Reagan 'ministers' to patients

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CONYERS, Ga. – Provider Jeff Reagan is “seriously committed” to increasing his hospice business to reduce his dependence on Medicare.

In October, he finalized four new contracts.

“We’ve done hospice for several years, but in the last two, we’ve been (ramping it up),” said Reagan, owner of Reagan Home Care Pharmacy. “You never know with national competitive bidding. What if you don’t get the bid?”

Hospice comprises 70% of Reagan Home Care Pharmacy’s HME business these days.

Serving hospice patients—the provider currently has about 500—requires a certain nimbleness, said Reagan. There is little advance notice for a patient entering hospice care and patient turnover is a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.

“Our response time has to be much faster,” said Reagan. “Their average length of stay is about 45 days so we are constantly picking up and delivering equipment at a much faster rate.”

That means a higher cost of doing business—for a lower reimbursement—which Reagan offsets through efficient business practices.

“We’ve upgraded our computer system and we use GPS to track vehicles,” he said. “Everybody uses radio communication. We’re curbing our administrative expenses, and we are more efficient at reducing delivery times.”

Reagan provides standard DME like hospital beds and wheelchairs, along with respiratory equipment, to the hospices, either through fee-for-service or per diem contracts. Other items, like bariatric equipment and alternating pressure mattresses, are offered at an additional charge. Reagan can also provide pharmaceuticals—including compounded medications—to hospice patients.

Reagan Home Care Pharmacy has 48 employees and serves about “half the state of Georgia.”

Reagan, who has had several family members use hospice, says he is doing the right thing.

“I view my business as a ministry and this is something we can do,” he said. “At the end of the day, I feel I’ve made a difference.”