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    10/12/2017
    HME News Staff

    ATLANTA – HME Provider Gary Sheehan has been named the 2017 Van Miller Homecare Champion, AAHomecare announced this week.

    The award, which will be presented at the Stand Up for Homecare reception on Oct. 24 during Medtrade, recognizes AAHomecare members for outstanding service in the HME industry.

    Sheehan, CEO of the 40-year-old Sandwich, Mass.-based Cape Medical Supply, has advocated for HME at both the state and regional level, building strong relationships throughout New England, as well as Capitol Hill.

    Sheehan has also served in several leadership roles with theHome Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England and has presented at numerous conferences and conventions.

    Missy Cross was the recipient of the inaugural award, created in 2016 when AAHomecare renamed its Homecare Champion Award to honor The VGM Group’s Van G. Miller, who died unexpectedly in 2015.


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    They’re sharing draft language, circulating position papers
    10/13/2017
    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders have begun the task of shoring up support in anticipation of a bill that would provide some relief from the competitive bid program.

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has released draft language of the legislation, which would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019. Per the legislation, reimbursement for that period would be based on reimbursement on Jan. 1, 2016.

    “McMorris Rodgers asked us to share the draft language,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “We’ve shared it with our councils and state leaders, and put together position papers. It’s top of the agenda.”

    The legislation would also remedy a “double-dip” cut to oxygen payments caused by the misapplication of a 2006 budget neutrality offset balancing increased utilization for oxygen generating portable equipment with lower reimbursement for stationary equipment.
 

    Stakeholders say the goal is for the bill to drop by Nov. 1. It’s hard to say whether there will be an appropriate vehicle to attach it to.

    “McMorris Rodgers is Republican leadership, so she is really evaluating the options,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy for AAHomecare. “There’s been some discussion about the Medicare extenders in the fall or a possibility of moving forward as a standalone.”

    With an interim final rule titled “Durable Medical Equipment Fee Schedule, Adjustment to Resume the Transitional 50/50 Blended Rates to Provider Relief in Non-Competitive Bidding Areas,” seemingly stalled at the Office of Management and Budget and the shocking resignation of industry champion Tom Price from his post as Health and Human Services secretary, stakeholders say they are as ready as HME providers to seem some action this fall.

    “Short term, we’ve got to push this bill to say, hey, this is the will of Congress,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM. “Get off the dime; get the IFR done.”

     


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  • 10/13/17--11:14: HME: Not so hip on HIPAA?
  • ‘The No. 1 focus of audits is the security and risk assessment, which is woefully missing in this industry’
    10/13/2017
    Liz Beaulieu

    ATLANTA – Industry consultants report a number of HIPAA-related audits making the rounds in the HME industry and the best they can tell, providers, for the most part, are not prepared for them.

    The key elements of HIPAA compliance revolve around three safeguards, says Wayne van Halem: administrative (do you have policies and procedures in place, and do you perform training and education); physical (where are you storing your physical records, and are they secure?); and technical (where are you storing your electronic records, and are they secure?).

    “We know of two companies now that have gotten letters from the Office for Civil Rights (within the Department of Health and Human Services) requesting information on their HIPAA compliance program, specifically a copy of their security and risk assessment, which is something that HIPAA requires all providers to do at least on an annual basis,” said van Halem, president of The van Halem Group.

    While a large majority of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll (77%) report they have a documented HIPAA compliance program in place, only a slight majority (56%) report it includes a written security and risk assessment.

    Providers may be dedicated to protecting patient data in practice, but if their efforts aren’t in writing, they might as well not exist, says Tom Meadows, owner of HIPAAwise, which offers HIPAA compliance software and which has an agreement with The van Halem Group to combine their services.

    “It’s one thing for providers to say they think about the risks and they talk about them in meetings—they need to document the key elements of the requirements,” he said. “The No. 1 focus of audits is the security and risk assessment, which is woefully missing in this industry.”

    Documenting compliance may be a mundane process, but it’s an important one, say van Halem and Meadows, who readily tick off other things providers should be putting in writing, including when employee training takes place and how their business associate agreements protect patient data.

    “We know of a company that didn’t have a business associate agreement in place for a subcontractor and was fined $30,000,” van Halem said.

    While the HME industry is lucky in that cyber criminals don’t see HME records as valuable as, say, EHR records, HME records still often contain Social Security numbers and banking information, which is attractive data.

    “That’s one reason why breaches, and audits, are increasing,” Meadows said.

    The OCR has made a significant investment into an online portal that lists breaches—some 20,000 in the past five years, Meadows also notes.

    “The audits started last year and they’ve only done 150 HME-type companies so far,” he said. “But I believe there are more to come.”


