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In brief: Cost pressures, acquisitions, diversity

In brief: Cost pressures, acquisitions, diversity

WATERLOO, Iowa – The cost of delivering home medical equipment continues to rise, according to the results of a new survey from VGM & Associates. 

The survey of nearly 100 HME providers in eight regions of the U.S. looked at the increase in cost of goods, employee wages and freight, as well as cost of delivery per mile, PPE and average wages.  

“While I suspected the various costs and related factors in securing appropriate HME delivery services would increase – as compared to our previous two surveys – I underestimated the cumulative pressures on the business operations of these companies,” said Mark Higley, vice president of regulatory affairs for VGM Government. “I anticipated the higher vehicle expenses (due to the large fuel increases) but was rather stunned by the array of ancillary demands (e.g., supply chain, surcharges, freight, overtime, etc.) facing these most critical organizations serving the most cost-effective patient population.” 

The data is grouped by region and broken out by company size. In the Rocky Mountain region, for example, the cost of delivery vehicle per mile was $0.84 for companies with more than 50 employees, an increase of 31% since 2021; $1.17 for companies with 11-50 employees, an increase of 180%; and $1.40 for companies with one to 10 employees, an increase of more than 200%. 

This year’s survey also asked respondents to rate supply chain shortages. In the Rocky Mountain region, small companies rated the issue 100% critical. 

Kubat Healthcare acquires Hilltop Drugs Etc. 

NELIGH, Neb. – Kubat Healthcare has acquired Hilltop Drugs Etc., in Neligh, Neb., further expanding its commitment to local care. 

Founded in October 2008 by co-founder and current Pharmacist-In-Charge Jami Schmidt, Hilltop Drugs is a community pharmacy providing personalized pharmacy and health care services. In 2019, Schmidt and her business partner sold to Mark Vogt. 

"When I started Hilltop Drugs in 2008, I wanted to provide the community with exceptional pharmacy solutions," said Schmidt, who will remain as the Pharmacist-In-Charge. "I am thrilled that by joining with Kubat HealthCare, not only will our community continue to have pharmacy needs met, but we will now be able to offer additional health care services that have not been made available until now." 

By joining Kubat HealthCare, Neligh and surrounding communities will have access to respiratory care, specialized compounded medications, infusion and home medical equipment through other locations in Nebraska. Hilltop Drugs will continue to offer home delivery and mailed prescriptions, RediMedi compliance packaging, vaccinations and assistance with enrolling in Medicare Part D prescription insurance plans. 

"The team at Hilltop Drugs is exceptional," said Tony Schmid, vice president of pharmacy operations at Kubat HealthCare. "While the name will change in the coming months, we are ecstatic to have Jami Schmidt and the team continue to provide exceptional service to the community." 

Kubat has been on the acquisition trail, acquiring three pharmacies in the second half of 2021. 

BOC funds racial bias study 

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - The Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) has committed $30,000 to fund a study, “Racial Bias in Orthotics and Prosthetics,” the first of its kind in the O&P field. 

The study is a recipient of a 2021 American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) and Center for Orthotic and Prosthetic Learning and Outcomes/Evidence-Based Practice (COPL) Pilot Grant. 

"This research is an essential first step to reduce health disparities and improve racial equity in patient access and outcomes in O&P,” said Cody McDonald, PhD, MPH, CPO, as principal investigator. “As clinicians, educators and students, we must examine our own biases and work to minimize the impact on our patients. The first step toward more equitable care is understanding the current state of racial bias in the profession, and this is the focus of our study.”   

The study will assess implicit and explicit racial biases among clinicians, educators and students in the O&P field. Racial biases among health care providers, which are known to contribute to disparities and poor outcomes for black, indigenous and people of color, are well-documented in many areas of health care but have not yet been explored in O&P.  

Clinicians, educators and students who are not able to participate in the study but are interested in learning more about implicit bias should visit the Project Implicit Harvard University website to take the Implicit Association Test.  

"BOC is proud to be a key funder for the 2021 COPL Pilot Grant Program,” said Wyane Rosen, BOCP, BOCO, LPO, CDME, FAAOP and BOC board chair. “The 'Racial Bias in Orthotics and Prosthetics' study aligns with BOC's values and is important to our professional community.” 

Results of the study will be disseminated in early 2023.    

