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Heartland Conference delivers business expertise, ‘good time’

Heartland Conference delivers business expertise, ‘good time’

Heartland Conference delivers business expertise, ‘good time’

WATERLOO, Iowa – The need for HME providers to turn off the fee-for-service mindset was a key theme among speakers at this year’s VGM Heartland Conference. 

“It’s no longer about fee-for-service; it’s about getting paid for improving costs and outcomes,” said Zach Gantt, CEO of Encore Healthcare during one of several sessions dedicated to value-based care. “How do we manage the entire patient? If we don’t coordinate and manage care for these patients, nobody else is.” 

This year’s conference, held June 13-15, featured 80 exhibitors and more than 70 educational sessions across ten tracks. 

Just say no to low pay 

Moving away from FFS is something providers have long struggled with, but it’s more important than ever to know when to walk away – even from Medicare, says Ronda Buhrmester, senior director of payer relations and reimbursement for VGM & Associates.  

“As long as you continue to accept assignment, CMS thinks those rates are acceptable,” she told attendees. “Then, they lower the rates, and we keep accepting (those lower rates).” 

Reasonable reimbursement can help to keep the industry healthy, with enough providers in business to ensure access to products and services, even with the backdrop of continued consolidation, speakers said. 

“When you talk about payer contracts, we struggle as an industry to make sure the rates are sustainable for all providers, not just a few,” Craig Douglas, vice president of payer and member relations for VGM & Associates, told attendees. 

But say yes to the rest 

One thing attendees will take back to their businesses is a deeper understanding of the importance of engagement - engagement with payers, physicians, employees and especially patients. 

“An engaged patient is a healthy patient,” Miriam Lieber, president of Lieber Consulting LLC, told attendees. “A disengaged patient is three times more likely to have unmet medical needs. How do we all work together to get the patients (engaged)?” 

It’s about time 

In addition to education and networking, the Heartland Conference is known for its social events, which included a Hog Roast and fireworks, community dinners and a special event for first-time attendees. One first-time attendee, Mary Ruth Watt, a VGM Insurance customer for 28 years, said it was “about time.” 

“I know they’ve evolved (to offer more than insurance) and it’s a good direction for me and my small business,” said Watt, the owner of Homefront Air & Medical Supplies in Fayetteville, Ark. “It was also a good time for meeting with vendors. We’ve all been so isolated from meeting with people. I’ve had a good time.” 


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