Panelists: It's not a lost cause

Sunday, May 31, 2009

BALTIMORE--Providers need to create a strong clinical platform if they want to be paid for their services in this era of declining reimbursement, said a panel of respiratory providers at the HME Exposition & Conference in April.

The respiratory industry has been especially hard hit by reimbursement cuts, including a 36-month cap on oxygen and a 9.5% cut. Yet, the cost of doing business continues to increase, with higher expectations from patients, health plans, governing bodies and accreditors. Believe it or not, there are still ways to cut costs and locate additional revenue streams, said panel members.

Optimizing clinician time

Providers should take a hard look at how their respiratory therapists are spending their time. Are they doing pick-ups? Completing reams of paperwork? If so, that may not be the best use of their skills, said Kelly Garber, national director of respiratory services for Apria.

“Question everything,” she said. “Maybe support personnel can be helpful in contacting patients or setting up appointments,” thus freeing RTs to focus on clinical tasks.

‘Delivery doesn’t add value to your business’

Pay for delivery drivers to become certified in repairs, said panelists.

“I don’t need to send an RT, I can send a tech to do a repair on-site,” said Terry McDonald, president of AirSense. “Pulse ox (readings) are also done by service techs.”

‘Don’t give it away’

The intent of Medicare is to pay for oxygen therapy for homebound patients, said McDonald. Providers shouldn’t shy away from charging for extra services.

“Look at POC rentals,” she told attendees. “If patients have the money to go on a cruise, those patients can pay for services that Medicare does not pay for.”