Medtrade educators plan to feed info-starved attendees

Sunday, August 31, 2003

ATLANTA – When talking about the importance of Medtrade’s education program, Group Show Director Cory Smith sums it up this way: “I have worked in several different industries and the HME industry, by far, is the hungriest for information.”

Indeed, seminars have always been well attended at Medtrade, but with the tumult of new HIPAA regulations, a proposed consumer price index freeze (CPI) and possible national competitive bidding for Medicare durable medical equipment, attendees will likely be even more starved than usual for information this year.

Organizers of the 2003 Medtrade Conference Sessions plan on serving up an educational banquet for attendees, with co-sponsors VNU Expositions and the American Association for Homecare providing the catering. The schedule, beginning with the Medtrade Continuum of Care Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and running through Saturday, Oct. 11, is the first seminar program under AAHomecare’s auspices.

Although the association has implemented no radical changes in the format, there are some notable alterations and the scope of programs has been broadened to include home health and pharmacy clinicians along with the traditional HME audience. For instance, this year’s Continuum of Care Conference has been expanded, offering home health nursing, rehab and assistive technology and respiratory/sleep disorder tracks.

The day-long workshop offers continuing education credits from the American Association for Respiratory Care, Visiting Nurses Association, National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers and Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America. The Academy of Certified Case Managers eastern regional conference (see related story in this section) will be held in conjunction with the show and a greater number of home health and pharmacy attendees are also expected.

It’s a development that is long overdue for Medtrade, said Kathleen Moreo, director of the Medtrade Educational Planning Committee’s Home Health Nursing category.

“Home health nurses and HME providers have come together in the post acute environment, but this conference has historically segregated us out,” she said. “We don’t work in silos. The lines of demarcation are blurring.”

Caregivers from both sides are involved with patient assessment, stratifying patients into disease management programs and even more clinically intensive regimens.

“In order to do this successfully, we need to speak the same language,” she said. “We need a less fragmented system.”

Likewise, the role of pharmacy is playing a greater role in the home care continuum, said G.J. Walley, who is in charge of Medtrade’s Pharmacy component.

“We’re noticing more and more attendees have some type of affiliation with a pharmacy,” he said. “Either through a pharmacy that already offers HME or one that is interested in getting into the HME business.”

Besides trying to appeal to a broader audience, Medtrade conference organizers are also fine-tuning their focus on the programs designed for their core HME constituency, said Jack Evans, coordinator of the Sales and Marketing track.

“Every day will start out with a special seminar tailored to attendees, and each day it will feature something different,” he said. “Attendees have told us they want something different other than the same old seminars under the same heading.”

One way to deliver on that expectation is to offer more panel discussions, Evans said.

“Anytime you can assemble a panel, you get different points of view on the same subject,” he said. “That is very valuable.”

Reimbursement and legislative/legal issues are traditional topics, but given the gravity of the current climate, they carry even more weight now, say Medtrade Educational Planning Committee members.

On the reimbursement side, interest is high among providers in learning more about Medicare advanced beneficiary notices, said committee member Kim Brummett.

“It may seem like an old issue, but new people come into the industry every year and confusion still exists about the audit processes and how to get paid,” she said.

Jeff Baird, who planned the legal/legislative program, has the same outlook.

“It seems like nobody understands ABNs,” he said. “It’s not a hard concept, but to many it might as well be Swahili.”

Proper billing practices, medical necessity documentation, post-payment audits and provider relationships are also key legal issues, Baird said. HME