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In brief: Emergency preparedness, RehabPulse investment, Permobil hero

In brief: Emergency preparedness, RehabPulse investment, Permobil hero

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM, state and regional HME associations and other stakeholders have launched a survey to help guide an Emergency Preparedness for Home Medical Equipment Suppliers Committee that was formed earlier this year. 

Information from the 10-question survey on provider experiences during disasters will be collected and sent to appropriate officials who may be able to assist with improved processes and programs. Committee members have already met with Tangita Daramola, the competitive acquisition ombudsman for CMS, as well as other agency officials. 

The survey closes Nov. 11. 

The committee was formed earlier this year when southern states like Texas and Oklahoma were hit with an unexpected winter storm that left many patients who rely on oxygen concentrators and other medical equipment without power for days. 

The goal of the committee is to raise awareness of the need for breathing and mobility devices during a natural disaster and to develop a toolkit for providers to follow in emergency situations. 

Committee members include Dawn Seek of MNCHA, Larry Dalton of OMEPA, Beth Bowen of ACMESA/ATHOMES/NEMEP/FAHCS, Bob Achermann of CAMPS, Rose Schafhauser of MAMES/SWMESA, Victoria Peterson of TexMEP, Mike Calcaterra of Big Sky AMES/PAMES, Chris Townsend of FAHCS, and John Gallagher and Emily Harken of VGM.  

RehabPulse attracts $4.5M 

MADISON, Wis. – RehabPulse, an online marketplace for a wide range of DME solutions and services, has secured $4.5 million in its latest funding round. 

The company says it has also become the first online marketplace in the DME industry to offer integrated online insurance claims processing. 

“In RehabPulse, we created a one-stop shop for medical products and services, and our insurance integration now presents an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the complexities involved with the insurance claim process and allow best access at the lowest price,” said Gaurav Mishra, CEO of RehabPulse. 

The company says it will use the new funds to: expand its team, innovate the artificial intelligence and deep technology that underpins its platform, further develop its insurance claims process services and grow its distribution model to improve access to DME at an affordable price. 

Participants in the funding round included existing investors WISC Partners and high net worth investors active in the digital health care space, according to a press release. “RehabPulse has the opportunity to revolutionize an area of health care that is cumbersome and antiquated,” said Dr. Juliet Breeze, one of the lead investors in the round. “An update to the process of prescribing and obtaining DME for patients in a cost-effective and convenience manner is long overdue.” 

Rowheels, a manufacturer of manual, electric and power wheelchairs, launched RehabPulse in 2020.  

One Drop launches cardiovascular prevention tool 

NEW YORK – One Drop has released a digital, AI-enabled cardiovascular disease prevention module, the first in its expansion into a wider range of therapeutic areas beyond diabetes management. 

The module, developed in partnership with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, provides members with a personalized digital health program that combines clinical best practices with the latest in technology and predictive analytics to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. 

"The new CVD prevention module comes from combining our respective expertise to jointly bridge the gap between health care and technology," said Jeanne Kehren, CIO and head of digital and commercial innovation, Bayer Pharmaceuticals. "This launch is an important milestone in our joint endeavor with One Drop to make integrated care a transformative solution for the patients and a key player in the health care industry." 

The program includes a user-friendly app that provides a holistic set of digital tools and coaching –personalizing care, gathering data and providing actionable insights. 

The program seeks to reduce the broader burden of disease for those at risk, while lowering costs for employers and health plans. 

"By removing barriers to access to care and critical health information, One Drop instills confidence in our members, equipping them with the tools needed to make intelligent decisions, improve outcomes and reach their full potential," said Rachel Yap Martens, executive vice president of commercial solutions and corporate strategy at One Drop. "The life-altering potential of our cardiovascular disease prevention module would not have been possible without the support and deep expertise from our strategic partner, Bayer. This module is one of many outputs to come, thanks to our productive partnership that will help countless people improve their lives." 

Mississippi Medicaid eliminates cut 

JACKSON, Miss. – Lawmakers in Mississippi have eliminated a long-standing 5% reduction in Medicaid rates for DME effective July 1, 2021, AAHomecare reports. “This is a great win for Mississippi suppliers and a testament to what HME advocates can achieve at the state level,” said Matthew Boyd, COO for Jones County Medical Supply and president of MS MAMES, who helped lead efforts to eliminate the cut. “Our team focused on explaining the value that HME provides to the Mississippi Medicaid program and its beneficiaries, and the challenges suppliers faced under the current reimbursement structure. We were consistent and persistent in making our case across the legislature; that’s what it takes to succeed.” DME was one of the few sectors that had not been exempted from the cuts through earlier legislation. Boyd credited the leadership of his colleagues on the MS MAMES board – member David Hosemann from Hometown Medical, in particular – and the strong support from state Sen. Kevin Blackwell. 
Oventus grows DTC sales channel ..