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    10/13/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – More than 60% of case managers report an increase in the number of Medicare beneficiaries who have developed medical complications, received emergency care or were readmitted to a hospital due to issues related to obtaining proper and/or timely access to DME, according to a final report from Dobson DaVanzo & Associates.

    “(The competitive bidding program has) negatively affected beneficiaries’ access to DME services and supplies, adversely impacted case managers’ ability to coordinate DME for patients, and placed an additional strain on suppliers to deliver quality products without delay,” states the report, completed in conjunction with AAHomecare. “If timely adjustments are not made, there is little doubt the beneficiaries, case managers and suppliers will continue to face adverse outcomes, particularly in rural areas.”

    The report, “Access to Home Medical Equipment: Survey of Beneficiary, Case Manager and Supplier Experiences,” was based on a survey of more than 1,000 beneficiaries, case managers/discharge planners and HME providers.

    Other findings from the report:

    ·      74.3% of beneficiaries report a discontinuity or disruption in their ability to receive oxygen and supplies since July 1, 2016, when a second wave of reimbursement cuts went into effect in non-bid areas as part of a national rollout of the program.

    ·      75.2% of case managers report issues accessing and coordinating oxygen therapy for their patients.

    ·      85% of suppliers report beneficiaries have privately purchased DME and supplies, opting not to use their Medicare benefits to file claim.

    “This report empirically validates the problems we have been experiencing with the competitive bidding program for the past several years,” said Steve Ackerman, chairman of AAHomecare’s board of directors, and president of Spectrum Medical. “The eager response to the survey from beneficiaries and discharge planners shows that these are problems adversely affecting the entire homecare community.”

    AAHomecare had already shared preliminary findings from the survey with staff at Health and Human Services, CMS and the Office of Management and Budget.

    CMS rescinds proposed orthotics rule

    WASHINGTON – CMS has announced it is withdrawing a proposed rule that would have required any practitioner or supplier who provides custom orthotics to be licensed in states where it is required.

    The rule, released in January, was strongly opposed by physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists. The rule has actually been a law since 2000, but it has never been fully implemented.

    CMS said it was withdrawing the rule due to “the cost and time burdens that the proposed rule would create for many providers and suppliers, particularly the cost and burden for those providers and suppliers that are small businesses.”

    The Trump administration has pledged to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses.

    Industry associations like the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics, however, supported the rule.

    “AOPA is disappointed that CMS decided to withdraw the proposed rule that would finally create regulations to implement a law that was passed more than 17 years ago,” the association said in a press release. “The withdrawal of the proposed rule once again exposes the Medicare population to no regulation regarding what qualifications are required to provide custom orthotic and prosthetic services.”

    In May, Sen. Chuck Grassley R-Iowa, and Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., introduced The Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2017 in both the Senate and House that calls on CMS to enforce a law that O&P providers be certified to receive payments under Medicare. Similar bills have been introduced in previous sessions of Congress.

    Permobil expands seating, positioning portfolio

    LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil continues to consolidate the seating and positioning market with its acquisition of Comfort Company.

    The Bozeman, Mont.-based Comfort Company manufactures seating and postural support systems for customers with a wide range of rehabilitation needs. It joins the ROHO Group, a Belleville, Ill.-based manufacturer of seating and positioning systems, under the Permobil umbrella.

    “Following the purchase of ROHO in 2015, the acquisition of Comfort Company further strengthens Permobil’s position within both the complex rehab and long-term care markets,” said Tom Borcherding, president of Permobil seating and positioning systems. “We see tremendous synergies with the addition of Comfort Company’s portfolio together with ROHO’s solutions.”

    Comfort Company manufactures from a facility in New Berlin, Wis., and has more than 200 employees.

    Eric Murphy, president of Comfort Company, says Permobil is a good fit, because it shares its vision of providing a high level of quality and service.

    “Comfort Company has always had a strong focus and passion for the customer across the pediatric, geriatric and bariatric segments,” he said.

    Permobil is on a buying spree as of late: It announced earlier in October that it was taking over operations of TiLite New Zealand and earlier this year that it had acquired Durable Medical Equipment Ltd.

    Provider Gary Sheehan named Homecare Champion

    ATLANTA – HME Provider Gary Sheehan has been named the 2017 Van Miller Homecare Champion, AAHomecare announced this week.

    The award, which will be presented at the Stand Up for Homecare reception on Oct. 24 during Medtrade, recognizes AAHomecare members for outstanding service in the HME industry.

    Sheehan, CEO of the 40-year-old Sandwich, Mass.-based Cape Medical Supply, has advocated for HME at both the state and regional level, building strong relationships throughout New England, as well as Capitol Hill.

    Sheehan has also served in several leadership roles with the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England and has presented at numerous conferences and conventions.

