HME by the numbers

Monday, November 3, 2014

We’re inundated with numbers these days. 

There will be 20 million more Americans over the age of 65 by 2022 (from 2008). Overall health are spending continues to grow at close to 6% per year projected for the next 10 years, with HME/DME expenditures (all types) expected to double in the same time period. 

Even with the “let’s have a death spiral of bids for HME to stop fraud” nonsense, combined with the “audit ‘til they go away” attack, overall expenditures for home care continue to rise. These issues have led to a precipitous decline in our ability to take care of the legitimate needs of patients and their families. Reimbursement cuts of nearly 50% for the same items simply cannot equal the historic level of quality and care afforded by our industry. 

We have more to do, with less to do it with! 

The numbers help tell the story, but they’re only part of it. Behind them is a grim reality of patients who can’t get even basic equipment in a timely manner, HME providers who are closing their businesses, and frustrated doctors and hospitals that can’t understand why we aren’t more responsive to the legitimate needs of patients. 

We in the business need to do a better job of explaining why there are growing problems. And we need to try to find ways to survive for ourselves, our patients and the healthcare system that needs us. To survive, and even prosper, in this hostile environment we need to focus and know the numbers.

If we pay attention, there are numbers that can help us find niches and havens where we can still do some honest business with less interference and unnecessary costs. There are numbers out there on who are the high-value referral sources for the products that they can still supply to patients and get paid for. The HME version of “Big Data” has become more cost-effective, and those that take advantage of these numbers can implement creative, product-specific strategies to build their profitable products and services lines efficiently and quickly.

There are numbers that can tell you if a doctor in your area is prescribing a specific product and who is supplying that product. This helps you determine how to deploy your staff, capture orders and know whether your efforts are bearing fruit, or need to be fine tuned as time goes by.  

There are also numbers that can provide reliable information for use in merger and acquisition talks.

Of course, patient specific data is confidential, but there is so much to learn that is not protected.

Get the numbers, and make a plan to survive and prosper.

Van G. Miller is CEO and founder of VGM Group, Inc.