Ronda Buhrmester and the search for solutions

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Friday, March 27, 2020

WATERLOO, Iowa – Ronda Buhrmester was one of three speakers, along with Laura Williard and Ty Bello, for a webcast in March on COVID-19 that drew more than 800 attendees. Here’s what Burhmester, a reimbursement specialist for VGM, had to say about how the HME industry is trying to keep pace with the dizzying developments around the disease, as well as the changing policies and regulations.

HME News: With so much happening around COVID-19, what was the focus of the webcast?

Ronda Buhrmester: All three of us come from the DME industry, so we looked at it like, if I were still a supplier today, what should I be doing and looking at now. While it’s great that CMS and Trump are making changes quickly to adapt to the virus, they’re policy makers. They’re not living in the real world where we are. The DME industry is on the front lines.

HME: What’s something providers are most concerned about when it comes to COVID-19 and HME?

Buhrmester: There are certain things you still need to follow (despite certain policies and regulations being relaxed). I caution suppliers, based on the calls and questions I’m getting, that it’s not a free for all. There are still rules in place. Oxygen and vents are a little different, but if you’re putting a hospital bed in the home, the LCDs are still there and you still have to follow them. That is business as usual.

HME: The two things that I’ve seen a lot of chatter about are how to use telehealth to replace in-person visits and how to obtain proof of deliveries.

Buhrmester: Where suppliers can change their businesses a little bit is with the expansion of telehealth. When they first announced the expansion, I was hesitant to say it applied to DME, because I get so protective of our members and I don’t want them to get hurt in an audit, but it does apply to DME, as long as certain guidelines are met, including that it needs to be for an established patient.

HME: What about proof of deliveries?

Buhrmester: This is an area where things are changing quickly. For supplies, it’s easy enough to ship with a shipping service and there’s an invoice with the items shipped. A lot of it is using your best judgment. Some suppliers are all electronic, so if a patient refuses to sign electronically, go old school with paper and have them use their own pen. If a patient doesn't want to open the door, a supplier and patient can slide paper back and forth under the door. There’s also getting a picture of the delivery. The MACs say that suppliers should do their best to obtain proof of deliveries.

HME: What’s an issue that, at the time of us talking, still hasn’t been addressed?

Buhrmester: The one that I have been focusing on is, patients who aren’t in a hospital and who aren’t being discharged from a hospital and who need oxygen at home. If they can’t get to their physician to get tested, because they’re not taking in-person appointments, how do they get that test done? There are many things to find solutions to.