheelchair and scooter provider filed for bankruptcy in April in the wake of a federal raid on its headquarters and congressional scrutiny. It announced on *Sept. 13 plans to close after being disqualified from Round 2 of competitive bidding. The Scooter Store has not yet said when it plans to sell its inventory, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Diabetes Care Club adds pain management to mail-order offering

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Diabetes Care Club, one of 19 contract suppliers for the national mail-order program for diabetes supplies, has inked a deal with Neurometrix to distribute its pain management system. Diabetes Care Club, a wholly owned subsidiary of Simplex Healthcare, will distribute the Sensus pain management system also through mail order. “Our customer feedback indicates that diabetic nerve pain is common in our patients, and that they have a strong interest in a pain relief option such as Sensus,” stated Michael Iskra, CEO of Simplex Healthcare, in a news release. “This is an opportunity for us to expand our product offerings to address a common complication of diabetes.” Sensus is a wearable, non-invasive nerve stimulator that offers non-narcotic relief for chronic pain that’s specifically designed for people with diabetes. The most common cause of pain among diabetics: diabetic neuropathy, which affects up to 5 million in the U.S. alone, according to the release. Diabetes Care Club has grown to become the third largest mail-order supplier of diabetes testing supplies for seniors, according to the release. The company earned a spot in the national mail-order program by acquiring Priority Diabetes Supply.

Breathe goes wireless

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Breathe has launched, BreatheLink, an oximetry downloading system that sends overnight test data straight to a patient’s DME provider, it announced Sept. 23. By remotely sending oximetry results to the provider, BreatheLink can reduce the number of delivery trips by as much as 50%, according to Breathe, an independent diagnostic testing facility. “DME providers are looking for ways to cut operational expenses and BreatheLink plays a significant role in reducing unnecessary delivery trips to patient homes,” stated Amber Yeager, owner of Breathe, in a release.

Insulet, Medtronic settle lawsuit

BEDFORD, Mass. – Insulet has reached a settlement with Medtronic MiniMed in a pending lawsuit over patent infringement, according to a Sept. 25 news release. Medtronic MiniMed had filed the lawsuit against Insulet. The settlement allows for a cross-license of certain patent claims and includes an agreement by the companies not to sue each other for patent infringement related to existing products or any of their features. “This agreement allows us to maintain our focus on the launch of the new OmniPod,” stated Duane DeSisto, president and CEO of Insulet, in the release. “In addition, the agreement provides us significant freedom to continue developing the products in our pipeline.” Insulet said legal fees and a one-time cash payment to Medtronic are expected to cost the company $10 million.

VGM offers ‘Survivor’ seminars

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group hopes to help HME providers adapt and thrive with a set of “Survivor” seminars running Oct. 1 through Dec. 3 in several cities across the country, the company announced Sept. 26. “Building Your Business Plan for 2014 and Beyond” will address audits, alternative revenue sources and “survival tactics” in today’s reimbursement climate. It will be offered in 11 cities. “Navigating the Path Forward: Winning Bidder Forum” will offer tips on adjusting the scale of a business to handle larger volume, geographic expansion, marketing, regulations and more. It will be offered Dec. 5 in Dallas. Register online.

FDA finalizes device identification rule

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a final rule Sept. 20 that requires manufacturers to mark most medical devices distributed in the country with a unique device identifier (UDI). The numeric and alphanumeric codes will identify the labeler and device model, and provide information about manufacture and expiration dates. The rule takes effect Dec. 23. Class III devices (high-risk) must carry the codes within a year; Class II devices (moderate-risk) within three years; and Class I devices not exempt from the rule within five years. In a bulletin to members, AAHomecare said the rule will benefit providers by providing better information in adverse-event reports. It will also help the FDA quickly identify product problems, specifically target devices for recall and improve patient safety.

U.K. regulators accuse Pride Mobility, retailers of limiting competition

LONDON – Customers in the U.K. browsing the Internet for deals on seven models of Pride Mobility scooters between 2010 and 2012 found only suggested retail prices. The lack of difference in pricing resulted from agreements and practices between Pride Mobility and some of its retailers, according to The Office of Fair Trading (OFT). In a Sept. 24 news release, the OFT said those practices “infringed competition law,” though it noted its findings are provisional and that the companies involved may now respond to its objections. “The Internet is a vital tool for shopping around,” stated Louis Christofides, competition law director at OFT, in the release. “If retailers are prevented from advertising their discounts online, consumers are significantly restricted from identifying and obtaining lower prices, and it is harder for innovative and efficient retailers to win new customers.” The National Pensioners Convention welcomes the OFT’s investigation, and it calls for more consumer protections, according to an article in The Telegraph.

