Bright skies ahead for diabetes provider

Thursday, May 12, 2011

RENO, Nev. - A year ago BrightSky didn't exist. Now it has positioned itself as one of the largest mail-order diabetes suppliers in the country.

In April, BrightSky's parent company, Sanare, announced it had acquired Miami-based Doctor Diabetic Supply, which in 2009 billed Medicare more than $21 million for test strips. Also in April, Sanare/BrightSky acquired Warren, Mich.-based Great Lakes Medical Supply. The provider now has about 160,000 patients.

But BrightSky is not just a "strips and meters" company, said CEO Ron Geraty.

"What we would like to be is an outcomes company, a behavior change company and a company that is focused on the cost and quality of the total care of the individual with diabetes," he said. 

Doctor Diabetic Supply and Great Lakes Medical Supply, which will be folded into the BrightSky name, offer the provider the boost it needs to grow further, said Geraty. Doctor Diabetic has a high-quality, direct-to-consumer model and workflow system, while Great Lakes has been able to demonstrate cost savings for its patients.

Those are key for BrightSky. The company is in the process of developing a technology platform that will allow patients, physicians, diabetes educators and payers to easily communicate about the patient, said Geraty.

"Whenever we talk to somebody, their key information, including whatever happened on the last call, will pop up," he said. "We think education and working closely with individuals improves outcomes and reduces costs."

That's a lesson Medicare could stand to learn from as it pushes into Round 2 of competitive bidding, said Geraty.

"We agree with the government that prices at current levels are unsustainable," he said. "Unfortunately, Medicare focuses on the cost of supplies. We would prefer they focus on the bigger picture: prevention, patient engagement and outcomes."

Also in April, BrightSky got a gold seal of approval of sorts when it partnered with the American Diabetes Association on its "Living With Type 2 Diabetes" initiative aimed at newly diagnosed patients. Under the partnership, BrightSky will sponsor educational programs in multiple markets.

"They are really focused on improving lives--we see that as a signal that we are really focused on the right things," said Geraty.