Joseph Lewarski: Build strategy around change
VIENNA, Va. – After working within the HME sector from many angles—provider, manufacturer, member services organization—Joseph Lewarski has added consultant to his resume. In that role at GRQ, a boutique healthcare consulting firm based in Vienna, Virginia, he will help create sound strategic and business development plans for companies trying to navigate the evolving healthcare landscape. Here’s what Lewarski, most recently vice president of clinical affairs at Invacare, had to say about where he hopes to steer those companies.
HME News: Why have you stuck with this field?
Joseph Lewarski: I’ve always believed, even when I first got into home care in the 90s, that it would become the primary place to provide health care. That’s becoming more and more true with the focus on wellness, clinical outcomes and cost effectiveness. Hospitals and acute care will always exist, but there are many new models of care developing, some we don’t even know about yet. For me, it’s understanding this on a macro level, and applying it on a micro level with different organizations and trying to align them all.
HME: As you’re surveying the evolving landscape, what kinds of questions are you asking of yourself and your clients?
Lewarski: Everyone is looking at ways to be more holistic in the management of patients and health care overall. From a strategic perspective, where is health care going to be provided? What role will different organizations play in the delivery of care?
HME: We’ve written a lot about how HME providers are changing course in the face of this changing landscape, but what about HME manufacturers?
Lewarski: Technology needs are definitely going to change. Insurance companies are creating plans to accommodate cost and they’re shifting more of the out-of-pocket expenses to the user. As consumers have more skin in the game, they become more active in the process. So there’s a greater level of consumerism. If you look at non-medical devices, look at Fitbit (a device that allows users to track daily activity, calories burned, sleep and weight). It’s $100. The whole space is changing.
HME: What does this greater level of consumerism mean for HME manufacturers specifically?
Lewarski: In the next decade, I think they need to be thinking about how products get to patients differently. There are going to be different business models that come out of this. I’m not saying one will go away or will be replaced, but there will be different business models. The current method has too many levels and too much cost, and everyone sees it. Certain therapies are service intensive—they require a human touch—so I don’t think everything will become a remote business model, but there are things that can be done differently.
HME: Traditionally, the HME industry hasn’t been one to change course quickly.
Lewarski: The companies that are coming into health care from the technology space or the industrial space—they don’t have the prior biases about how care is supposed to be delivered and they’re coming up with better mousetraps. You need to be building an idea and a strategy around change. The things that got us here may not be what drives us in the future.