Keynote: 'Disconnect' impedes patient care

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BALTIMORE --Back when the field of respiratory therapy was created, recalls Sam Giordano, it bridged the gap between physicians and oxygen patients.

But once patients go home, those bridges lose their supports, according to Giordano, executive director and CEO of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). The result: Patient care suffers, he said.

Giordano will take the stage at the HME Exposition & Conference as keynote speaker at the Home Respiratory Forum. HME News caught up with him recently to hear his perspectives.

HME News: What’s your opinion of the current state of home respiratory care?

Sam Giordano: The system isn’t working as well as it should, (partly because) RT professional services cannot be submitted for reimbursement. No one can work for free and maintain a viable business. There’s a disconnect.

HME: What’s the impact on patient care?

Giordano: It suffers. You have a vacuum, where patients are getting equipment from a technical person, not a clinical person, who can speak to the operation of the equipment but can’t analyze the clinical impact. But patients realize they need access to RTs outside the hospital.

HME: What’s your opinion of the 36-month oxygen cap?

Giordano: CMS wants to constrain costs. We seem to go through cycles of cutting reimbursement until we see a drop-off in services. That’s not the way to go when you’re dealing with human beings.

HME: What do you foresee in the future of home-based respiratory therapy?

Giordano: The community has to get on the same page - physicians, payers, RTs and HMEs - and acknowledge that we need a respiratory care benefit independent from provision of equipment. And it has to be done through lobbying. There’s no way around Capitol Hill on this.