Creativity can lift providers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A brain trust of HME providers met for the HME News Business Summit in September to discuss—not the obstacles of the moment—but the opportunities of the future.

One speaker said the way to grab those opportunities by the horns is thinking progressively.

“What’s going on in Washington, D.C., isn’t going to stop,” said Mike Bailey, CEO of Handi Medical Supply, who sat on a panel of HME Excellence Award winners. “The providers who are going to make it—I don’t know if size is going to be as important as creativity.”

The following are two snapshots from the event that speak to how providers can bend the business rules for HME.

Take a 360-degree view

Healthcare providers are sitting on an arsenal of data, and HME providers are no different. But what are HME providers doing with that data? Printing out fragmented and historic reports?

“Reporting is what; analytics is why,” said speaker Gregg Timmons, president and CEO of MedAct Software.

Simply put, analytics is a data-mining tool that allows users to make sense of patterns, said speaker Geoff Kearney, founder and CEO of Praedx.

“It helps give you a 360-view of your business,” he said.

If HME providers marry different types of data—both operational and financial—they’ll get that more complete picture, speakers said.

“Taking your analytics and marrying your DSO to HCPCs to denials—then you start to get some powerful information,” said speaker Steve Andrews, general manager of customer service for Brightree.

Speaker Chris Kinard, director of corporate systems development for Long’s Home Medical, said he puts data in the driver’s seat.

“The info is there to make the right decision,” he said. “You just need to extract it and understand it. Our confidence comes from what the data is telling us.”

Think beyond traditional reimbursement

While reimbursement for telehealth services is still spotty, that’s changing, said speaker Dr. Cynthia LeRouge, an associate professor at Saint Louis University and a telehealth expert.

“Sixteen states now have to reimburse for services,” she said. “The door has opened a little—it’s a matter of keeping it ajar.”

One possibility that may be new to the radar screens of HME providers: grants through organizations like the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth or OAT, LeRouge said.

One thing’s clear: A multitude of factors are driving growth in telehealth, including the desire to reduce healthcare costs by keeping high maintenance patients in their homes whenever possible, LeRouge said.

“No one has found the silver bullet to treat people with chronic conditions,” she said.