BRISBANE, Australia – Oventus had revenue of $221,000 for its fiscal first quarter 2022, in line with the previous quarter. Its direct-to-consumer sales channel grew, with visits more than doubling, from 118,000 to 247,000, over the prior quarter. “While the COVID pandemic continues to hamper patient volumes for some of our clinical partners in the U.S., Australia and Canada, it is very pleasing to see our DTC marketing program achieving positive results,” said Dr. Chris Hart, managing director. “With limited options available to seek in-person consultations, patients with sleep apnea are actively searching for alternate treatment solutions, which is a reflection of our strong lead generation during the quarter.” Although most of the company’s focus is now on the DTC sales channel, Oventus observed a gradual reopening of Virtual Lab-in-Lab sites in Canada and unit sales growth in Australia during the quarter. Within the U.S., the company has entered into in-network insurance contracts that also delivered a strong increase in conversion rates from people showing interest in becoming a patient/customer. 

… reapplies to PDAC 

BRISBANE, Australia – Oventus Medical has reapplied to Palmetto GBA, the pricing data analysis and coding contractor (PDAC), for approval of the newly submitted Optima version of its O2Vent oral appliance to treat obstructive sleep apnea. This version of the device is designed specifically for Medicare patients. “In the meantime, this means that O2Vent Optima will not be able to be supplied to Medicare patients in its own right for reimbursement purposes,” the company stated. The PDAC recently recoded the previously approved O2Vent Optima as A9270, a non-covered item or service. Oventus says that, to date, Medicare patients have represented a very small percentage of its sales in the United States. 

Registration opens for NHIA conference 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Registration is now open for the National Home Infusion Association’s 2022 Annual Conference, scheduled for March 12-16, 2022, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. “NHIA is thrilled to bring the home and specialty infusion community back together for our 2022 Annual Conference,” said Connie Sullivan, president and CEO. “We’ve missed our colleagues and friends and look forward to learning and networking with one another in person.” The four-day event offers networking, education and fun, as well as an additional day of exclusive pre-conference seminars for sterile compounding, RN essentials and executives. Also returning this year: the Sterile Compounding Clinic hands-on training in a simulated clean room environment.  

Study looks at connection between electricity cost, health outcomes 

YARMOUTH, Maine – Policymakers should consider the high costs of operating oxygen equipment and other DME, especially for low-income individuals who obtain equipment from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, according to a new study published in JAMA Network. Researchers obtained DME data from CMS for 2018 and annual electricity cost data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration Electricity Data Browser for each state at residential delivery prices. Depending on the needs of the patient, local electricity prices and the flow rate of oxygen prescribed, the cost of running electric oxygen concentrators can vary substantially and potentially result in financial hardship or suboptimal use of therapy because of cost concerns, they found. In Hawaii, which has the highest national cost of electricity, the annual projected maximum cost is $1,991 for a high-oxygen-flow, 700-watt concentrator used continuously. Factors such as altitude, prevalence of pulmonary disease, air quality, occupational exposures and average age of beneficiaries likely contribute to prescribed oxygen flow rates and oxygen concentrator use patterns. Researchers say further study is needed to better characterize the relationship between DME and persistently highly variable costs, patient use patterns and health outcomes. 

RESNA announces new board members ... 

ARLINTON, Va. – RESNA has announced new members have joined its Professional Standards Board. They are Claire Campbell, SLP, ATP; Rob Oliver, consumer member; Mike Osborn, ATP, CRTS; and Marcia Scherer, PhD. All members will serve three-year terms. The PBS board also elected the following officers: Julie Piriano, PT, ATP/SMS, chair; Kyle Walker, ATP, vice chair; Douglas Rakoski, ATP, secretary; and Antoinette Verdone, ATP/RET, chair, Complaints Review Committee. RESNA thanks its outgoing board members Michele Gunn, ATP/CRTS; Johnny Kelly, consumer member; Rich Schein, PhD; and Lois Turner, SLP, ATP. 

… calls for proposals 

ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA will accept session proposals for its annual conference from Nov. 1 to Nov. 29. RESNA 2022 Conference: Driving the future of Assistive Technology is scheduled to take place in Arlington, Va., July 14-16. RESNA is accepting proposals for “buzz” sessions, 30-minute sessions devoted to one hot topic; general sessions, 60-minute sessions that are interactive; and master classes, 90-minute sessions that are more in-depth. The organization is not accepting proposals for half-day or full day instructional courses. A Conference Committee, along with their chosen experts composed of professionals with expertise in a range of topic areas, will review the proposals. The committee will review proposals based on, among other things, a clear abstract summarizing the session content; and a subject matter that is timely, relevant and not too narrowly focused. RESNA plans to publish the final program for the conference by April 2022. 

