Readmissions: HME Key to reductions

Monday, December 1, 2014

ATLANTA – Home medical equipment is instrumental in keeping chronically ill patients from being readmitted to the hospital and it is time providers realized that, says Kelly Riley, senior director of the MED Respiratory and Sleep Networks. 

At a Medtrade presentation, Riley told attendees that there are various opportunities for HME to keep readmissions in check.

Readmissions are one of the major cost drivers in healthcare and CMS is starting to levy substantial monetary penalties for readmissions within 30 days of discharge. Two of the most common conditions that cause readmission fall squarely into the HME wheelhouse: congestive heart failure and COPD.

CHF in particular is a prime cause for readmission, Riley said, pointing out that 25% of heart failure patients are readmitted within 30 days.

HME providers can become integral players in the prevention of CHF readmissions through adequate respiratory care and sleep therapy as well as providing durable medical equipment to these patients. Specifically, CPAP therapy for sleep apnea could be a major contributor to reducing readmissions based on a study of more than 30,000 CHF patients, Riley said. While only 572 of those studied were tested for apnea, an astounding 97% came up positive for it.

The HME community needs to methodically track and gauge the positive impact of oxygen, hospital beds, CPAP, aids for daily living and home safety and monitoring have on preventing patient readmissions, Riley said.

“We need to think outside the box,” she said. “I’m not talking about upselling or outselling—I’m talking about enhanced patient care.”