    Missy Cross was the recipient of the inaugural award, created in 2016 when AAHomecare renamed its Homecare Champion Award to honor The VGM Group’s Van G. Miller, who died unexpectedly in 2015.

    ALJ wait time nears three years

    WASHINGTON – The average wait time to get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is 1,082 days, a 41-day increase from earlier this year and a 205-day increase since last year, according to AAHomecare. The overturn rate at the ALJ is 28.3%. The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals recently said it will no longer publish detailed workload information showing the breakdown of the number and type of appeals at the ALJ; however, it has offered to share DMEPOS-specific data with AAHomecare.

    Hargan named acting secretary at HHS

    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has named Eric Hargan as acting secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. Last week, Hargan was confirmed 57-38 to fill the No. 2 position at HHS. Hargan will fill the post vacated by Tom Price, who resigned in the wake of criticism of his frequent use of costly charter flights to travel to government engagements. Hargan, a former attorney, served at HHS during the Bush administration in various roles, including deputy general counsel, principal associate deputy secretary and acting deputy secretary. He was also was part of Trump’s HHS transition team.

    MED partners with HealthCall

    LUBBOCK, Texas – The MED Group, a Managed Health Care Associates company, has formed a strategic partnership with HealthCall, a Crown Point, Ind.-based medical communications company and the first provider of patented Automated Patient Response solutions. With the partnership in place, MED’s Clinical Pathways Program, or MCPP, will now provide access to the HealthCall technology platform, enabling its members to deliver a continuum of care through services and software for use in post-discharge and chronic care management, as well as automated patient response. "We believe The MED Group and HealthCall's partnership realizes a new and exciting chronic care opportunity,” said Ed Izbicki, Jr., senior vice president, Alternate Site Division, MHA.“By closing a vital gap in the transition of patients from hospital to home, the partnership enables MED members to provide optimum patient care, and stay competitive.”

    Lawsuit charges Cigna with applying excessive co-pays

    BLOOMFIELD, Conn. – Cigna allegedly developed and directed a fraudulent billing scheme that required benefit managers like CareCentrix to charge patients excessive co-pays, co-insurance or deductible payments for home care, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Connecticut on Oct. 6. The lawsuit was filed by a plan participant who alleges he paid almost 350% more than he should have for a disposable filter to treat sleep apnea, Bloomberg reports. The participant bought the filter from an authorized CareCentrix provider and was charged a $25.68 deductible, despite a contract to provide the filter for $7.50, according to Bloomberg. The difference—$18.18—was allegedly pocketed by Cigna, Bloomberg reports. The lawsuit charges Cigna with violating the contract and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as breaching its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The patient seeks class treatment for thousands of other patients across the country.

    Bill seeks to strengthen protections for diabetes patients

    WASHINGTON – Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., have introduced a bill to strengthen the patient protections that are part of Medicare’s national mail-order program for diabetes testing supplies. The bill, the “Diabetes Supplies Act of 2017,” would reinforce existing protections that ensure beneficiaries are able to continue accessing familiar supplies through the program. It would also establish new surveillance programs and requirements for mail-order suppliers to better guard consumer access. “We want to ensure seniors can access the life-saving supplies and technologies that work best for them,” Warner said. “This will allow Medicare to continue employing innovative, cost-saving payment models, while also guaranteeing patients’ access to necessary medical supplies.” The bill is in response to reports that a “50 Percent Rule” requiring suppliers to make available at least 50% of all types of diabetes supplies has been inadequate in protecting beneficiary choice.

    NSM reaches statewide service in Texas

    NASHVILLE – National Seating & Mobility has expanded its presence in West Texas with its acquisition of Mobility Unlimited. NSM will assume operations of Mobility Unlimited’s locations in Midland and Abilene, rounding out its statewide service in Texas. “This acquisition positions NSM to serve clients across Texas,” said Bill Mixon, CEO. Three ATPs (Bill Cavender, Steven Neie and Korey Davis), one RTS and a general manager (James Leddy) will transition to the NSM team to serve clients from these branches. NSM also has locations in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Beaumont and McAllen.

    German court sides with ResMed

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed says that a Munich District Court has decided that its AirSense 10 and AirCurve 10 CPAP devices and its Lumis ventilators, along with their humidifiers, do not infringe a Fisher & Paykel short-term patent, StreetInsider reports. Despite the decision, ResMed plans to continue its challenge of the validity of F&P’s patent before the German Patent and Trademark Office. ResMed says, to date, no court has found that its products infringe F&P patents in any of the three cases brought by F&P against ResMed in Germany. ResMed says the same German court in September, however, found that F&P’s Simplus, Eson and Eson 2 masks infringe ResMed patents. The court also stayed proceedings, pending the outcome of invalidation proceedings. ResMed says it is now defending its own patents in the European Patent Office.

