Patient education: A victim of lean times?

Friday, February 19, 2016

YARMOUTH, Maine – While 75% of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll admit they could be doing a better job educating patients about their therapies, many say they just don’t have the resources.

Since the nationwide roll out of competitive bidding on Jan. 1, respondents say they have had to cut costs by reducing services and staff, both of which take their toll on their ability to educate patients.

“Patient education is always a challenge in these decreasing reimbursement times,” wrote one respondent. “We need to be more efficient with our time.”

Even though resources are stretched thin, a whopping 90% of respondents say they still prefer teaching patients one-on-one, despite a movement by some to educate patients in groups, especially for CPAP therapy.

The reason: Respondents say they don’t want to lose their personal touch.

“We have never done group set ups and we never will,” said Aaron McDonald, owner of Olympia Respiratory Services in Olympia, Wash. “(Even though) I’m sure it would save some money on employee time.”

Limited resources may by why only 10% of respondents say they’re leveraging technology like iPads to provide hands-on, visual education, a business model recently adopted by providers like Cape Medical Supply.

Though, one respondent said, “We use iPads to show a quick safety video for our new oxygen patients.”

Outside resources may be an option for providers struggling to educate their patients, said one respondent. Dwight Hunsberger, owner of Savannah, Ga.-based MedView Systems, is currently developing a patient education system for homecare companies, hospitals and ancillary facilities.

“We’re developing a website that contains videos of medical equipment, respiratory therapy and infusions for homecare patients,” he said.