Something for nothing? Think again

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

These are scary and difficult times for all providers, but more difficult and more scary for some than for others.
Over the past few years, spurred on by dwindling Medicare reimbursement, manufacturers have continued to develop technology designed to reduce the operational costs that providers grapple with daily. Those efforts continue. Whether we're talking about portable concentrators, telemonitoring devices and other technology designed to reduce deliveries, e-CMNs or Web-based applications such as inventory tracking, providers have had ample opportunity to improve their efficiency.
Some have taken advantage of these opportunities, and they've done so with a spirit of enthusiasm that's been exciting to watch. One provider I talked to over the past few months sounded like a kid with a new toy as he described how a GPS system had improved his routing of deliveries. Another provider called a new company e-mail system "awesome" for how much it has improved communication between employees.
Funny thing: The providers who embrace this new technology--or who have taken the time to analyze every aspect of their company for possible savings--are often the same providers who belong to AAHomecare, their state associations and who attend events designed to give them a better feel for where the HME market is headed.
Unfortunately, too few providers fall into this camp. I don't know how many times someone has called HME News seeking information, and when we say that the best place to get that information is from either AAHomecare or from their state association, they say they don't belong to either. We're happy to help these providers, but to me, it seems like they are trying to get something for nothing.
Nobody is happy with the direction Medicare has taken this year. Whether reducing the dispensing fee for respiratory meds, turning the rehab industry on its head with drastic changes or supporting legislation that would eliminate the capped rental option for DME, CMS and federal lawmakers have created a hellacious business environment.
It's an environment that will challenge even the best-run HME businesses. But what about those that haven't invested in technology or worked to streamline their business or helped out with industry lobbying efforts?
Who, I wonder, are they going to call now?