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In brief: Delivery costs, CPAP compliance, CareCentrix model 

In brief: Delivery costs, CPAP compliance, CareCentrix model 

WATERLOO, Iowa – The cost of delivering home medical equipment has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a new survey from VGM.  

The survey of nearly 100 medical equipment providers in eight regions of the U.S. looked at vehicle cost per trip; PPE expense; labor expense per hour; and time of travel, equipment set-up and instruction, and equipment pickup. 

In the Great Lakes region, for example, the average delivery cost has hit $160.26, an increase of 19%. In the Southeast, the average delivery cost has hit $122.45, an increase of 35%. 

While labor costs in most cases increased only marginally, other costs, such as vehicle cost per trip, increased by a greater margin. 

The cost of PPE wasn’t a factor the last time VGM did the study in 2018, but it has added as much as $10.71 per trip in 2020 in the Mideast region, for example. 

VGM will use the data to bolster efforts to preserve access to HME. 

Study: Pandemic creates new sleep challenges 

AMSTERDAM – Seventy-two percent of surveyed sleep apnea patients who discontinued CPAP therapy blamed COVID-19, according to a new study from Royal Philips. 

While CPAP therapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea, the study found a drop in the portion of patients using their CPAP - from 36% in 2020 to 18% in 2021; and an increase in the proportion who have never used the CPAP they were prescribed - from 10% in 2020 to 16% in 2021. 

“With 72% of those who discontinued CPAP therapy citing COVID-10 related reasons, ranging from financial challenges (55%) to limited access of supplies (44%), it would appear that the pandemic has been an inhibiting factor in CPAP therapy compliance,” the company states. “Perhaps most concerning, however, was the 57% of those living with sleep apnea had never been prescribed at all.” 

To conduct the study, “Seeking Solutions: How COVID-19 Changed Sleep Around the World,” Philips surveyed 13,000 adults in 13 countries. 

The study also found that more people are turning to online sources and telehealth for help with sleep challenges. However, while more than half of respondents (58%) said they were willing to seek help for sleep-related concerns in the future from a sleep specialist via telehealth, many have not yet done so. The majority of respondents (70%) said it would be difficult to find a sleep specialist through an online or telephone-based program. 

“This year’s survey results confirm what we’ve known to be true for a while: with the right solutions, care doesn’t have to be defined by a place, but instead by the needs of the individual and his or her condition,” said Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, MD, Chief Medical Liaison, Sleep & Respiratory Care at Philips. “The tools required to deliver telehealth efficiently and reliably already exist, and the interest from consumers is apparent, particularly in the face of COVID-19.” 

Study supports CareCentrix model 

WASHINGTON and HARTFORD, Conn. – Avalere, an independent health care research and consulting firm, has found a major reduction in the total cost of care for patients managed by CareCentrix through reduced emergency room visits, hospital utilization and hospital readmissions. 

Avalere found that the total cost for Medicare Advantage members was 44% lower in the CareCentrix-managed population during the initial 90 days following discharge and 27% lower twelve months after discharge. 

“We know that our programs provide intelligent care traffic control, substantially reducing health care costs and improving outcomes,” said John Driscoll, CEO of CareCentrix. “The Avalere analysis demonstrates that our approach is having a much greater positive impact for patients than we imagined. CareCentrix saves money not by limiting access, but through empowering patients and caregivers, addressing clinical and non-clinical needs, and making certain patients get the help they need through coordinated, tech-enabled post-acute care.” 

For the report, Avalere analyzed a population of more than 24,000 individuals using de-identified claims data, retaining full editorial control. 

Specifically, Avalere found the CareCentrix-managed population had: 

an up to 22% reduction in readmission rates during the initial 30-, 60- and 90-day periods following discharge; 

a 21% reduction in emergency department visits compared to the baseline pre-discharge ED visits, greater than the 10% reduction in the non-CareCentrix-managed population; and 

a 71% reduction in skilled-nursing facility expenditures following discharge compared with a 47% cost reduction in the non-CareCentrix-managed population. 

CareCentrix credits a model that is based on three pillars: addressing social needs, making care personal and powering it with technology. 

Option Care Health reports $3B in revenues for 2020 

BANNOCKBURN, Ill. – Option Care Health reported net revenues of $804.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, an increase of 11.6% compared to the same quarter in 2019. Net revenues for the full year were about $3 billion, an increase of 31.3% compared to the full year 2019. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $67.7 million, and $221.7 million for the full year, up 27.7% and 69.5%, respectively. “I am incredibly proud of the effort and execution by the Option Care Health team in the face of an exceptionally challenging year,” said CEO John Rademacher. “In addition to delivering strong financial results, the team continued to focus on integration efforts and laying the groundwork for future growth, while always remaining focused on the thousands of patients relying on us for critical therapy every single day.” 