    Convaid sponsors documentary

    TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid R82 is the official sponsor of “Roll With Me,” a documentary that premiers this weekend at the 18th annual Woodstock Film Festival. The film tracks Gabriel Cordell’s 3,100-mile journey across 13 states in 100 days in an unmodified wheelchair. It was chosen for the festival from more than 2,000 entrants from around the globe.

    Vendor short takes: Golden Technologies, Mediware

    Old Forge, Pa.-based Golden Technologies has launched a new scooter accessory: a battery docking station. The station is portable and charges the interlocking U1 batteries of the Buzzaround EX scooter models. The company says the station offers a convenient way of keeping a set of charged batteries on-hand, particularly when visiting family and friends, or when vacationing…Lenexa, Kan.-based Mediware Information Systems has signed on CSI Pharmacy for its CareTend cloud-based software. The national specialty and home infusion pharmacy believes the software will help take it to the next level. “We chose the cloud-based version of CareTend due to improved access at multiple locations and for team members who work remotely,” said James Sheets, CSI Pharmacy CEO. “We also felt it offered an advantage to our nurses in the field for following care plans and improving documentation and, ultimately, patient outcomes.”


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    10/19/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are urging providers to gather as many original co-sponsors as they can for a bill expected to drop in November that would provide relief for non-bid areas.

    Last week, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., released draft language for the bill, which would roll back a portion of the reimbursement cuts that went into effect in non-bid areas in 2016 and address a “double dip” cut to oxygen reimbursement. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, has signed on to be the Democratic lead on the bill.

    “This would allow HME suppliers to continue to serve these communities, giving seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals with chronic conditions the ability to remain in their homes and lessen the need for hospital stays and other costly clinical interventions,” AAHomecare states as a suggested talking point that providers can use with their legislators.

    AAHomecare has made several resources available to help providers make their case, including position briefs on rural relief and oxygen, its recent patient access survey, and its online Grassroots Action Center.


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    10/20/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are urging providers to gather as many original co-sponsors as they can for a bill expected to drop in November that would provide relief for non-bid areas.

    Last week, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., released draft language for the bill, which would roll back a portion of the reimbursement cuts that went into effect in non-bid areas in 2016 and address a “double dip” cut to oxygen reimbursement. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, has signed on to be the Democratic lead on the bill.

    “This would allow HME suppliers to continue to serve these communities, giving seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals with chronic conditions the ability to remain in their homes and lessen the need for hospital stays and other costly clinical interventions,” AAHomecare states as a suggested talking point that providers can use with their legislators.

    AAHomecare has made several resources available to help providers make their case, including position briefs on rural relief and oxygen, its recent patient access survey, and its online Grassroots Action Center.

    Lobbying: Peaks and Plains Medical, Aeroflow

    More than 20 people representing HME companies and organizations from across the Pacific Northwest and Big Sky regions attended an event held at Peaks and Plains Medical in Spokane Valley, Wash., where the guest of honor was Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., according to VGM. McMorris Rodgers plans to introduce a bill in early November that would provide relief from the competitive bidding program in non-bid areas. She has also recently spearheaded a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, asking them to clear an interim final rule under their review that would provide relief from the bid program. McMorris Rodgers stayed at the event for nearly an hour, VGM says…Aeroflow Healthcare met with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., to discuss topics related to health care and their impact on the state. Aeroflow’s executive team and the company’s Mom and Baby division met with Meadows to continue previous discussions about the importance of small businesses and the role of breastfeeding in parenting. Meadows briefed Aeroflow on the current state of health care in Congress, including the recent healthcare-related executive order from President Donald Trump.

    AASM stakes a claim to home sleep testing

    DARIEN, Ill. – Only a physician can diagnose medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea and primary snoring, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine states in a new position paper on home sleep apnea testing.

    The AASM also states that the need for, and appropriateness of, an HSAT must be based on the patient’s medical history and a face-to-face examination by a physician, either in person or via telemedicine.

    “A home sleep apnea test provides valuable information for the diagnostic assessment of certain patients with suspected obstructive sleep apnea,” said AASM President Dr. Ilene Rosen. “However, the test is only one component of a comprehensive sleep evaluation, and it is important for a board-certified sleep medicine physician to be involved in reviewing and interpreting the raw data from the device.”

    The AASM published the position paper in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

    Additionally, the AASM stated:

    ·      An HSAT is a medical assessment that must be ordered by a physician to diagnose OSA or evaluate treatment efficacy.

    ·      An HSAT should not be used for general screening of asymptomatic populations.

    ·      Diagnosis, assessment of treatment efficacy, and treatment decisions must not be based solely on automatically scored HSAT data, which could lead to sub-optimal care that jeopardizes patient health and safety.

    ·      The raw data from the HSAT device must be reviewed and interpreted by a physician who is either board-certified in sleep medicine or overseen by a board-certified sleep medicine physician.

