New white paper: Vents are ‘not your ordinary DME’

Friday, August 9, 2019

YARMOUTH, Maine – Providing non-invasive ventilation in the home is expensive, but worth every penny, says Roxanne Vennard, who co-chaired a workgroup of the AAHomecare HME/RT Council that produced a white paper demonstrating the value of the therapy.

“Ventilation is for patients that are medically complex and fragile,” said Vennard, a registered respiratory therapist and president of Ascent Respiratory Care in Greenwood, Village, Colo. “It costs tens of thousands of dollars for these patients to be at a facility.”

With the product category included in Round 2021 of competitive bidding, Vennard spoke with HME news recently about why it’s important to show lawmakers that ventilation is “not your ordinary DME” and shouldn’t be put out to the lowest bidder.

HME News: This white paper really breaks down the labor cost of providing NIV to patients.

Roxanne Vennard: The labor costs for these skilled therapists are much more expensive—I don’t think I pay anyone under $25 an hour. The therapy is intense and needs highly skilled clinicians to support the set-up and ongoing maintenance to maintain patient health at home.

HME: The paper also includes two patient perspectives. Why is that so important?

Vennard: It’s important because of the human aspect to what is happening and some of those unintended consequences that maybe aren’t being thought about. We wanted to at least show there are patients out there going to work or school, shopping, attending plays. Here’s their own experience of what they go through on a daily basis and how would they feel if they weren’t able to have the service or some of the supplies or other equipment that go along with ventilators.

HME: Are you concerned the bid program will create further access issues for patients?

Vennard: Look at what has already happened to the number of DME companies just from the bidding process we’ve already gone through. Here at Ascent, we’ve been asked by a lot of the hospitals here in Colorado that take care of patients from other states, but Wyoming, especially, to take their patients. They cannot find DMEs in their area who are willing to take these patients so that they can go home.

HME: Is it your hope that providers will use this white paper to educate lawmakers about the importance of NIV?

Vennard: Absolutely. We would like everyone going and talking with legislators to share this. We also want them to make sure they can bring something (from their own experience), something that they know will hit home to be able to reiterate how it affects the legislator’s own state.