Subscribe to E–SP RSS Feed

E–SP

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It’s been a fun—and busy—three months, but with the return of our editor, Liz Beaulieu, I must hand off my crown.

I won’t lie, I like being in charge. Except when I wish someone else was.

In fact, it’s been a busy three months for the entire industry, with what must, at times, feel like Sisyphean legislation to push, including that long-awaited Senate bill. At press time in mid-December, there’s still a chance to get it passed. As I said to our new(ish) associate editor, Tracy Orzel, it’s one of the biggest stories of the year but with the shortest shelf life, at least from an editorial perspective. Let’s hope by the time you read this in the New Year that the bill passed.

If it hasn’t, well, the bidding window for the Round 2 recompete is scheduled to open in January. You know the drill.

The other big story in 2014—right from day one—was audits. You may remember the memo, from the Chief ALJ no less, raising concerns about the appeals backlog that lit the proverbial fire. Since then, to no one’s surprise, that backlog has ballooned and is closing in on 1 million. That’s outrageous! What ever happened to due process? 

With the majority of appeals being overturned at this level, it’s clear that the system is broken. Claims should not be denied as medically unnecessary when, for instance, the doctor didn’t wear blue socks on that particular Tuesday, as one exasperated provider mentioned during a phone call in November. 

But lest you think I’m all doom and gloom, we hear some wonderful stories from a great number of providers out there. They participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, raised awareness and funds for diabetes, breast cancer and a host of other causes, and helped out with getting our veterans to Washington D.C. 

We are already looking ahead to 2015, starting immediately with the February issue, planning for two Medtrade shows, the HME Business Summit, and numerous webcasts for the upcoming year. Starting with this issue we have four new Smart Talk columns (LinkedIn, Marketing, Aging in Place and Mergers and Acquisitions) that I hope everyone can learn from. I mean really, just what is LinkedIn for?

In the short term, my boss is returning in mere days. Time to clear out her office and welcome her back!

by: Theresa Flaherty - Thursday, November 13, 2014

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I, for one, am glad the elections are over. 

The onslaught of political mailers (we receive everything in triplicate at my house), the negative TV and radio ads, the knocks on the door. Being a voter is exhausting.

Unfortunately, as election results show, our country remains divided along partisan lines and I fear we face yet another session of partisan squabbling.

I think provider Michael Mayfield said it best when, in his response to our November NewsPoll, he summed it thus: “I have never disliked our government more than I have in the past four years.”

It comes as no surprise to me that HME providers are as divided along party lines as the rest of the country. What I always find interesting about the HME industry when it comes to politics is that, to my eye, it would seem providers face an inherent conflict.

On the one hand, as business owners, they often vote Republican; on the other hand, as professionals in the healthcare industry, they are as equally likely to vote Democrat.

Whichever way we cast our votes, the current lame duck session promises to be a busy one for the industry, which needs to make one last Herculean effort to push through legislation to improve the audit process and reform the flawed Medicare competitive bidding program.

You’re probably as sick of hearing about these bills as I am sick of writing about them (uh, no offense), but it’s the most important thing you can do for your business today.

For now, I look forward to the descent of December’s foggy freeze which closes in on Maine like a very dark blanket. Our publisher, Rick Rector, says the prospect of winter depresses him but I love it—until about May, when I weary of what feels like an uphill battle against snow. 

It’s kind of like...lobbying.

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At today's far-too-early AAHomecare Washington Update, the association announced a new app. But CEO Tom Ryan (you all know Tom, right?) mentioned he's on twitter. I'm sorry, we're in Georgia. I meant to use the official state phrase: ya'll.

"You all follow me on twitter, right?" he asked the crowd. Needless to say, that resulted in those of us who tweet regularly to tweet and retweet this statement or that they (we) follow @Tom RyanHME. These are the moments that twitter is fun and interactive. I'll be curious to learn if Tom picked up some new followers today.

This is a group that's really pushing the need to band together to effect change. As Jay Witter said during his presentation, some of the progress being made (however incremental it may seem), is because of efforts, both collaborative and individual, toward boosting industry bills.

I confess, I didn't get to spend time on the show floor today because I was holed up in the myserious Show Daily office. I understand there's about 100 new exhibitors and 1,000 new attendees. Even Madame Defarge would agree that's impressive in the best of times, which these certainly aren't.

And I must end the day with a shout out to the newly annointed homecare champions, Joel Mills of North Carolina-based Advanced Home Care and Invacare's Cara Bachenheimer. Both are truly deserving of the award. Joel couldn't be here tonight, but Cara was, for better or worse. I think it was Tom Ryan who led the crowd in a chant of "Cara! Cara! Cara!"

And to my own personal heroes of the day: the anonymous good Samaritan who found my missing show daily office key on the shuttle (easier to find the key than the actual location) and turned it in to GWCC security; the security officer who found the office to return it to me; and to Lane Vento, who unlocked the door at 7:30 this morning for me with a cheery "No problem."

