MEND the Prescription Drug Act

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Editor, HME News

While the industry frets over legislated and regulated changes and feels cleaved internally by a couple of issues, there are grounds for a unanimous welcome to some news this month. Both developments involve Apria, and both are good for all HMEs.

In February, Apria signed a deal with Trac Medical that, perhaps more than any other development since CMS said go ahead with e-CMNs, makes the e-CMN a viable part of everyone’s future. Why? For starters, Apria processes about three million written orders and paper CMNs annually. In a couple of years, they’d like about 80% of that volume to be moving electronically.

The single greatest impediment to that journey is physician inertia. Intellectually, of course, the idea of the e-CMN appeals to Dr. Jones. He’s tired of being dogged by HME companies who, however politely, come back to him because this or that part of the CMN wasn’t filled out correctly. e-CMNs preclude that kind of bugging cause red flags start flying when a doctor’s office makes a data entry mistake. Indeed, the CMN won’t ‘send’ unless it’s filled out appropriately.

But docs are people, too. Like most of us, they’re out of the loop on most of the really cool stuff, and it’s easier to do things as you always have rather than climb a learning curve to something new.

Enter Apria. Apria’s not insignificant sales force is going to start talking about e-CMNs in doctor’s offices from Washington to Florida. The buzz is likely to transcend those offices and is likely to gain currency with doctors all over. This is a milestone. Let’s look at it for a moment (particularly because looking at most everything else these days is grim.)

The other good news is about an Apria CPAP study. And let me go out on a limb here. The best part about this news - beyond the fact that Apria has proved that you can save money and achieve great clinical outcomes by bringing people in to fit them with CPAP - is that Apria is talking about it.

They’re telling the rest of the industry about these new benchmarks and how they go them. When’s the last time another national HME disclosed the results of a clinical study that everyone can piggyback?

At AAHomecare’s Leadership Conference in San Diego, an ad hoc committee of HME companies came together with a goal to start justifying the value of home care with real scientific data. The more of this, the better. The sooner, the better, too.

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