Outcomes tool reveals HME's value

'This industry is a cost-saver, not a cost-driver'
Friday, June 19, 2015

WATERLOO, Iowa – U.S. Rehab hopes to improve patient care and show CMS the value of proper equipment with the Functional Mobility Assessment tool. 

“If we can show certain products perform better with different patient diagnoses, then eventually we can get CMS to pay for products that might reduce falls or help patients operate better in their day-to-day living,” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab, a division of The VGM Group. 

U.S. Rehab secured exclusive rights to the outcomes tool in May. 

Developed over the last 15 years at the University of Pittsburgh by professors Mark Schmeler and Margo Holm, the FMA tool measures patient satisfaction with assistive devices like walking aids, prosthetics and wheelchairs.

The information is then stored in an online database, which will be analyzed by the university.

“Researchers like me want to show trends and publish the results in a scientific journal,” said Schmeler, an assistant professor at the university’s School of Health and Rehabilitation. “When that gets published it becomes part of scientific knowledge, which is where CMS turns to when they’re writing policy.”

Over time, U.S. Rehab hopes the FMA tool will help reduce pressure sores, readmissions and emergency care, ultimately saving CMS money. 

“I think that’s the ultimate goal,” said Packer. “To prove that this industry is a cost-saver, not a cost-driver.”  

By initially limiting the tool’s use to U.S. Rehab members, UPitt and U.S. Rehab have a chance to work out any “kinks” or glitches before introducing it to a wider market, Schmeler says.

Currently, about 20 U.S. Rehab members are participating in a pilot project using the tool. Once the data collection process is refined, UPitt and U.S. Rehab will roll out the tool to all U.S. Rehab members in 2016.