My feet are up, the music is playing and the wine is cold. Peace out and good night.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Monday, October 20, 2014

“Do you know where the show daily office is?”

It didn’t take long to learn that this year’s best kept show secret is the location of the show daily office.

No matter who we asked, no one could tell us. I mean, I even had the room number but it was, frankly, weird.

Door monitor: “That number isn’t right. I need a meeting room number.”

Me: “But it’s not a meeting room. And this is the room number.”

And on and on and all around.

Rick Rector (on my behalf): “Do you know where the show daily office is?”

Answer: “No, but we see Theresa tweeted that she can’t find it.”

After finally locating the room and settling in, the A/V guy showed up with the printer.

A/V guy: “This was a hard room to find. Nobody knew where it was."

After hooking us up to the internet, the first thing I checked was my email.

Email from show daily reporter John Andrews: “Nobody knows where the show daily office is. I’m at registration—can you give me directions or come meet me?”

And you thought GWCC hall C was tough to find. I mean, it took me 20 minutes to walk from my hotel to registration (primarily uphill, I might add, but this is Atlanta, so at least there isn't "two feet of snow" as our New England grandparents were so fond of saying). It took another 25 minutes to find the show daily office (not literally).

Overworked feet up, we are geared up and ready for the first full day of the show on Tuesday. We’ve already covered a couple of excellent sessions Monday afternoon.

In my wanderings, I also had the pleasure of meeting provider Steve Ackerman, the newest treasurer for AAHomecare, as well as other providers and met up with Lisa Wells, who will be  helping us out with HME News TV this year.

All in all, a productive day. We look forward to seeing you here this week (probably not in the show daily office).

Now, if we could just figure out who the show photographer is…

 

Tags:
by: Theresa Flaherty - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New England is known, among other things, for its gorgeous fall foliage. For the past few years, hot dry summers (too hot for us natives) have led to muddied browns and rusty reds.

But this year, after a cooler, more seasonal Maine summer, we have been rewarded with brilliant reds, yellows and oranges. As with all things worthwhile, it was worth the wait.

In the run up to the mid-term elections, HME providers and its ubiquitous stakeholders have pounded the pavement, meeting with lawmakers and hopefuls. Over and over, they talk up the failures of competitive bidding and the breakdown of the audit system, hoping to make an impression—and more importantly, gain cosponsors on both H.R. 4920, the bid fix bill, and H.R. 5083, the audit improvement act.

While it seems like the same 5% of the industry does all the work, I think the other 95% are heeding the message. I spoke with Clark McInroy in early October. He’s in Wyoming, which recently joined Big Sky AMES after years of being without an association. McInroy told me he’d attended an association meeting and, after listening to VGM’s John Gallagher speak about the importance of talking with your lawmakers, came away fired up to do just that. He’s already begun, he told me.

Sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet. (This is especially true on the Maine coast if you fancy an ocean dip). It’s really the best way to learn. I am briefly taking the reins here at HME News while our editor, Liz Beaulieu, is on maternity leave (it’s a girl!). The sheer volume of tasks that need to be remembered and attended to is eye opening but so far, I am enjoying the challenge. I am already becoming an expert on the HME Databank.

I suspect Liz is rapidly learning how to be an expert mom, because there’s really no way to ease into that role.

This month, we also welcome a new editor, Tracy Orzel, who we will throw out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire otherwise known as Medtrade. She flies to Atlanta on her official third day at HME News.

 

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Have you ever been to a concert where the band was great but the audience felt a little off? For me, that was when the cult played the Cumberland County Civic Center circa 1990. The effect of that was to bring the overall enjoyment down.

As the HME Business Summit draws to its inevitable close, early reports suggest it was one of the best ever. Great program, gorgeous location, enthusiastic attendees. That’s right, enthusiastic attendees really make the event such a must-attend, at least for me. They provide the energy. It’s good to meet them, good to get their feedback, nice to watch them network and share war stories.

The big watchwords this year: data and post-acute care. Guess what, your data, should you choose to collect it, can outline for referral sources just what sort of post-acute care you can provide to their patients. That, in turn, can translate to more business and happier healthier patients. As speaker Mike Sperduti told us, his mom had a very satisfactory experience with her HME provider and had a better outcome as a result.

I do think the data message is sinking in for providers. It’s the best sales tool you have and I think we’ll be seeing more of them grab at fresh opportunities as the market continues to reshape itself.

Check next Monday’s newswire for a more complete story. And safe travels. For those of you flying out, please practice safe reclining.

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Have you ever been to a concert where the band was great but the audience felt a little off? For me, that was when the cult played the Cumberland County Civic Center circa 1990. The effect of that was to bring the overall enjoyment down.

As the HME Business Summit draws to its inevitable close, early reports suggest it was one of the best ever. Great program, gorgeous location, enthusiastic attendees. That’s right, enthusiastic attendees really make the event such a must-attend, at least for me. They provide the energy. It’s good to meet them, good to get their feedback, nice to watch them network and share war stories.