New report backs Medicare Advantage 

WASHINGTON – Better Medicare Alliance has released a new report conducted by Milliman highlighting the value of Medicare Advantage to the federal government. The report finds that Medicare Advantage provides $32.5 billion annually in additional benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries, or about $123.36 per member per month. “This independent, actuarial report offers an important look at Medicare Advantage’s value to beneficiaries and the federal government,” said Mary Beth Donahue, President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “At a time when lawmakers are weighing important policy considerations for seniors’ health care, Milliman’s findings demonstrate that Medicare Advantage delivers additional benefits and reduced cost-sharing.” Specifically, the report finds that Medicare Advantage plans cover the same hospital and physician services at 24% lower cost per member per month (PMPM) than FFS Medicare ($709.66 in MA vs. $935.67 in FFS), excluding administrative expense and profits. To develop the report, Milliman researchers applied a sensitivity analysis by adjusting FFS Medicare costs by +/-5% to account for the possibility that government payments to Medicare Advantage and FFS Medicare are not directly comparable. 

Copper Star opens in Tempe 

PHOENIX – Copper Star Home Medical Supplies has announced plans to open its next location in Tempe, Ariz., by the end of the year. The retail provider plans to serve the whole Phoenix-metro valley from the new 12,000 square foot location at 2415 W Erie Drive, right next to Tempe Diablo Stadium. “We are always looking for ways to improve and always be here for our customers,” said Korry Johnston, president. “We are dedicated to providing an excellent place for our employees to work, as well as doing everything we can to take care of our customers and community.” Copper Star has grown from one to five locations this year. The company’s locations, which are open six days a week, offer a range of equipment and supplies, as well as a white glove delivery service to a customer’s home that includes set-up and demonstration. The locations are in Goodyear, Mesa, Surprise, Phoenix and now Tempe. 

Permobil Foundation names Gleason ‘Hero’ 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Permobil Foundation named Steve Gleason, an ALS advocate and former NFL player, as the recipient of its Hero Award at the Roll the Dice Casino Gala. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” said Gleason, who has used a Permobil F5 power wheelchair for the last eight years. “For me, Permobil and the Foundation and all the people who make it possible for me to roll through this life – they are the heroes!” The Permobil Foundation has given out the Hero Award every year since it was founded in 2017. Past recipients are Eric LeGrand, Rhonda Clark, Todd Stabelfeldt and Charlie Ray Howell. The recipient is nominated and voted on by the foundation’s board of directors. The Casino Gala, with support from attendees and sponsors like National Seating & Mobility, Reliable Medical and U.S. Rebab, raised more than $70,000. 

VGM calls for presentations 

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM is now accepting proposals from prospective speakers for its annual Heartland Conference. Organizers are looking for speakers to offer their expertise on a variety of topics, including respiratory, business leadership and people strategies, rehab, billing and reimbursement, business operations, retail, sales and marketing, home accessibility and audits. “Each year our goal is to offer better education than the year before and fill our education tracks with a robust lineup of sessions,” said Kayla Mahler, chair of Heartland education. “We are looking for thought leaders and industry experts to share their knowledge and experiences to both educate and inspire the hundreds of attendees.” The 2022 conference takes place June 13-15 in Waterloo, Iowa, the corporate headquarters of VGM. Speakers get the opportunity to not only share their expertise but also network with attendees, who include home care industry experts, as well as health care professionals working in a wide variety of roles and with all level of experience. “There’s no shortage of opportunity for presenters at the Heartland Conference,” Mahler said. “It’s the perfect place to bring visibility and quality leads to your business.” VGM is accepting proposals through Dec. 17. 

 Registration opens for Focus Conference 

WATERLOO, Iowa – Registration is now open for Essentially Women’s Focus Conference. The annual event for women’s health providers, is scheduled for Feb. 5-7 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla. “We are excited to host our conference in person again,” said Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women. “It is a place where our members can network, share best practices and just relax and have some fun with each other, which is much needed after the challenges of the last 18 months.” The conference features a keynote speaker, seminars, networking and continuing education opportunities. New this year: Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in Retail Round Tables and a Vendor Connections Event. “The Retain Round Tables will be a great opportunity for our attendees to learn more retail strategies,” Jensen said. “The Vendor Connections Event is kind of like speed dating, but with our vendor partners. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet vendors in a fast-paced environment, giving them the opportunity to discover new product lines, grow existing product lines or find new business opportunities.” Early bird registration ends Nov. 1. 

Nominations open for annual women’s health award 

WATERLOO, Iowa – Nominations for Essentially Women’s 3rd Annual EW Ruth Addison Award of Excellence are open. Essentially Women presents this award each year to an individual who has made a significant impact within her company, her community and the women’s health industry. Nominees can be women’s health providers, mastectomy fitters, manufacturers and other professionals in the women’s health industry. Nominations are open to all women, regardless of title or position, through Nov. 30.


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