Sunrise CEO tells providers to 'face reality'

Sunday, September 24, 2006

ATLANTA - If the industry hopes for more than "flashes of success" when it comes to reimbursement and policy issues, providers must involve their patients in HME lobbying efforts," Sunrise Medical CEO Mike Hammes said last week at Medtrade.

"You have to get the end-user involved consistently--not once in awhile," Hammes said during a press conference. "We need something deeper and more persuasive as the healthcare system goes through a crisis over the next four to five years."

When it comes to lobbying for industry issues, screaming about reimbursement cuts, how they'll drive providers out of business, and other "self-serving" arguments fall on deaf ears, Hammes said. The industry must partner with end-users to build credibility--credibility that HMEs are part of the healthcare continuum and not equipment jockeys.

Manufacturers can help enlist the help of patients, but providers, who have more frequent interaction with patients, are in a much better position to do that, he said.

"We need to be credible and to fight the right fight," he said. "We need to fight for something that will benefit politicians, clinicians and end-users. Don't fight for something that is self serving."

Additionally, to succeed in stemming the tide of detrimental policy and reimbursement actions, the industry must present independent clinical studies that prove home care is beneficial and cost effective.

Providers can do a lot to reduce costs and improve how their business operate--but that's not enough to ensure long-term success, he said.

"We'd better face reality--we need to impact and change our external world," Hamme said. "If we don't, the condition of the homecare industry will continue to decline."