SBA opens doors with sleep therapy

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

EL DORADO, Kan.--You could say the devil known as national competitive bidding made SBA Home Medical Equipment do it. The provider had long held off entering the booming sleep market, thinking it couldn’t compete with big city companies. But it recently took the plunge.

“We needed to diversify,” said Kim Nolan, supervisor of medical equipment. “Oxygen is our biggest business and it’s 75% Medicare. Our sleep business is only 50% Medicare.”

Expanding into the growing sleep market was fairly painless, says Nolan. The company already had three full-time respiratory therapists on staff and expanded the hours of a part-timer.

SBA has done some local advertising and has a built-in physician referral base through the hospital, but the convenience of shopping at home has been a big success factor, says Nolan.

One particular challenge has been keeping up with compliance requirements, especially for Medicare. Downloadable technology that tracks patient compliance, part of those requirements, has been a plus - and an eye-opener, Nolan said.

“Patients say they wear their CPAP every night and you find out they’re not,” she said. “But we are able to troubleshoot a lot of problems this way.”

As its CPAP business grows, SBA’s whole business has benefitted, said Nolan.

“I think CPAP has opened up a lot more doors for us as far as patient base,” she said. “People are more aware we’re out there.”