Constant contact

Monday, June 6, 2011

MOUNT CARMEL, Ind. – Medicare rules require that HME providers increase their contact with patients. But providers should view that as an opportunity, not as a constraint, says Phil Sever, CEO of CMB Solutions.

Providers, for example, must contact their sleep patients to make sure they’re using their CPAP devices and to see whether they need new supplies like masks.

“You can’t look at these requirements as negatives,” Sever said. “You have to turn them into positives. A lot of patients have no idea who their HME provider is. Contact them. If you want to be competitive in the market going forward, you have to know your patient, and maximize revenue and profit from that patient.”

CMB Solutions came onto the scene last year, offering providers a range of customer contact services, including automated calls to patients who need routine supplies and patients who may need repairs.

There are other companies that already offer these services to providers, namely medSage Technologies (see related story in the August issue of HME News). But those companies are focused on supply replenishment for CPAP patients, Sever said.

“We’re focused on any renewable prescription,” he said. “It doesn’t make a difference if it’s a mask or test strips or compression hosiery.”

Also setting CMB Solutions apart, Sever says: It contacts patients not only by phone but also by e-mail and text.

“It depends on the sophistication of the patient and whether the provider has that information,” he said.

CMB Solutions will also work with providers to customize its services and then turn around and offer those services to all of its provider customers. That’s what sold provider Ann Cornelius on the company. She wants to use the company’s services to follow up with oxygen patients and find out, for example, whether they’re out of breath during daily chores. That way, she can determine if they’re good candidates for other HME.

“We’ve been trying to do this with our own manpower for a long time, but we can’t keep up,” said Cornelius, manager of the continuing care department at Columbus, Ohio-based Dasco Home Medical Equipment.

Depending on the number of patients a provider wants to contact, CMB Solutions charges anywhere from 30 cents to $2 per patient per month, Sever said.

“It doesn’t have to be a scary, spend-a-lot-of-money proposition,” he said.