'This is your time:' Summit recharges providers

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PITTSBURGH – Several speakers at the HME News Business Summit had the same take-home message for providers: “This is your time.”

Everette James, who kicked off the event, encouraged providers to view themselves and present themselves as “disrupters”—a driving force in making the current healthcare system more affordable.

“This should be your time, if you can figure out a little thing called reimbursement,” said James, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh, and director of its Health Policy Institute. “There’s a recognition that people want to be at home and you can deliver care there less expensively—those are the things that I’d be driving home.”

The Summit, held Sept. 18-20 in Pittsburgh, featured sessions on everything from healthcare reform to private equity investments to retail opportunities. Attendees also participated in numerous brainstorming sessions and networking events.

Time for cash

Mindy Thompson-Banko told providers “the time is coming” for a $500-billion-a-year healthcare retail market. Even though traditional retailers are likely to enter the market, smart providers have the upper hand.

“Someone in traditional retail is going to become a player—Bed Bath & Beyond is slowly sticking into this market,” said Thompson-Banko, founder and president of Simply Retail. “But they’re so removed; they don’t have the expertise.”

Time to ‘upcare’

With dwindling Medicare reimbursement, Michael Sperduti encouraged providers to also take advantage of retail opportunities by taking advantage of, among other things, the advance beneficiary notice (ABN). But instead of thinking of it as upselling, he suggests “upcaring.”

“Do you think your sales reps are going to get excited about upselling?” said Speruditi, president and CEO of Emerge Sales. “No, because of the stereotypes around being a salesman. Don’t use the word selling; use the word caring.”

Time to see what others see

A panel of private equity investors shared why they continue to have a stake in the HME industry, despite the uncertainty of healthcare reform and the difficulties created by competitive bidding.

“As much as the industry is beaten up, payers want you to exist, because you cost less, and patients want you to exist, because you’re preferred,” said David Sturdee, a managing director at The Clairvest Group.

“For us, it’s all about cost—we invest in businesses that address healthcare costs,” said Jack Nestor, a principal at The Riverside Company. “That’s what’s attractive to us—finding value to add to the entire system.”

Time for partnerships

In this new era of readmission reduction, accountable care organizations (ACOs) and bundled payments, a panel of providers shared how they’re using telehealth products and services, including personal emergency response systems (PERS), to enter strategic partnerships with home health agencies, nursing homes and hospitals.

“Technology is the way,” said Tom Sedlak, senior vice president of business development of the Vantage Healthcare Network.