Helping patients 'Breathe Wright'

Friday, August 31, 2007

Wright & Filippis, a full-line home medical equipment provider best known for orthotics and prosthetics, unveiled a disease management program this summer that it hopes will make it a leader in treating COPD.
Through its "Breathe Wright" program, the Rochester Hills, Mich.-based Wright & Filippis plans to be physicians' "eyes and ears" in the home, said Julia Prins, an RT who heads up the provider's respiratory department.
"When we talk to patients about COPD, they look at us and say, 'I have a disease? No one's told me that,'" she said. "They immediately want to know if it's contagious. Physicians want their patients educated, but they don't have time to do it all."
Wright & Filippis has had a program for COPD patients for more than a year, but the provider "beefed it up" this year to include more intensive assessments, said CEO Tim Hatt. RTs now conduct environmental evaluations in patients' homes and quiz them on their eating, sleeping, exercising and smoking habits.
Additionally, Wright & Filippis now collects patient data on the number of emergency room visits, hospital stays and unscheduled physician visits.
"We want to be able to give referral sources hard data that supports the program," Hatt said.
Another new component to the program: Upon enrollment, patients now receive a peak flow meter to encourage more meaningful conversations between patients and physicians, Prins said.
"Instead of calling their physicians and saying they don't feel good, they can give them their measurements," she said.
Wright & Filippis markets the program to physicians, who then write a "blanket prescription" for the provider to assess patients every six months, Hatt said.
Re-rolling out the program required extensive preparation, officials said. Wright & Filippis held six training sessions across the state for everyone from RTs to customer service representatives.
Coming soon: Wright & Filippis plans to roll out a similar program for sleep disordered breathing patients.