HME NewsPoll: Are providers ready to help reduce re-admissions?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to helping hospitals reduce re-admission rates, according to the latest HME NewsPoll.

"Until this poll, I have not thought about this question and have not been asked by the hospital staff to help in this situation," said James Hagan, president of Community Home Medical in Sellersberg, Ind.

He's not alone. Of the 120 providers who responded to the poll, 81% indicated that they currently do not have a program in place to help hospitals reduce re-admissions.

It may be time for providers to take another look at that. The Affordable Care Act includes provisions that provide incentives to hospitals and physician groups to reduce re-admission rates. HME providers who serve patients with chronic conditions like COPD, asthma and congestive heart failure, are well positioned to help them reach those goals.

While it may be relatively uncommon, there are providers who are doing it, and doing it well.

"We have been very deeply involved in this for one and a half years," said Kim Wiles, vice president of respiratory services for Klingensmith HealthCare in Ford City, Pa. "To date, we have proven we can reduce the 30-day re-admission rate for COPD to 4%, with 25% being the average in western Pennsylvania."

But most providers feel they have their work cut out for them. Half of poll respondents, 51%, described their relationship with their local hospital as "poor."

"Hospitals are not looking at a relationship with HME providers," said one provider. "It is difficult if not impossible to get an appointment with hospital staff."

Echoed another: "We have been in business for more than four years and have been unable to get in with any hospitals. They will not give us a chance."

Twenty-three percent of providers rated their relationship with hospitals as "fair," while another 26% described it as "excellent." A provider that falls into that last category: Juli Kupperman, office manager for Cherub Medical Supply.

"The hospitals will often contact us for situations that require a delicate touch," she said. "Being a pediatric company, it behooves us to work closely with the caretakers of our tiny patients. We feel it gives us an advantage over larger, impersonal companies.