    DMEPOS appeals pile up

    WASHINGTON – DMEPOS appeals at the Administrative Law Judge level make up about 49% of total appeals in FY 2017, consistent with the two previous years, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare. As of August 2017, the Office of Medicare Hearings & Appeals had 591,962 total appeals pending—an increase of 300% since 2016. The number of DMEPOS appeals as of Oct. 12 is 291,047.

    Pediatric Home Care sells to nat’l player

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Pediatric Home Care, which started as a home infusion pharmacy then added private-duty nursing services, has sold to Atlanta-based Aveanna Healthcare, according to the Spokesman-Review. PHC, founded by Michael Glockling, a doctor of pharmacy, and Ruth Seignemartin, a registered nurse, has provided home care for children in Eastern Washington since 1990. Aveanna Healthcare bills itself as the largest pediatric home healthcare company in the country, with 180 locations in 23 states and 26,000 caregivers. Aveanna Healthcare comprises Epic Health Services and PSA Healthcare.

    MAMES conference packs crowd

    WELCH, Minn. – This year’s fall conference of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services & Supplies saw a 40% spike in attendance compared to last year’s, the state association reports. The 2017 MAMES Fall Excellence in HME Conference, which concluded Oct. 6, also saw a perfect 4.0 score from attendees. “While the addition of MAMES members (from Wisconsin) accounted for almost half of the increase in attendance, we were still up over 20%,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director of MAMES, which took in the Wisconsin HME state association earlier this year. This year’s conference, sponsored by 27 companies, featured new educational programs for retail, reimbursement and rehab, as well as a “Speed Dating Round Table.” The conference also hosted inspirational speakers like Matthew Sanford of Mind Body Solutions.

    Pride, Quantum take on mentor role

    EXETER, Pa. – Pride Mobility Products and Quantum Rehab offered about 20 students with disabilities the opportunity to be mentored by career professionals in various fields during Disability Mentoring Day on Oct. 11. “We are privileged to have the opportunity to showcase the amazing work we do at Pride and Quantum Rehab, while educating the students, teachers and aides about the many career opportunities available to individuals with disabilities,” said Denise Truesdale, vice president of human resources. “It was a fun-filled day that allowed us to make a difference in people’s lives.” This is the eighth year Pride and Quantum have participated in the event, but it was the first year they have held it at their Duryea facility, where students were able to tour the production area and visit an expanded test lab. Students had the opportunity to learn typical job responsibilities, and the necessary knowledge and skills needed for a specific vocation. Careers in research and development, sales, technical service, and production were highlighted.

    Digest finds diversity among indie community pharmacies

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Independent community pharmacies continue to strengthen and expand their scope of services, despite lower reimbursements for dispensing prescription drugs, according to the 2017 NCPA Digest, unveiled at the association’s annual convention, Oct. 14-18. The digest, in its eighth year, found indie community pharmacies offer a variety of services: 86% offer medication therapy management; 74% provide immunizations; and 52% furnish durable medical goods. “As the 2017 NCPA Digest indicates, in the evolving health care landscape, pharmacists will continue to offer more clinical services to serve their patients,” said Steve Lawrence, senior vice president of Retail Independent Sales at Cardinal Health, the digest’s sponsor. “We’ll see independent pharmacies leading the way in offering the services and care patients need to stay adherent to their medications and remain healthy.” The digest also found that the number of indie community pharmacies is down slightly from last year (22,041 vs. 22,160), that they represent 36% of the retail pharmacy marketplace and that 81% of them serve populations of 50,000 or less.

    NRRTS joins ITEM Coalition

    LUBBOCK, Texas – NRRTS has become a member of the ITEM Coalition, says Executive Director Weesie Walker. ITEM Coalition members include a diverse set of national disability organizations, aging organizations, consumer groups, voluntary health associations, and nonprofit provider associations. Membership is open to all consumer and nonprofit provider organizations without any requirement to contribute financially. NRRTS also recently participated in the United Spinal Association’s Roll on Capitol Hill, an annual advocacy and lobbying event. “We’re trying to draw together all the different organizations,” said Walker. “That’s something the board feels really strong about.”

    Brightree launches ‘one solution’ for resupply

    ATLANTA – Brightree has launched Brightree ConnectPRO, a CPAP resupply management program that combines Brightree’s technology, services and data analytics into one solution to manage and retain patients. Brightree ConnectPRO includes: Brightree Connect patient contact management software; Performance Concierge Services; Revenue Cycle Management Resupply Intake Services, which includes processing all paperwork and verification of benefits; AllCall Connect; and data analytics. “We have witnessed a dramatic shift in CPAP resupply, wherein providers must do more with less,” said Gary Long, Brightree’s chief business development officer. “Too many compliant CPAP patients are never enrolled in their provider’s resupply program, and unfortunately many who are enrolled do not stay in the program very long.”

