Educational seminars get back to basics

Thursday, September 30, 2004

ORLANDO - The HME industry may be getting increasingly complex in the wake of all the regulatory and legislative mandates issued during the past year, but that only reinforces the demand for pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts business topics at Medtrade seminars, say educational planners.

If anything, the need for instruction on how to run a profitable business is more paramount than ever, program organizers note, as companies search for ways to preserve margins amid the turmoil of looming Medicare reimbursement cuts.

Bob Fary, vice president of sales for Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Inogen is engineering the respiratory educational segment and maintains that basics are a major emphasis.

“Attendees will see more and more practical sessions to help them run their respiratory businesses from clinical and financial aspects,” he said. “They will learn methods of how to cope with reimbursement changes and be more efficient and effective in providing excellent therapy to the patients they serve.”

Along with a solid dose of business instruction, the respiratory track will also cover the latest status of regulatory developments such as AWP, competitive bidding and FEHBP.

On the reimbursement end, attendees continue to look for the staples, said coordinator Kim Brummet.

“They want information on the intake process, taking referrals, proper order taking, how to say ‘no’ and staffing,” said Brummet, vice president of contracting and reimbursement for Greenville, N.C.-based Advanced Home Care.

One topic generating a lot of interest is audits and documentation, Brummet said, because more companies than ever are being scrutinized.

“The medical documentation we’re challenged to produce is causing us to change our intake,” she said. “CMNs don’t seem to be considered definitive documentation, so a lot of us are reviewing operational processes to see what we have, like a copy of the actual lab study.”

Panel presentations and group roundtables have proven to be popular formats, and more are on tap for this year’s Medtrade, said facilitator Jack Evans.

“Over the years there has been a great corps of speakers at Medtrade, so it seemed like a natural idea to bring them together for panels,” said Evans, president of Malibu, Calif.-based Global Media Marketing. “That way you can hear them together in areas of interest. We have the best experts in one place, one room on one topic.”

Because mandatory accreditation is a distinct possibility for the HME industry, Medtrade is hosting an Accreditation Summit during the show to explore its ramifications, said Ann Howard, director of federal policy at AAHomecare.

Howard will serve as moderator for the three-hour session and panelists will represent the three accrediting agencies – JCAHO, CHAP and ACHC.

“We want to know what distinguishes each program, their requirements, costs and time frames between application and review,” she said. “Other questions include whether they have the capacity to handle the number of companies that apply, how much of an administrative burden it is for applicants and the amount of changes it will require.”