VGM adds partnerships with Ardo, LUCI 

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM has partnered with Ardo medical to offer the company’s new products for expecting and breastfeeding mothers to VGM and Essentially Women members. “In addition to providing mothers with the necessary means to feed their babies, we are now offering VGM & EW members support products for breastfeeding mothers, such as ultra-pure Ardo Care Lanolin cream or the Vegan alternative Ardo Care Balm,” said Samuel Krähenbühl, CEO of Ardo medical AG, the parent company of Ardo medical.  “As the year progresses, we will introduce to VGM & EW members additional products to support moms through their pregnancy, during birth and after their child is born”…U.S. Rehab, a division of VGM, has partnered with LUCI to provide the company’s smart wheelchair technology to its members. “We are honored to be in a relationship with LUCI and have the ability to acquire this new top technology in the industry and make this product accessible to the independent providers and CRT providers in the U.S.,” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab. 

Invacare to offer convertible senior notes 

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare will offer $100 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2026 in a private offering to qualified institutional buyers. In connection with the offering, the company expects to grant the initial purchaser an option to purchase up to an additional $15 million aggregate principal amount of notes, which will be delivered within a 13-day period beginning on, and including, the date Invacare first issues the notes. The notes will not be redeemable before March 20, 2024, at which time the company may, at its option, redeem for cash all or any portion of the notes only upon satisfaction of certain conditions and during certain periods, at 100% of their principal, plus any accrued and unpaid interest. 

Numotion expands reach in North Dakota 

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has opened a new location in Fargo, N.D., its second in the state. The Numotion Fargo Team includes ATPs Jason Steiner and Bobby Peterson; Nancy Froslie, director of business development; and Laura West, customer care coordinator. “Expanding our presence with this new location strengthens our ability to provide mobility solutions to not only Fargo but surrounding communities, “said Mike Swinford, CEO. “Fargo is a great community with strong health care systems, and we look forward to continuing to partner with area physicians and therapists to provide the best possible solutions for individuals with mobility and personal independence needs in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.” Numotion’s other North Dakota location is in Bismarck. 

Survey: Americans prefer to get COVID-19 vax from trusted provider, says NCPA 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Four out of 10 Americans prefer to receive COVID-19 vaccines from a trusted health care provider, such as their local pharmacist or doctor, according to a new survey from the National Association of Community Pharmacists. Only 4% prefer to be vaccinated at a mass health event. “Pharmacies are being underutilized,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA. “Millions of Americans would prefer to get immunized by a local health care provider, like their pharmacist. Community pharmacies have the capacity and the ability to vaccinate many more people than they are currently able to because of the supply and pharmacy allocation issues.” Twenty-six percent of adults surveyed said they have already received one of the COVID-19 vaccines, and another 41% say they plan to be immunized as soon as they are eligible. 

Ventec appoints Alwan as president, CEO 

BOTHELL, Wash. – Ventec Life Systems has named Jim Alwan, president and CEO. Alwan has more than 25 years of experience in medical device management, most recently as senior vice president and general manager of the Hospital Respiratory Care Business at Philips Healthcare. Before that, he was vice president, Innovation and Business Development, at Becton Dickinson. “Jim brings a track record of industry accomplishment and effective leadership to Ventec,” Ventec Life Systems Board of Directors Chairman Jim Hickey told the paper. “He has a unique blend of market knowledge, general management, and engineering skills. We are pleased that Jim has joined Ventec and look forward to significant company growth under his guidance.” Ventec, the maker of the VOCSN Multi-Function Ventilator, partnered with GM to ramp up production of its vents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Belluscura cleared to launch POC 

LONDON – Tekcapital has announced that its portfolio company Belluscura has been granted 501(k) clearance and marketing authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its X-PLO2R portable oxygen concentrator. “We are excited to see that the FDA has cleared the X-PLO2R device for sale, as Tekcapital and Belluscura believe it could be helpful to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many of the 250 million people worldwide suffering from COPD,” said Clifford Gross, PhD, executive chairman of Tekcapital. Belluscura developed the POC with its research partner Separation Design Group, an “oxygen enrichment research laboratory.” Belluscura expects to commercially launch the X-PLO2R, which delivers up to 95% pure oxygen to patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and weighs 3.25 pounds, this year. Tekcapital owns about 17.85 of Belluscura. 

