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Patients, referral sources show new appreciation for HME

Patients, referral sources show new appreciation for HME But policymakers need to catch up, say poll respondents

YARMOUTH, Maine – HME’s stock has risen in the larger health care ecosystem, as more and more care has been pushed into the home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, say respondents to a recent HME Newspoll.

It’s a huge improvement over the old perception of HME providers as equipment jockeys, say the more than half of respondents (56%) who report the pandemic has caused patients, referral sources and policymakers to view HME more favorably.

“We have been viewed more as a ‘partner’ in the care of the patient,” wrote one respondent. “We worked with our five local hospitals’ emergency departments and provided home oxygen to COVID patients. We also provided oximeters at no cost to the patient.”

That’s the kind of story industry stakeholders have been trying to share as part of their efforts to get relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program and other industry challenges. AAHomecare recently engaged public relations firm Keybridge Communications to help show the value of HME.

Referral sources, above all, have a new appreciation for HME, say respondents.

“We always had a great relationship with our referral sources, but they had called a few other HMEs and they would not come after 6pm and everyone knows that the standard process went out the window during these crazy times,” wrote Jodi Clark, director, Walnut Medical Services. “They see how dedicated that we are and we never closed our doors during these trying times. We just made adjustments for safety.”

Still, while relationships with referral sources are important, what really needs to happen is for policymakers to see the value in HME and implement reimbursement and policies that reflect that, say respondents.

“Customers want and need more HME, referrals want and need more HME,” wrote John Komuda, president, CNY Medical Products. “Policymakers just don't want to find the funds to allow for better access and more services. As a DME and complex rehab provider, we have seen our costs continue to rise every year without an increase in reimbursement in over 15 years.”


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