    DeRoyal debuts Continuum customer experience

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – DeRoyal Industries has opened a Continuum real-time inventory and charge-capture system customer experience. Located on the company’s campus headquarters in Powell, Tenn., the facility will showcase Continuum’s automated supply management and continuity of care features in a simulated operating room suite, inventory storage room and multiple demo stations. “Our Continuum platform helps clinicians bridge the gap between the acute care and post-acute care supply chain,” said CEO Brian DeBusk. “It also automates many of the supply chain functions so that clinicians can remain completely focused on their patients, while maintaining a transparency and accountability for every single item used in the clinical setting.” The 33,000-square foot facility also provides offices to engineers, product specialists, and sales and marketing professionals. DeRoyal manufactures surgical devices, orthopedic supports and braces, and wound care dressings.

    Apacheta, Brightree expand partnership

    MEDIA, Pa. – Brightree users can now use the Brightree Patient Collections app, GetPaidHME, with Apacheta software, the two companies have announced. The integration allows delivery techs to process payments using a major credit card, e-check or FSA/HSA card. “Today, collecting payments at the point of service is inefficient due to a patchwork of third-party mobile applications or worse paper-based processes not aligned for efficient and effective transactions,” said Gregg Timmons, CEO of Apacheta. “Now with the Brightree GetPaidHME app integration, customers can seamlessly collect payments at the time of delivery, streamlining the collections process.” Apacheta and Brightree began their relationship in June 2014, offering providers a mobile delivery management solution that integrated with Brightree’s platforms. The ability to use the GetPaidHME app, which runs on both Apple and Android devices, with Apacheta software is an expansion of that partnership.

    People news: Lynn Connelly, Robert Dean, Dan Meuser

    Lynn Connelly, RPh, owner of Medicine Mart Pharmacy in Chapin, S.C., has been named the National Community Pharmacists Association 2017 Willard B. Simmons Independent Pharmacist of the Year. Connelly received the award, sponsored by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, during the Opening General Session of the NCPA 2017 Annual Convention, Oct. 14-18. The award recognizes an independent pharmacy for exemplary leadership and commitment to independent pharmacy and his or her community. The NCPA lauded Connelly for his work in South Carolina: helping to pass a prescription drug monitoring program, establishing one of the highest state dispensing fees in the country, bringing more transparency to generic prescription drug reimbursements, creating an “any willing provider” provision, producing fairer pharmacy audits and opening up immunizations to pharmacies…Robert Dean has been named vice president and general manager of Brightree’s Home Health & Hospice Division. He will be responsible for expanding the company’s product offerings, customer base and market position for its EMR solution. Previously, Dean was vice president and general manager of McKesson’s Extended Care Solutions Group, where he implemented several new sales and operational initiatives that improved products and customer satisfaction…Dan Meuser, who used to run Pride Mobility Products with his brother Scott Meuser, has announced that he is a Republican candidate running to represent Pennsylvania’s 11th congressional district. Previously, Dan Meuser served as secretary of revenue for the state under Gov. Tom Corbett


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    10/24/2017
    HME News Staff

    ATLANTA – Barbara Smith, CEO of Healthline Medical Equipment in Wichita Falls, Texas, was named the 2017 HME Woman of the Year at Medtrade this morning.

    Smith has worked at Healthline for 25 years and has been instrumental in the company growing from three locations, to 12 locations and 196 employees, according to a press release from VGM Group, which created the award.

    “This is such a huge honor and is very, very overwhelming,” she said. “There are so many women out there doing great things in our industry, and it’s an honor just to be nominated.”

    The finalists for the award were Smith; Lelia Wilkerson, director, Heritage Medical Equipment & Supplies; Rita Stanley, vice president of government relations, Sunrise Medical; and Maxine Paul, director of sales and operations, NuMotion, formerly owner of Academy Medical Equipment, Inc.

    Over the years, Smith has been a powerful advocate for the HME industry on both a state and national level, VGM says. She was recently named president of the newly formed state association, TX MEP, which she helped to create.

    “Barbara is a leader,” said Mike Mallaro, CEO of VGM. “She has earned the respect and admiration of people in her company, the referral sources and patients she and her company serve and her competitors and peers across the industry. She exemplifies the dedication and innovation required to evolve her business.”

    The four finalists were selected from a pool of 38 nominees by an honorary committee that included last year’s winner, Dr. Kirsten Davin, owner and president of Precision Seating Solutions.


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    10/25/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has extended the deadline for collecting original co-sponsors for draft legislation that would provide relief from competitive bidding in non-bid areas until the end of this week, according to AAHomecare.

    Monday, Oct. 23, was the original deadline for collecting original co-sponsors.

