LifeHME spreads tentacles beyond traditional payers

Friday, September 26, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In November 2013, provider Dewey Roof nobly set out to find “a new image that casts us as more than a provider of commodities.”

Finding and securing new relationships has been one of the most formidable challenges for the still fledgling enterprise, called LifeHME. But after nearly a year of searching for partners, Roof says key pieces are falling into place.

“One of the main questions we’ve asked over that time is, ‘Who is the payer?’” he said. “For the first time in our industry’s history, providers are also the payer. We sought them out and although our message wasn’t initially heard loud and clear, they are now realizing what we can do for them and they are coming to us.”

After nearly 20 years, Long’s Drugs split into separate pharmacy and HME businesses last fall, with Roof taking the reins of the HME segment. He changed the name to LifeHME, while the pharmacy continues with the Long’s name. With LifeHME focused on HME and clinical services, Roof also opened a companion business called LifeTouch to manage patient discharges. Both are part of a parent company called LifeH2H (Hospital to Home).

The journey hasn’t been easy, and Roof says there are more obstacles to overcome. Yet, at this point, he can reflect positively on how his Columbia, S.C.-based company has transformed itself into a viable, sustainable entity.

With an eye on serving accountable care organizations (ACOs), Roof’s overarching philosophy is one dedicated to establishing a new methodology for furnishing care and services.

“We are the pivot point for so many people in healthcare delivery, from acute care to the home—we are more than just dropping off a product,” he said. “We are integral to positive outcomes. We can navigate the homecare space. We understand caregiver complications. We are now serving a system that includes hospitals, health systems, skilled nursing facilities, physician clinics and anyone else who is accountable for getting people cared for at home. That’s a lot of people.”

LifeH2H is an 80-member operation built around distribution and patient care management, but Roof visualizes the company as being part of something much larger.

“One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is that the scope of what we need to be is so much more than what we were,” he said. “We need the scalability and we are getting capitalized. In this new era of home care, the scope is much bigger as the tentacles reach out farther.”