Senior’s success

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TEXARKANA, Texas--Senior Respiratory Solutions added nearly 11,000 new neb-med patients in November, acquiring them from providers like Praxair and HME Services.

“With little or no margin in drug reimbursement, most small to mid-sized independent pharmacy operations are finding it very difficult to remain profitable, competitive and compliant,” said Dave McDonald, president.

Since 2006, when Medicare began paying for the drugs using an average sales price (ASP) plus a $33 dispensing fee, providers have ridden a quarterly rollercoaster of reimbursement changes. As a result, some providers are seeking alternatives.

Enter Senior Respiratory, which specializes in neb-meds and positions itself as a team partner to independent HMEs.

“There are a lot of providers that are concerned about competition if their patients (go to a national),” said McDonald. “We won’t compete with them on oxygen or DME.”

The six-year-old Senior Respiratory operates out of one central location, maximizing efficiency and minimizing cost. That allows the provider to absorb blows that smaller companies cannot, says McDonald.

Senior Respiratory’s patient management software tracks patients closely, allowing the provider to quickly follow up with the referring provider if a patient develops breathing or other problems.

The company has resisted switching to an automated calling system to save money.

“We feel (the personal contact) builds relationships,” said Shawn Clemons, vice president. “They want one person calling them.”

Senior Respiratory also markets directly to physicians. The provider carries every neb-med on the formulary, which doctors like because they don’t have to call around to get their patients cared for, says Clemons.

Still, the neb-med market is a tough space to conquer. Senior Respiratory-with 20,000 patients-operates on a slim margin.

“At the end of the day, what’s left is based on the dispensing fee,” said Clemons. “That’s our only margin.”