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Trial seeks to promote respiratory therapists

Trial seeks to promote respiratory therapists

LOS ANGELES - A new trial is examining the value of respiratory therapists, but its sponsor hopes it will lead the HME industry to think more about clinical services than reimbursement.

Industry veteran Vernon Pertelle's company StratiHealth is behind a trial to determine the benefit of education and case management by respiratory therapists on improvements in health outcomes and quality of life for COPD patients. Enrollment by invitation began in March, and StratiHealth wants 100 patients to complete the yearlong study.

“This is the beginning of something I think has to happen throughout the HME industry in that the dollars devoted to lobbying have to be shifted to research,” Pertelle said. “We haven't done a good job of demonstrating value through evidence and that's beginning to affect us in the home care and acute-care environment.”

With healthcare reform set to require hospitals to reduce readmissions within 30 days for COPD starting in 2014, or face penalties, it's a good time to try and swing that pendulum the other way.

“The respiratory therapist, being very knowledgeable of COPD and really all respiratory conditions, helps empower the patient with the information and knowledge that they can use to care for themselves,” said Pertelle. “If we look at the foundation of where patients will improve with self management, the answer is education.”

Pertelle said the study will form the basis for developing a standardized, comprehensive model to fit the needs of various organizations, based on things like population density or location.

“This study will be a landmark in that it will now create the framework for more discussion and expedite the use of respiratory therapists,” said Pertelle.


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