Reliable Medical stakes claim in California 

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Reliable Medical has acquired San Jose, Calif.-based Hometown Medical Supplies, its first foray in the state. “We are pleased to welcome Hometown to the Reliable family,” said Katie Stevens, CEO of Reliable. “As a company, we are committed to focusing on intentional growth for the right reasons by targeting partners who share the same people-centric focus that has led to Reliable’s success. Our partnership with Hometown is a prime example of us delivering on our mission to improve lives for our patients and employees alike.” Reliable Medical, a portfolio company of Seven Hills Capital, is a leading provider of complex rehab technology, clinical respiratory products and durable medical equipment and supplies across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, California, Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky. 

Essentially Women presents EW Ruth Addison Award 

WATERLOO, Iowa – Essentially Women, a division of VGM & Associates, named Mary Walsh Aframe as the 2022 Essentially Women Ruth Addison Award Winner at this year’s Focus Conference. Essentially Women presents the EW Ruth Addison Award each year to an individual who has made a significant impact within her company, her community and the women’s health industry. Walsh Aframe, the owner and founder of The Women’s Image Center in Worcester, Mass., has been instrumental in the introduction of H.R. 5430, which would provide Medicare coverage for wigs as durable medical equipment. “I thank my village for this recognition,” said Walsh Aframe. “Guided by the spirit of the Ruth Addison Award, I hope to drive our community to encourage Congress to pass the custom breast prosthesis bill. Together, let’s make this bill a reality.” The Focus Conference was held May 1-3 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla., the group’s first in-person event in two years. “It was so good to meet together with everyone again face-to-face,” said Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women. “Meeting in-person allows our members to really connect with each other and our vendor partners at a deeper level.” 

NCPA launches PBM resource 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association is launching a new resource to help pharmacists and patients report possible violations of pharmacy benefit manager regulations to state insurance regulators and push them to enforce the laws on the books. “There have been great strides forward in recent years with comprehensive state PBM reforms and court victories, but patients, small-business pharmacies and taxpayers aren’t seeing all of this progress when regulators aren’t enforcing the laws,” said Anne Cassity, NCPA vice president of federal and state government affairs. “With NCPA’s PBM Complaints tool, we want to make it easy for people to thoroughly report possible infractions, so these officials have no excuse for inaction.” To create the tool, NCPA state policy staff compiled information on PBM laws in each state and included links to all states’ department of insurance complaint forms. 

MAMES elects board members 

DES MOINES, Iowa – MAMES held its annual board of directors election at its recent conference and exhibition. The association welcomed the following members at the conference: 

Minnesota: Jesse Neumann, Corner Home Medical 
Associate director (represents MAMES associate members on the board): Jay Kopriva, VGM & Associates 

Board members re-elected to the board for another three-year term: 

  • Kansas: Sam Cress, Cherub Medical Supply 
  • Minnesota: Jacques Beasley, Geritom Medical 
  • Missouri: Karen Atkins, Mobility First & Scott Lopez, Alliance Rehab & Medical Equipment, LLC 
  • Wisconsin: Angie Mattheis, SSM Health At Home 

The board also voted on new board members to fill open seats that had been vacated: 

  • Iowa: Tanya Rohwer, Gundersen Palmer Home Medical Supply 
  • Minnesota: Gretchen Rogers, North Central Medical Supply & Equipment 
  • North Dakota: Pat Greenfield, CHI St. Alexius Health – Williston (voted in early April) 

There are two open seats that MAMES is looking to fill in Nebraska and South Dakota. Please let the MAMES office know if you would like more information on those open seats. 

Encore Healthcare names new VP 

LIVINGSTON, Tenn. – Encore Healthcare has named Ray Gregg as vice president of sales & business development. Gregg brings more than two decades of experience in respiratory care, including the HME, sleep lab and the medical device industries. He spent nine years at ResMed, where he served as clinical specialist, territory manager and area clinical manager for the Western half of the U.S. and helped to launch a variety of products, including their first ventilator. That was followed by three years at Breathe Technologies as senior director of sales & clinical, where he helped to develop and launch the Life2000 Ventilation System. 

