Henry Ford drives new retail model for HME

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

COMMERCE TWP, Mich. - Henry Ford Health Products has kicked off what it believes could be the healthcare boom of the future for HME providers.

In late June, the $40 million provider opened the first of several "Self-Health Centers" for the long-term treatment of chronic health conditions. Initially, the centers will provide services, education and a mix of cash and reimbursed product for people with congestive heart failure, COPD and diabetes. But eventually, Vice President Steve Serra said, he expects the frail elderly, a large and growing population, to be the company's "ultimate sweet spot."

 "For our industry, it's a necessity to get into this space as quick as we can because other people are going to try and fill it," he said. "We've got to find a different way to survive in this market, and one of the things I was reading about was chronic care."

As reimbursement drops, this hybrid retail/clinical model gives the HME provider a higher-profile in the continuum of care. It allows him to partner more closely with physicians to supply homecare products and services to the patient throughout his disease state, Serra said.

In developing the Self-Health Centers, Henry Ford learned through a series of focus groups with doctors, patients and other stakeholders that many people don't like to visit standard HME locations.

"We had numerous people say to us, 'I won't come in your store. I send my wife,'" Serra said. "They find stores with wheelchairs embarrassing. It affects their dignity. I kind of knew that, but when you have the research in front of you, you go, 'Oh, my gosh.'"

The centers carry wheelchairs, commodes, oxygen tanks and other standard HME products but stores them in a back room out of sight. The showroom store has more of a lifestyle feel, with products arranged in real-life kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room "display rooms."

If a patient chooses, he can work with a certified health coach (see story below ) who will help him set and meet healthcare goals.

"Our company has always focused on the products to improve a patient's life," Serra said.  "The Self-Health Centers, on the other hand, will emphasize patient involvement in selecting their own health goals and also provide behavioral support and interactive wellness services."

It's still early, but the reception so far to the center has been great, he said.

"Just from our press release, the Detroit News  wants to do an article, and the three local TV stations want to come out," he said. "One of my fears is that the concept could sell so quickly that it overwhelms us."

Health coaches produce results                                                                                                        By Mike Moran Executive Editor

Certified health coaches play a key role in Henry Ford Health Products' new Self-Health Center. The coaches help patients develop strategies and goals--often based on a doctor's orders--to better manage a health problem. Henry Ford's certified health coach Jim Cameron talked to HME News recently and discussed how he works with patients.

HME News: First, explain a little about how a health coach works.

Jim Cameron: Health coaches try to help people figure out what it is they need to do. Help them find their own motivation. Help them create their own plans. Have them accept the responsibility for changing their health.

HME: For example, say a doctor tells someone they need to lose weight and gives them a diet to follow. How would you work with that person?

Cameron: I'm not going to tell them what to do. I'm going to say, '"Tell me what it is you are here to see me for today."  I'm going to ask why this is important to him. If he does lose weight, how will it change his life? I'm listening to him. I'm not even asking a lot of questions. They motivate themselves based on the conversation we have.

HME: It sounds a little like psychology.

Cameron: Some of the tools we use are the same, but psychologist go into the patient's past. We don't do that in coaching. We focus on the future. We want to create a compelling vision so they can outgrow their problems.

HME: What kind of success rate do you have?

Cameron: Research shows that, if a physician tells someone to eat better and lose weight, the success rate is between 5% and 10%. In the coaching model, personally, I'm getting movement on about 75% of the people I work with. They actually make some change and another 15% make substantial changes.

HME: Success then, is not achieving everything they want but moving in the right direction?

Cameron: Yes. Most people have unreasonable expectations in the first place. They get to a place where they are comfortable and feel they are back in control of their life and they are very happy. The key issue is being in control.