Permobil Foundation donates wheelchair 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Permobil Foundation gifted a new Permobil wheelchair to Gary Miracle at a MercyMe concert on March 6 in Jacksonville, Fla. MercyMe, a Nashville-based Christian rock band, shared Miracle’s recovery story in their new video and song “Say I Won’t.” “It was a very emotional moment, a celebration of his faith and perseverance,” said Ashley Davis, executive director of the Permobil Foundation. “We hope this chair will give him the independence he needs and deserves to live life with fewer limitations. He’s doing all the hard work – we just wanted to help make it a little easier for him.” Miracle, the band’s former merchandising rep and tour bus driver lost both of his arms and legs after failing into septic shock in January 2020. “Say I Won’t” is a tribute from the band to their friend. 

NorthShore Care Supply expands B2B sales 

GREEN OAKS, Ill. – NorthShore Care Supply has named Sandra DiVito to the newly created position of vice president, B2B sales and development. DiVito will be responsible for establishing the company’s B2B sales function, growing revenue and driving partner relationships. “She will help us shape NorthShore’s reputation in the B2B community and advance our focus on providing a superior buying experience for B2B customers,” said Adam Greenberg, president and founder of NorthShore. DiVito was vice president of hospitality and health care for Protect-A-Bed for eight years, helping to develop the company’s national brand presence by partnering with leading industry distributors. Previously, she was director of business development with US Foodservice-Culinary Division. 

Medicare spending for physician services drops $9.4B in first half of 2020 

CHICAGO – Medicare spending for physician services dropped as much as 57% below expected pre-pandemic levels in April of 2020, according to a new report from the American Medical Association. 

During the first half of 2020, the cumulative estimated reduction in Medicare physician spending associated with the pandemic was $9.4 billion, the report says.  

“The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant financial stress on medical practices as expenses have spiked and revenues have dropped,” said Susan Bailey, M.D., president of the AMA. “For practices that have struggled to remain viable as the pandemic stretches on, many will face a difficult and precarious road to recovery. The AMA report adds new insight on the economic impact of the pandemic that has threatened the viability of physicians who participate in Medicare.” 

Medicare spending partially recovered from the April low but was still 12% less than expected by the end of June 2020, according to the report. 

When compared to expected 2020 Medicare spending on physician services, the report found that actual spending for the first six months of 2020 declined regardless of service type, setting or specialty, and state or region, and that the severity of the impacts varied substantially. 

The report also found telehealth spending increased dramatically during the study period, from 0.1% to 16% of total Medicare spending on physician services, but it was concentrated in a handful of service categories. Established patient office visits accounted for one-half of telehealth spending. 

Americans prefer local pharmacists, survey shows 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A large majority of American adults prefer to get their prescription drugs from a local pharmacist instead of mail-order service because of their personal relationships with pharmacists, according to a new national survey released by the National Community Pharmacists Association. “Most Americans clearly are not willing to substitute personal care for the perception of convenience,” said B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, CEO of the NCPA. “When they need medicine, they want to talk to a health care provider who knows them.” Eighty five percent prefer to get their prescription drugs from a local pharmacist instead of mail-order service, according to the survey of 1,390 adults. Thirty-six percent credit their personal relationships with pharmacists, with 32% saying their pharmacist answers questions and provides counsel. Additionally, 15% say they’re worried about their drugs getting lost in the mail, exposed to elements or stolen. “Americans have been ordering many more things in the mail because of the pandemic, but they are still reluctant to get their prescriptions that way,” Hoey said. “COVID-19 has changed many consumer behaviors, but it doesn’t seem to have changed the basic relationship between patients and local pharmacists. There’s a trust factor that mail-order companies can’t replicate.” 

LUCI builds outside sales team 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – LUCI has formed a LUCI Commercial Market Team through partnerships with 10 independent representation groups. The partnerships span 47 states, increasing the availability of the company’s smart wheelchair technology to thousands of additional power wheelchair riders across the country. “The goal of LUCI is simple: to help people,” said Barry Dean, co-founder and CEO. “Forging new relationships like these is a direct result of that goal. We are so excited to launch these partnerships and to meet more riders and provide them with the safety, security and connectivity they deserve from their power wheelchair.” The Commercial Market Team is comprised of Brewis Group, FMT & Associates, Grams Consulting, Independent Medical Representatives, Rehab Marketing Inc., John Monroe, Provision Associates, Rabson Rehab Sales, Southwestern Medical Reps and Target Mobility. The formation of the team follows nationwide partnerships with leading distributors and providers, including Numotion and National Seating & Mobility

Ability Members Group hits 79 locations 

TORONTO – Ability Members Group has added Align Home Health Care to its network of providers. Align Home Health Care has four locations in southeastern Ontario. Ability Members Group’s network now spans 79 locations, toward a goal of 100. “We wanted to be part of a larger group, which will give us advantages with business development support and sustainable business practices,” said Dennis Mahoney, CEO of Align Home Health Care. “With the scale that Ability Members Group has, we now have access to programs and partnerships that we previously did not.” Ability Members Group launched in 2017 and its network now covers locations across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Yukon. 


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