HHS calls for DME location system

WASHINGTON – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeks a system to locate people using life-sustaining DME and assess the status of their devices during prolonged power outages or disasters. The agency has issued an “Ideation Challenge” and is offering $10,000 in total rewards for solutions that would provide real-time and remotely accessible information to emergency personnel. During power outages or disasters, those with electrically powered DME often go to shelters or emergency rooms, or need assistance managing their medical conditions. “We need a reliable system available to identify, locate and assist these individuals in a timely fashion,” the agency stated in a news release.

Paul Ryan discusses bid program with association

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., met recently with members of the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services (WAMES) to discuss the difficulties that Medicare beneficiaries are having due to competitive bidding. Providers told Ryan that beneficiaries are confused about who their contracted suppliers are and that some are paying out-of-pocket for equipment and services, according to a Sept. 24 news release from the association. Cindy Ciardo, of Knueppel HealthCare Services, said Ryan understands the effects of competitive bidding in his district. “The congressman is interested in working with other members of Congress to fix the flawed competitive bidding program,” she said in the release.

Lose weight, use CPAP to control sleep apnea, physicians say

PHILADELPHIA – The American College of Physicians says the best way for patients to control obstructive sleep apnea is to maintain a healthy weight and use a CPAP device. In a new clinical practice guide published in the October issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the group strongly recommends CPAP as the treatment of choice for sleep apnea. It offers a weak endorsement to mandibular advancement devices for people who suffer adverse effects from CPAP. The guide says physicians should also encourage their overweight and obese sleep apnea patients to lose weight, which can help improve symptoms of the disease.

New lawsuit claims Invacare hid problems from employees

CLEVELAND – A former Invacare employee seeks class action status for a lawsuit she has filed against the company, alleging it failed to inform employees that it was in trouble with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over quality control procedures, Cleveland Business News reports. Invacare’s trouble with the FDA led the company’s retirement plan—which, in 2011, held $21 million in company stock, about 12% of total assets—to take a big hit, according to the lawsuit. Plaintiffs want Invacare to reimburse the plan for the $11.5 million it has lost since July 2010, the lawsuit states. Invacare told Cleveland Business News that it is showing the FDA it is in compliance with regulations through several audits. “We don’t think the lawsuit has any merit,” said Lara Mahoney, director of investor relations and corporate communications at Invacare.

CGS posts warning for enteral claims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An increasing number of errors in Medicare claims for enteral nutrition have led claims processor CGS to post a reminder on its website about documentation and billing requirements. The post details the necessary information that must be included in DME equipment information forms, detailed written orders and clinical records to demonstrate the type of nutrient needed and the continuing medical need for enteral nutrition.

Home Care Medical, staff honored at WAMES convention

NEW BERLIN, Wis. – Home Care Medical is the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services (WAMES) provider of the year for the second straight year. The HME company was honored during the association’s annual convention earlier this month. Also at the convention, Jim Spellman, director of operations at Home Care Medical, was named WAMES president for 2014; and Donna Smith, a respiratory care director at the company, received an excellence award for the work she has done with the association’s respiratory committee. “These awards, along with Jim and Donna’s contributions, represent our continued commitment and dedication to excellence in serving the communities of southeastern Wisconsin,” stated John Teevan, president of Home Care Medical, in a news release.

Short takes

Waterloo, Iowa-based The VGM Group has been named one of the state’s Top 10 medium-sized workplaces by the Des Moines Register for the second time in three years. The honor was based solely on surveys completed by VGM employee-owners…Montgomery Medical Equipment Company now uses Authentidate’s Inscrybe software for paperless referrals and order management. The web-based software automates workflow and reduces errors in the authorization process for equipment and services, according to a release from the Berkeley Heights, N.J.-based Authentidate.

People news

Hartford, Conn.-based CareCentrix has appointed James Kelly and David Snow to its board of directors. Kelly formerly served as Chairman and CEO of Lincare, and Snow formerly served as Chairman and CEO of Medco Health Solutions…Tampa, Fla.-based MSL Holdings has hired Chris Fraser as operations manager. MSL is a marketing, sales and logistics company representing a portfolio of health, wellness, mobility and sleep solutions for the U.S. complex rehab and caregiver markets.