Business Summit digs up valuable HME data
CHICAGO - HME News and its corporate sponsors had one thing in mind when they hosted a seminal conference here in mid-September: Tell the story behind all the data being collected by the home medical equipment industry.
"Our purpose is to raise the industry's awareness that this data is out there and consolidate it in one place," said Rick Rector, publisher of HME News. "Providers can show this information to their legislators to prove the value of homecare."
One of the most eye-opening figures presented at the conference zeroed in on just how large the HME market really is: $25 billion. Poring over reams of data from CMS, the National Supplier Clearinghouse, the DMERCs and other organizations like AAHomecare, HME News researchers ascertained that $9.8 billion in revenues comes from Medicare and other federal programs; $9 billion from retail; $3.8 billion from commercial insurance and $2.4 billion from Medicaid and other state programs.
The total is more than twice as large as what industry pundits like Alison Cherney previously thought.
"I always figured it was in the $8 billion to $10 billion range," said Cherney, president of Brentwood, Tenn.-based consulting firm Cherney & Associates.
Overall, the conference turned out to be an epic narration that detailed not only the size, but also the scope, breadth, purpose and potential of the marketplace. The data has always been there, organizers of the HME News Business Summit said, but no one had ever taken the time to figure out what it all means. Moreover, now that some reliable figures have been extracted and tabulated, the HME supply chain can use it to improve business operations, patient care, lobbying efforts and competitive bidding strategies.
"The industry has talked about integrating data for years, but there has been too much emphasis placed on hunches and anecdotes," said Jim Sullivan, senior editor for HME News and conference organizer. "This is the first attempt to speak in numbers, not words."
What kind of numbers? Those that matter, such as census, demographics, revenue, expenditures, utilization, billing and outcomes. For the better part of a year, HME News worked with some of the most respected thinkers in the industry to collect, analyze and present raw data in a series of cogent, often fascinating seminars.
After an introductory session that quantified the size of the HME market, session leaders correlated how the 155 attendees (mostly providers) could apply the data to their own businesses.
Providing a global perspective were Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., the only member of Congress in the HME business; Cara Bachenheimer, vice president of government relations for Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare; and a panel of Wall Street analysts led by Dexter Braff, president of Pittsburgh, Pa.-based The Braff Group.
Encouraged by the attendance and sponsorship from industry heavyweights like Invacare, Murrysville, Pa.-based Respironics and Longmont, Colo.-based Sunrise, HME News has scheduled another summit in Baltimore next year as well as a "shirt sleeve" version of the Chicago program at Medtrade 2005.
"We plan on this becoming an annual event," said Brook Taliaferro, HME News editorial director. "This is about putting arrows in the industry's quiver."