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Mica Phillips on the high risk, high reward of urologicals market

Mica Phillips on the high risk, high reward of urologicals market

Mica PhillipsASHEVILLE, N.C. – In his nine years at Aeroflow Healthcare, Mica Phillips has seen Aeroflow Urology grow from the smallest division at the company, with two employees, including him, to one of the largest suppliers of continence care products in the United States, with more than 150 employees. 

“To be a good provider of these supplies is to be educated on insurance benefits, be able to speak to patients in realistic terms about them, and to recognize that the needs and concerns of a male with a spinal cord injury in their 20s may be radically different than a female patient with multiple sclerosis in her 60s, though both need to use fundamentally similar products,” said Phillips, who was recently named vice president of the division. “Our customer care representatives take a lot of pride in working with a patient who is new to a somewhat intimidating and scary health routine of catheterization, and talking them through the process and helping find the right product that works for them.” 

Phillips spoke with HME News recently about the rewards and challenges in the urologicals market and how he plans to continue to be an advocate for better reimbursement and better access to the right products. 

HME News: You’ve been in this space for a number of years. What have you found to be most rewarding about working with these patients? 

Mica Phillips: The most rewarding aspect of serving patients with catheter and urological needs is the high degree of personalization and sensitivity required to meet a person’s complex needs. There are thousands of distinct products in the catheter space, with seemingly small differences between many of them. However, due to the variety of conditions that necessitate the use of a catheter, a variety of co-morbidities and differences in patient anatomy, it can require some trial and error to find the product that really fits an individual’s needs. 

HME: Urological products have strict documentation and medical coverage requirements. How does this impact patient access? 

Phillips: This can make obtaining the required documents from a patient’s physician a very challenging task and can require a lot of time investment and detailed explanation by customer care staff. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the labor required to qualify a patient, and maintain ongoing documentation, is reflected in the reimbursement trends of the category. Nor are the costs of the more premium hydrophilic and discrete products that many manufacturers have developed in recent years. Patients want these features, and their life and outcomes would likely be enhanced by them, but it can be challenging to have many insurers understand those nuances and have them set reimbursement accordingly. It is often a race to the bottom which leaves patients with fewer choices. 

HME: How do you see your role evolving? 

Phillips: I’ve spoken to the patients that use these products firsthand and know their complexities and how to provide quality care to them. I hope to be able to continue to be an advocate for reimbursement and documentation requirements which are adaptable and reflective of the realities of the market today, not the market of 10 years ago. Insurance is an inaccessible and challenging topic in the best of circumstances, even more so for those with chronic health issues. We need to appeal to insurers on their behalf, so that we are able to provide quality care, and the specific products they need, for the rest of their lives.


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