Providers put services on chopping block

Friday, April 18, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine – An overwhelming majority of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll (91%) said lower reimbursement has driven them to cut back on services over the last year.

The area where they’ve cut the most: deliveries (44%).

“(We) simply can’t afford to send a service technician to a patient’s home for free,” said Roger Lichty of Rockford, Ill.-based RRTS Mobility Connection.

Instead, companies like Granada Hills, Ca.-based Wishing U Well Medical ask patients to pick up supplies or drop ship orders to them.

“Most people understand,” wrote Bruce Sandler, president and CEO.

That’s not the case for everyone: 75 of the 116 respondents to the poll reported unhappy patients.

“Because we have always delivered equipment and patients were used to that service, they are very angry that they now need to pick up equipment,” wrote one respondent.

Some respondents report that, over time, patients become accustomed to fewer services.

“We made changes beginning three years ago with once-a-month oxygen cylinder deliveries and only visiting our oxygen patients in their homes once a year,” wrote one respondent. “A lot of patients were angry, but after six months, it was routine for everyone.”

Deliveries aren’t the only service on the chopping block. Twenty percent of those cutting services said they have reduced patient outreach, and 13% said they conduct fewer maintenance and repair calls.

“We will soon be limiting the amount of monthly refills,” said Rick Wilson, a provider in Woodland Hills, Calif. “We are charging service call fees for any capped equipment. No more donation equipment to the non-insured. After the 60th month, we are moving patients off service ASAP.”