Helping providers be heroes

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SUPERIOR, Colo. – The CPAP Horizon Project (CHP) has joined the fray of companies offering apps to help patients manage their sleep therapy, but founder Doug Hudiburg says providers are the drivers behind his.

Providers access the app, called ManageMyCPAP, through a $99 annual membership with CHP and make it available for free to patients. They also brand it with their company information, he says.

“They’re the hero in this process,” Hudiburg said. “They’re playing the critical role, but they don’t get any credit.”
Two major manufacturers recently released apps, but their focus is largely on the patients and helping them to access feedback, tutorials and data (See “Compliant patient, efficient HME provider,” August 2013).

Additionally, CHP’s app, currently being beta tested, works for providers and patients using any equipment and supplies from the major manufacturers, Hudiburg says.

“We hope to provide an alternative that’s one central management app,” he said. “Providers and patients need a place that’s device agnostic.”
While all CHP members have access to a basic version of the app that features product videos and a private messaging system for Q&As, they can also pay a fee per patient to turn on additional capabilities, like e-commerce, Hudiburg says.

“Patients have an equipment profile and, with a few clicks, they can reorder supplies,” he said. “It’s like the self-service aspect of online banking.”

All of this helps providers reduce their patient-to-employee ratio, an attractive proposition in today’s reimbursement climate, Hudiburg says.

“It allows the provider to manage more patients without hiring more people,” he said. “It’s doing the right thing, but in a profitable way.”

Provider Mark Ehlers realizes that apps have become ubiquitous, but when it comes to sleep therapy, he’s still old school.

“I’d say 80% of the people walking into my store have no intention of getting on an app—they want customer service,” said Ehlers, owner of Ehlers Health Supply in Stockton, Calif. “We reach out to patients in the traditional way, by phone and mail, and we try to get them in here every three or six months to reorder supplies and check their machines.”

But provider Greg LoPresti believes technology and touch, combined, can have positive results.

“These tools may not be appropriate for everyone, but the more options, the better,” said LoPresti, senior vice president and CEO of Upstate HomeCare in Clinton, N.Y. “It’s not just younger people anymore—my Mom, who is 79, texts and Facebooks.”