The post-acute pack: Can HME provides come out on top?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Post-acute care, including HME, is the Wild Wild West of health care, and that’s a good thing, several speakers said at the 11th annual HME News Business Summit in September.

In response to government pressure, hospitals are flooding their systems with data (think zettabytes) and changing their delivery models (think value vs. fee for service), but where and how they plug in post-acute care, while an increasing priority, is still very much to be determined.

“It’s a big opportunity,” said Fletcher Lance, managing director and national healthcare lead for the North Highland Company, who kicked off the Summit on Sept. 14 at the Nashville Marriott on the Vanderbilt University campus.

Lance offered up as an example of the opportunity a recent move by Cardinal Health, which distributes pharmaceuticals and medical products to hospitals, to spend $290 million to buy 71% of naviHealth, a three-year-old company that manages post-acute care services for those hospitals.

As providers jockey for position in a changing marketplace, they’ll want to keep a hyper-local focus, speakers said. Why? All hospitals may be focused on disease management, for example, but they’re probably doing it in different ways, they said.

“If you’ve seen one hospital, you’ve seen one hospital,” said Jim Hollingshead, president of ResMed Americas, during a panel on the HME provider’s role in connected health. “You need to talk to your actual customer because there’s so much variability.”

When they have these conversations with hospitals, providers will also want to walk the talk, speakers said.

“Use the language the referral source is looking for,” said Robin Randolph, marketing manager for North America for Fisher & Paykel.

While the short-term focus of hospitals may be on collecting data and changing delivery models, providers shouldn’t lose sight of the reason behind all the activity: improving care and reducing cost.

“The $100 million question is, what are you doing about it?” said Dave Gilbert, CEO of Evermind, a technology that tracks the use of home electrical appliances and powered medical equipment.