The post-acute pack: How can HME providers come out on top?

Friday, September 18, 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 last week at the 11th annual HME News Business Summit.

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 HME providers jockey for position in this 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 (the hospital), 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, who also spoke on connected health.

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.

If there was an attendee in the room that was unconvinced of the need for providers to change what they do, how they do it and how they market it, Lance had this to say about the shift toward value-based care.

“The tipping point is getting closer and closer,” he said. “This is for real.”