Ascensia study shows reduction in blood glucose readings 

BASEL, Switzerland – People who use Ascensia Diabetes Care’s connected CONTOUR BGM systems (BGMS) and CONTOUR DIABETES App (CDA) for at least six months can see a reduced frequency of hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic blood glucose readings, according to a new study from the company. “We’re pleased to see results from the study showcasing that our CDA system is helping people with diabetes to manage their condition,” said Frank Held, head of BGM marketing and strategy. “While many diabetes apps support people with diabetes in managing their condition, they don’t all provide alerts or guidance for hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic events, like the CONTOUR DIABETES App does. Failure to properly address these events can result in serious health complications, so it is crucial that monitoring systems and connected apps facilitate the detection of high and low blood glucose levels.” The study assessed data from 7,047 CDA system users in Australia. After six months, the estimated frequency of BGRs in high and very high ranges in people using the CDA system fell by more than 6.5-times and 5.6-times, respectively, compared to baseline. This decrease was more prominent among users who reported the use of oral antidiabetic medications, at 7.37-times less than baseline. The decrease of BGRs in the low range was modest at 1.2-times in the entire assessed population, and at 1.38-times in CDA system users who were treated with insulin and are more prone to hypoglycemic events. These data suggest improved glycemic control when using the CDA system for at least six months and, more generally, a key benefit in using connected BGMS, including apps, to support the management of diabetes.  

Numotion Foundation makes donation 

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Numotion Foundation has announced emergency relief contributions of $50,000 to two organizations serving those affected by the ongoing aggression in Ukraine. The contribution is primarily intended to assist those living with mobility related disabilities currently facing displacement, economic uncertainty and a lack of access to appropriate mobility equipment and independent living aids. “It is our hope that these contributions will help provide comfort and work toward meeting the needs of Ukrainians living with disabilities as they seek shelter and recover from the unwarranted aggression in their country,” said Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. “We are proud to support these organizations and applaud their continued efforts during this incredibly difficult time.” The $50,000 contribution will be distributed to the National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine (NAPD), an organization representing over 120 Ukrainian non-governmental organizations assisting those living with disabilities, with further distribution to The Chernivtsi Regional Organization of People with Disabilities (CROPD), a member organization of NAPD identified as an NGO both run by and focused on serving those living with mobility-related disabilities. In all in 2022, the Numotion Foundation plans to contribute more than $500,000 to nonprofit organizations focused on research, adaptive fitness & wellness, adaptive recreation, education, housing, transportation, and other mobility-related needs.  

Exhibitor registration opens for ISS 

PITTSBURGH – Exhibitor registration for the 38th International Seating Symposium, which will take place in-person at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh on April 13-15, is now open. ISS is accepting exhibitor registrations on a first-come, first-served basis. The 2023 event will feature more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 11 hours of unopposed exhibit hall time. The 2022 ISS was held virtually Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. 

Reps. Crist, Suozzi intro tax deduction for home mods 

WASHINGTON – Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y., have introduced a bill that would provide tax incentives for home modifications so seniors and those with disabilities can more easily and safely continue living in their own homes. The Home Modification for Accessibility Act empowers Americans to make decisions about where and how they live by offsetting the costs associated with making home modifications through a penalty free early retirement withdrawal and lifetime tax deduction of up to $30,000. This will reduce injuries and subsequent medical costs associated with falls, as well as drive development and investment in the market and create new job opportunities for skilled laborers and contractors, the congressmen say. “We have a storm coming, with the number of disabled elders expected to double in the coming years,” said Suozzi. “Fewer family caregivers are available for these aging Americans and the market for long-term care insurance is not currently sufficient to address these demographic challenges. We must do all we can to ensure New Yorkers have the option to live and age safely in the comfort of their own home.” The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that roughly 90% of people ages 65-plus would prefer to age in their homes rather than move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Aging at home is also cheaper and more cost effective than having to live in a nursing home, where room costs can average anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 a month. 

RemSleep applications advances 

TAMPA, Fla. – RemSleep Holdings says it has responded to the Additional Information request related to its 510(k) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its patented DeltaWave nasal mask CPAP interface. “This submission is expected to be the final step and pivotal moment for our company,” said CEO Tom Wood. “It will dramatically strengthen the commercialization of our brand and make the DeltaWave a premier product that reinforces our commitment to providing accessible, comfortable and quality care for so many who seek treatment for sleep apnea.” RemSleep anticipates receiving a decision from the FDA in about 30 days. In March, the company announced that it had engaged a new third-party lab to redo testing for the DeltaWave as part of the 510(k) process. 

Great Elm’s DME division ‘performs well’ 

WALTHAM, Mass. – Great Elm Group’s DME division grew total revenue by 19.2% to $15.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, driven by strong resupply sales. The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to contributions from the previous acquisitions of AMPM in March 2021 and MedOne in August 2021. “Our investment in DME continues to perform well, despite challenging supply chain conditions,” said Peter Reed, CEO of Great Elm. The DME division reported a net loss of $6.6 million vs. $5.1 million, which includes intercompany charges related to the valuation of an embedded derivative that eliminates consolidation. It reported adjusted EBITDA of $2.5 million vs. $3.4 million. 

