Sleep lab spins off HME

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Despite the dizzying number of changes that lie ahead for the HME industry, a growing sleep lab here still has faith in the future of home medical equipment.
Sleep Resources, which operates labs in Sheboygan and West Bend, Wis., spun off HomeCare Resources late last year after customers complained there weren't suppliers in the area to provide sleep-related therapies like CPAPs, said Robert Pamenter, owner.
"There's one other local provider in the area, but its serves only a certain insurance network," he said.
HomeCare Resources' 2,200-square-foot showroom serves Sheboygan County (population 104,000) and features everything from aids to daily living to hospital beds to wheelchairs. It's staffed by four employees: an administrator and an assistant, a sales and delivery specialist, and a CPAP specialist.
Not surprisingly, CPAPs dominate HomeCare Resources' business mix at about 50%. Private insurance companies comprise its largest payer source, Pamenter said.
But Pamenter expects other HME to grow, and its payer mix to include more Medicare.
Competitive bidding, the proposed 36-month cap on oxygen and other HME changes du jour don't scare Pamenter, because with Sleep Resources and HomeCare Resources, he has diverse product and service offerings, he said.
Roberta Domos, a Redmond, Wash.-based consultant who works with HME start-ups, advises aspiring providers to carry diverse product lines.
"It's OK to find a niche, but you don't want all your eggs in one basket," said Domos, owner of Domos HME Consulting Group. "The more hard DME you can do, the safer you are."
At least initially, HomeCare Resources also has Sleep Resources' growth to lean on. The sleep lab in West Bend will expand from two beds to four beds in 2006.