Outlook for 2020: ‘Focus on service and trust’

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Friday, September 18, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit home that providers need to go from being HMEs to HMAs—home medical advisors, said Invacare’s Matthew Monaghan during last week’s HME News Business Summit. 

“It’s less of a focus on E for equipment and more on service and trust,” said Monaghan, chairman, president, CEO of Invacare. “For the next 18 months, it’s really about going beyond equipment and being that trusted care advisor.” 

Monaghan, a panelist for the session “Outlook for 2020 and beyond,” was joined by Scott Wilkinson, CEO of Inogen, and Jim Hollingshead, president, sleep and respiratory care, at ResMed. 

As more residential and long-term care facilities close or face restrictions due to COVID-19, at-risk patients will have to be cared for in the home—a reality that didn’t exist six months ago—and providers can use their expertise to put the minds of family members and professional care providers  at ease, Monaghan said. 

“That will be a neat opportunity for providers to show they’re different— (making) people feel comfortable that they can provide loved ones the care that they need in this environment, which is going to linger for awhile,” he said. 

Adapt and adopt 

The pandemic has made providing health care more difficult, but it’s also driving convenience, Monaghan said. Invacare is developing products that are easier to set up and designing order forms that allow for more nuance, so products are ready out of the package. 

“Amazon is helping us find what the ultimate tools of convenience are and providers can get those same kinds of benefits that allow them to get more done,” he said. 

Inogen is also making it easier for providers by offering to drop ship on their behalf.  

“We’ve all got to work together to drive cost out of the system,” said Wilkinson. “Why should we ship a product to a home care company, and then they have to pay to ship or deliver it, when we can cut that out and all share in the savings?” 

But the best way providers can get ahead is by embracing technology, which has already been fast tracked by the pandemic by at least two or three years, says Wilkinson. 

“Telemedicine and connected devices are here to stay,” he said. “That’s a great way to reduce service costs, minimize unplanned events and eliminate unnecessary product swaps.” 

With reimbursement and volumes, in some cases, temporarily down, Hollingshead acknowledges that it’s hard for providers to make that kind of investment, but it’s the best way to streamline care and manage operating expenses.  

“To me it’s simple: Adopt the tools,” he said.