Industry call to action

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Those in the industry know that HME’s not a commodity, and now’s the time to spread the word. Here are four ways HME providers help educate their community about the ways they provide service that is clinically sound, patient-preferred and cost-effective.

Re-evaluate your name

Provider Gary Sheehan doesn’t refer to his company as an “HME provider.” Instead, Cape Medical Supply is a post-acute care company, he says. The difference isn’t just semantics—it elevates the provider to its well-deserved spot on the continuum of patient care, experts say.

“There is such a negative connotation when you talk about HME or DME with policy makers,” says consultant Vernon Pertelle. “We’ve been too focused on the equipment because that’s where we get paid.”

Start small, start local

“Get the folks you work with every day to understand, then take it up a level,” says Sheehan. “If the case managers know and appreciate the work you do, does the VP? Does the director? Does the COO?”

Even small community hospitals can be $500 million operations, he says, and they have a lot more sway in the community and with legislators than HME providers.

Get the data

The VGM Group’s Alan Morris works with providers to integrate a tool from HealthCall into their workflow that tracks patient outcomes, satisfaction and quality-of-life factors. Collecting such data will be critical to establishing relationships with local ACOs, but it can also be the building blocks of industry-wide outcomes data, he says.

Don’t give up on service

Pertelle sees too many providers cutting service-oriented employees like respiratory therapists and moving toward becoming mere logistics companies. That’s the opposite of what the industry should be doing, he says, if it wants to convey the value HME brings to the continuum of care.