InfuSystem CEO: ‘Our first quarter results came in as planned’ 

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – InfuSystem Holdings reported net revenues of $26.8 million for the first quarter of 2022, an increase of 9% versus the same period in 2021. Integrated Therapy Services ("ITS") net revenue was $16.6 million, an increase of 5%; and DME services was $10.1 million, an increase of 18%. Adjusted EBITDA was $4.1 million, a decrease of 33%, primarily impacted by investments in the sales force to capture additional market share in pain management and negative pressure wound therapy and increased biomedical services training costs. “Our first quarter results came in as planned,” said Rich DiIorio, CEO. “The top line was driven by our core business, oncology, with ITS growth of 5% to $16.6 million and DME growth of 18% to $10.1 million. Additionally, our operating cash flow for the first quarter increased by 54% to $4.1 million compared to the same prior year period, demonstrating the strong cash flow nature of our business.” InfuSystem recently announced it had secured a contract with a global health care technology and diagnostic company that, after an initial ramp-up period, is expected to generate about $10 million to $12 million in annual revenue.  

Insulet’s earnings reflect ‘strong adoption’ 

ACTON, Mass. – Insulet reported revenues of $295.4 million for the first quarter 2022, an increase of 17.1% over the prior year time period. Total Omnipod revenue was $269.5 million, with U.S. revenue comprising $174.1 million. “We are off to a great start in 2022 with first quarter financial results that reflect strong global Omnipod adoption, consumer satisfaction and operational excellence, positioning the company for another successful year,” said Shacey Petrovic, president and CEO. “The commercial launch of Omnipod 5 is progressing very well, and we are receiving excellent customer feedback. We also recently shared compelling Type 2 feasibility data that demonstrates how powerful Omnipod 5 can be for this dramatically underserved population. Momentum across our business continues to grow and our mission to simplify and improve the lives of people with diabetes remains at the center of everything we do.” Insulet reported operating income of $37.9 million, or 12.8% of revenue. Adjusted EBITDA was $63 million, or 21.3% of revenue. Petrovic announced on the call that she will be stepping down, effective June 1, for personal reasons. She will be succeeded by Jim Hollingshead, the former president of ResMed’s Sleep and Respiratory Care business. Hollingshead has served as an independent member of Insulet’s board of directors since 2019. 

Philips recognized for diversity 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Royal Philips has again been included on the list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity by Forbes. The inclusion of Philips is a testament to the company’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture where employees feel valued, safe and supported to be their best, it said in a press release. “We aim to be the best place to work for all our employees, embracing diversity and inclusion and health and well-being,” said Lauren Gohde, Philips North America Inclusion & Diversity Lead. “This recognition is the result of collaboration and commitment at all levels from across the entire organization. Our CEO and leadership team walk the talk, creating tangible action plans to provide support and increase representation for our under-represented employees. Our commitment to ensuring a culture of belonging for all has never been stronger.” Philips ranked 195 on the list and is in the top five in the “Health Care Equipment and Services” category. To create the list, 60,000 U.S. employees were surveyed in companies with a minimum of 1,000 employees to identify the Best Employers for Diversity. Surveyed companies were evaluated through anonymous feedback from employees on criteria including age, gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation equality, as well as general diversity in their workplace. Respondents were also asked to nominate organizations other than their own in their respective industries. Previously, in January, Philips earned a perfect score of 100 and the designation as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a benchmarking survey and report that measures corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality.  

Scootaround marks National Mobility Awareness Month 

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Scootaround will donate 5% of every device sold on its website to the Disabled But Not Really Foundation as part of National Mobility Awareness Month in May. The foundation promotes inclusive training and adaptive athletes, and works to improve the lives of people living with disabilities. Scootaround also recently partnered with PURE to introduce PURE sanitization vehicles to disinfect mobility rentals with enhanced hygiene procedures, eliminating passenger worry about everything from COVID to the flu to bacteria. WHILL, which merged with Scootaround in 2019, has successfully implemented autonomous power chairs at Haneda International Airport (HNA) in Tokyo, Japan, and has had trials domestically at the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, New York/JFK, and Grand Rapids, Mich., airports. 

Convaid’s new ERP system delays lead times 

TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid will not be able to resume normal shipping lead times until June. “The implementation of the new enterprise resource planning system at (our) manufacturing site was a success,” the company says. “However, getting back to our normal production schedule is taking longer than expected.” Convaid says it is working diligently to resume its normal production schedule to improve shipping lead times. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced due to our ERP implementation and want to thank you for your valued support and patience,” it says.


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