Live blogging from HME Business Summit: Don't settle for second class


Steve Serra of Henry Ford Health Products is talking about how providers can expand the role of HME in the healthcare continuum.

Serra says the traditional role of HME has been about providing equipment and supplies, it's been about serving primarily acute patients, and, unfortunately, it's been about not getting reimbursed for professional services.

Henry Ford had some research done and found that customers dislike HME stores. They think home medical equipment is embarrassing. They don't view the equipment as a benefit. The research also found there's a lack of media coverage of HME. Case in point: A Google search of Christopher Reeves yields more than 800,000 results, but there's no mention of Reeves' HME provider. Serra  says the HME provider is invisible.

Serra's talking about the prevalence of chronic conditions. He says 45% of the population lives with  a chronic condition and 78% of healthcare spending is devoted to people with chronic conditions.

Yet, physicians say their training didn't prepare them to coordinate in-home and community services for people with chronic conditions.

Serra says healthcare reform creates opportunities–the creation of accountable care organizations and medical homes, etc. A new model needs to be considered that makes the home part of the equation with physicians and hospitals. There also needs to be a new paradigm: "Empowering people to manage their own health, thus avoiding the need to manage sickness" in a hospital or other facility.

Henry Ford has started a self-health program that includes a personal health coach; a self-health assessment; individual algorithm with plan and goals and data collection; products for every day living; rewards for reaching goals; support groups and education; and expert help seven days a week. It's applying the program for a furniture retailer.

Henry Ford is also launching a telemedicine project in the next six months.

Serra says of self-health, telemedicine and other new ways of providing health care: "There are a lot of people going after this space."