    As of Wednesday, Oct. 25, 16 representatives had signed on to be original co-sponsors of the legislation, which McMorris Rodgers expects to introduce the first week of November with Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa.

    The legislation would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019. Per the legislation, reimbursement for that period would be based on reimbursement on Jan. 1, 2016. It would also address a “double-dip” reimbursement cut to oxygen therapy.

    McMorris Rodgers was also the driving force behind a recent letter signed by 104 representatives asking the Office of Management and Budget to clear an interim final rule that would provide relief from the bid program in non-bid areas.


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    10/27/2017
    Theresa Flaherty

    ATLANTA – The mood at Medtrade 2017 was palpably up, say show organizers.

    While attendance was down slightly, it was in line with projections and it was to be expected now that competitive bidding has forced about 40% of providers to close their doors, says Kevin Gaffney, group show director.

    “(The mood) was significantly better than last year, to the point where I can feel it,” he said. “There’s progress being made (on a number of industry issues) and good things are happening.”

    This year’s Medtrade, held Oct. 23-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, marked a new era for the HME industry’s largest trade show, with a shorter schedule of three vs. four days, though expo hours were extended to 5 p.m. each day, and the overall number of conference sessions remained steady at about 60.

    Reconnections and introductions

    Judi Taylor, the event planning manager for longtime exhibitor DJO Global Brands, feels it’s important to have a presence at Medtrade.

    “The show was pretty good,” she said. “We will probably pick up a few new customers for diabetic shoes and braces, but it’s generally our existing customers that we see here.”

    Amber Watt, the owner of exhibitor Breathe Technologies, said floor traffic was a bit slow, but overall, she was pleased.

    “People stopping by our booth are definitely wanting to switch products,” she said. “I am more confident with the leads I’m getting this year.”

    A ‘refreshing’ experience

    Gaffney estimates that a large majority of attendees were focused on learning about the latest and greatest products that exhibitors like DJO and Breathe have to offer. Count provider Meir Tsinman among them.

    “They definitely have the right, popular brands at the show,” said Tsinman, president of online provider medicalsupplydepot.com. “A commode is a commode, but something like a rollator, something that is refreshing, that is what I am looking for.”

    Closing time

    To entice attendees to stick around until 5 p.m. on the show’s final day, a reception was held on the show floor, with four open bars and two food buffets. A cash prize drawing for $5,000 was also held at 4:45 p.m. Provider Sandra Chisolm from Heritage Home Medical in Wichita Falls, Texas, was the big winner.

    “I’m really…good,” said the dazed Chisolm, holding a large check.

    Will the change stick?

    It’s too early to say whether next year’s Medtrade, slated for Oct. 15-17 at the GWCC in Atlanta, will have the same schedule, or something entirely different, show organizers say.

    “We will continue to look at the schedule today—and in the future,” Gaffney said. “The final day could be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 4 p.m.”


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    10/27/2017
    Liz Beaulieu

    ATLANTA – HME provider Barbara Smith says she’s usually the one giving out awards, not receiving them, so when she was named the 2017 HME Woman of the Year at Medtrade last week, she was, needless to say, surprised.

    “I had no expectation of winning,” said Smith, the CEO of Healthline Medical Equipment in Wichita Falls, Texas, where, over the past 25 years, she has worked her way up from sales rep to partner. “Being among the four finalists was incredible enough for me.”

    Here’s what Smith, also recently named president of TX MEP, a new state HME association, had to say about what has been the lonely job of being a woman in the male-dominated HME industry and why not being involved in advocacy efforts is not an option.

    HME News:When you accepted your award at Medtrade, you said there were few women at the event years ago, but that has changed.

    Barbara Smith:It used to be, you’d walk into a room and there were only a few women. It wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable place to be, but you needed to be there. The education I’ve gotten through Medtrade and VGM has been invaluable. A big part of that has been meeting and learning from my peers, and over the years, a lot of those peers have become women. There are a lot of women I admire in this industry; a lot of them could have won this award.

    HME:A big reason you won this award is your ability to grow an HME business, despite competitive bidding, audits and other industry difficulties. Healthline has grown from three to 12 locations under your leadership.

    Smith:We won contracts for oxygen and beds in the most recent Round 1 and we can’t wait for those contracts to end. We’ve decided to pull back on those, and focus on what we’re really good at and that is the more clinical aspects of the business. We have an awesome team of RTs and ATPs to focus on sleep therapy and home ventilation, and complex rehab. We will do other things, but we’ve steered away from trying to be a jack-of-all-trades.

    HME:What has been your leadership style in making Healthline’s growth possible?