The big watchwords this year: data and post-acute care. Guess what, your data, should you choose to collect it, can outline for referral sources just what sort of post-acute care you can provide to their patients. That, in turn, can translate to more business and happier healthier patients. As speaker Mike Sperduti told us, his mom had a very satisfactory experience with her HME provider and had a better outcome as a result.

I do think the data message is sinking in for providers. It’s the best sales tool you have and I think we’ll be seeing more of them grab at fresh opportunities as the market continues to reshape itself.

Check next Monday’s newswire for a more complete story. And safe travels. For those of you flying out, please practice safe reclining.

by: Theresa Flaherty - Monday, September 8, 2014

I took copious notes during today’s HME News Business Summit. Longhand. And, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to try and decipher my chicken scratches you have an idea how painful it is for me to do a write-up after the fact.

But, after tonight’s fabulous Mississippi river cruise, I decided to rethink tonight’s blog. Instead of rehashing a bunch of relevant points and clever soundbites, I want to share why I come to industry events.

On the boat tonight, I met David Hosemann from Mississippi. David, for those of you who haven’t met him, is a provider who’s been at it since 1981. I talk to him a handful of times a year, sometimes just to chat, more often to get his two cents on a particular issue. He’s been around long enough to have an opinion on, well, pretty much anything.

The first thing David did was apologize for not returning my recent call, although he’s sure he still has the message slip on his desk (I told him to toss it, I’d catch him next time).

He just doesn’t’ always have time, until maybe Saturday or Sunday evening to catch up on stuff like phone calls, probably like most providers.And unless you're calling to cancel competitive bidding, I ain't answering the phone at that point.

“Don’t give up on me, Theresa. I get your messages,” he told me.

I love hearing from providers what they like or even don’t like about HME News. I like putting a face to the name. That’s why I travel. It’s not the education, it’s not to see the latest products, it’s to chat face to face with our readers.

This was David’s first HME Business summit (he hopes to take away some ideas for timesavers from this year’s event) and I daresay he’ll be at next year’s Summit in Nashville (he can drive to that one).

From year to year, we never know what to expect, but in the face of the trying changes that face the HME industry, it’s good to know people still care and are still making the effort to learn and thrive.

by: Theresa Flaherty - Sunday, September 7, 2014

We are here in Minneapolis and looking forward to the official start of the HME Business Summit tomorrow.

I already knew it was a good program, but judging by the attendees who registered tonight, it looks like a good group also. I saw some familiar faces and was able to put a face to folks who previously were just voices on the phone (good to meet you, Pat Clifford and of course, Chris Rice). Folks are in good spirits and on the cab ride from the airport (thanks for picking that one up, John Sphon) we had a little game of name all the cities the Summit has been held in.

Rest assured, Liz, we do not have a baby pool going. Yet.

Honestly, my only quibble with the Summit so far? We served Chardonnay instead of Sauvignon Blanc at the welcome reception. Surely, I must know someone on the inside that I could have influenced if only I’d known, or (inside joke alert) at least thrown a Nerf ball at to get their attention.

For those of you who have heard of the notoriously lengthy journeys we sometimes take from Maine to get, well, just about anywhere, I am happy to report that, aside from a seizure at the gate (not me), the trip went swimmingly. I flew through Philadelphia to get here and honestly, after seeing some other folks at gate D6 who were also headed to the twin cities I wondered, “Why didn’t we just hold this thing in Philly?” But Minneapolis is lovely (and so clean!, say many of us used to the down and dirty East Coast). In fact, I think Minnesota might be a sister state of sorts to Maine, with its lakes and forests and hardy people (although, you do have those skywalks—we Mainers just stumble across our icy sidewalks).

It’s an early start tomorrow but the commute is (sort of) short.  Check back for updates.

by: Theresa Flaherty - Thursday, August 28, 2014

I know it seems like I was just on vacation and you'd be right. But once again, I am trying to clear (most of it anyway) my desk and my to-do list so I can take a very long Labor Day weekend. Destination: Cape Cod (again).

Although deadlines loom large, (finishing up my stories, edits to my co-editors' stories, fingers and toes and eyes crossed that I'll get in the Smart Talk columns, and a bunch of stuff from nearly a dozen different folks doing Medtrade booth profiles), I don't care.

The everlasting summer I don't think is going to last (bonus points to whoever susses out where that lyric twist came from). My calendar once I get back is booked and I'll bet yours is too.

Next weekend, I fly to Minneapolis for the annual HME News Summit. All I have to do is attend. I'd like to give kudos here to the programming (Liz) and the planners (Nicole, Heather, Julie). Unless you've organized an event, you have no idea of what goes on behind the scenes: The handholding, the crying, the gnashing of teeth.

And that's just Liz.

Then in the weeks leading up to Medtrade in October, we'll be prepping our Show Dailies and planning our Halloween costumes.

All the while, we'll be covering the news. I've been given a sneak peak at a few potential items.

So you see, while my first day back in the office next week promises to be hella awful, I gotta got get out of this place for a few days.

Let the leaves fall where they may.

Theresa Flaherty

Pages