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The $64 million question: What is the value of HME?

The $64 million question: What is the value of HME?

WATERLOO, Iowa – Alan Morris is back at VGM, but now he has eight years of valuable experience at a health system under his belt.  

“I learned a lot about how organizations like these operate and how they depend on and interact with providers of home-based care services,” said Morris, who was named director of research and government strategies for VGM Government Relations in October. “I also learned what makes them tick from a financial and operations perspective.” 

Here’s what Morris had to say about how he’s now better positioned to help HME providers understand their value in the health care ecosystem. 

HME News: What was it like, looking at DME from the health system perspective? 

Alan Morris: I learned a couple of things. The first is just how highly dependent they are on DMEs to be part of the solution when it comes to getting patients out of the hospital quickly. You’ve read or heard plenty about the nursing shortage – it’s creating challenges for hospitals around the country. With that in mind, it’s important to be able to discharge in a timely manner. While DME is not the only piece of that equation, it’s an important one. Whether they can help to discharge a patient a day earlier or an hour earlier, it all matters from the hospital’s perspective. 

HME: What else stuck out to you? 

Morris: We’ve been talking for years about ACOs and other, sort of, risk-reward contract relationships between health care entities and insurance companies and what I will say is, even for those providers who are in that circle, it’s still very much an evolving process of learning how to take care of the patient in a very clinically and cost-effective manner. Everyone is still trying to figure this out long term. Anybody who can demonstrate their value in helping to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital – essentially, less expensive – that increasingly has value. 

HME: Where do you see the biggest area of improvement for HME provider-health system relationships? 

Morris: The vast majority of DMEs haven’t done a great job of articulating their value in a way that matters to a health system or ACO. They need to demonstrate their value with data on how they do a better job keeping patients in their homes – data that shows they’re lowering readmissions and increasing compliance and managing chronic conditions. We need to do a better job inserting ourselves in the broader discussions around continuum of care. 


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