Costs don't always add up

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Barry Berger may simply have been ahead of his time when he embraced telehealth way back in 2010.

The former HME provider offered a subscription monitoring service, where the company could monitor the patient’s blood pressure, weight and pulse ox rate.

“I had 20 units, but would only have 10 or 11 out at any given time,” said Berger, now president of Accredited Nursing in Woodland Hills, Calif. “It was difficult for me to justify paying all that money to have the units sit on the shelf.”

However, the intervening five years have brought a lot of change to health care, he says. These days the focus is on preventing readmissions, certain medical groups assuming risk for patients, and hospitals bundling payments for certain services.

“I am guessing that acceptance of telehealth will increase,” said Berger.

What he’s not sure about is whether it’s applicable to the HME market.

“Who’s going to monitor it?” said Berger. “With us a home health company, we can monitor it on our own.”

Then there are the costs, he says, including delivery and set-up, and picking the device back up and cleaning it to get it ready for the next patient.

“That’s part of the problem with HME,” said Berger. “There’s always these soft costs people don’t realize until they get into the program.”