    Smith:I’ve always thought, if you take care of people, including your employees, business will come. We’ve invested a lot in our employees; we look at them as family. That’s probably been the hardest part of now having 200 employees—we can’t know them as personally as we used to. But we encourage our managers to adopt that approach. We have so many employees that have been with us for 10, 20 years. I was just looking at the roster the other day, and it’s awesome to see that.

    HME:Another reason you won this award is your advocacy on a state and national level. With time and money in short supply, why is this non-negotiable?

    Smith:Because there are outside forces, whether it’s the government or private payers, that control our business. We’re starting a new state association in Texas with a strong group of providers. We recently banded together on the Superior HealthPlan-Medline contract. I look forward to getting the association off the ground and to Texas getting a voice again. The last couple of times I attended (AAHomecare’s fly-in), it was me and two other providers. Texas is a large state with a lot of DMEs. We should be part of the movement to protect our industry.


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    10/27/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Draft legislation that would provide relief from competitive bidding in non-bid areas had two sponsors and 30 original co-sponsors at press time on Friday.

    Monday, Oct. 23, was the original deadline for collecting original co-sponsors.

    As of press time Oct. 27, 32 representatives had signed on to be original co-sponsors of the legislation, which McMorris Rodgers expects to introduce the first week of November with Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa.

    The legislation would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019. Per the legislation, reimbursement for that period would be based on reimbursement on Jan. 1, 2016. It would also address a “double-dip” reimbursement cut to oxygen therapy.

    McMorris Rodgers was also the driving force behind a recent letter signed by 104 representatives asking the Office of Management and Budget to clear an interim final rule that would provide relief from the bid program in non-bid areas.

    Invacare looks to hire again

    ELYRIA, Ohio – After a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration forced Invacare to reduce its workforce a number of times in the past few years, the company is ready to hire again.

    Invacare is hosting a job fair today at its corporate headquarters, with an eye toward hiring workers skilled in computer numerical control, welding, assembly, sewing and machine operation, according to The Chronicle Telegram.

    Invacare’s Lara Mahoney told the local newspaper that the company is looking to hire in response to an increase in business in the wake of the FDA in July clearing it to resume full operations at its headquarters and Taylor Street manufacturing facility.

    “Now that we are able to sell freely from the Taylor Street power wheelchair facility, we are starting to see more production in the plant,” she told The Chronicle Telegram. “We are currently looking to fill 15 to 20 positions, and we’ll continually reassess our hiring needs.”

    The consent decree limited Invacare’s ability to make and sell products from its corporate headquarters and Taylor Street facility for nearly five years.

    Invacare’s most recent round of layoffs was in May, when it reduced its workforce by 50 associates. Since 2014, the company has reduced its workforce by a total of about 370 associates.

    Medtrade attendees pick top new products

    ATLANTA – Medtrade attendees picked the Owlet Smart Sock 2 with Connected Care from Owlet Baby Care as the winner of the New Product Pavilion Provider’s Choice Gold Award. The sock tracks a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels and the Connected Care app allows parents to analyze mode detailed information. The Owlet Smart Sock 2 also took first place in Medtrade’s Innovative HME Retail Product Awards. The winner of the silver award: Stability Gliders, a walker accessory, from Stabilized Steps. The gliders attach to the bottom of walkers, allowing them to be stable on various terrains. The gliders took third place in the retail awards. The winner of the bronze award: CAIREview powered by SynsorMed, a new telehealth solution app from CAIRE that allows providers to track the location of their assets, trouble shoot alarm codes, monitor oxygen flow rates and avoid costly after-hours visits.

    Noridian clarifies LCD for surgical dressings

    WASHINGTON – Noridian has made several clarifications related to the local coverage determination for surgical dressings, including that the three types of wounds covered are independent of each other, AAHomecare reports. Noridian also clarified that collagen dressings can be used for a maximum of seven days and can be changed daily depending on the wound; hydrogel dressing is covered when the wound is not a pressure ulcer; and “the LCD’s characterization of a wound as ‘full thickness’ or ‘partial thickness’ applies for purposes of coverage, rather than the NPUAP wound staging definitions that apply only to pressure injuries.” Last month, the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders had requested clarifications to the LCD, as it has caused confusion for suppliers, physicians and manufacturers. AAHomecare had also submitted comments on the LCD in support of its members who provide wound care.

    VGM rebrands home accessibility division

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has rebranded Accessible Home Improvement of America, known as AHIA, to VGM Live at Home. VGM made the decision after realizing that the home safety market is bigger than just accessibility products, says Jim Greatorex, vice president of VGM Live at Home. “The re-brand lets us broaden our reach so we can help members diversify into all businesses or components that help people live at home safely and independently, regardless of their mobility level,” he said. In addition to a new name, VGM Live at Home is updating its website and enhancing its “Live at Home Pro” mobile home assessment app. The updated website, www.accesshomeamerica.com, is expected to debut in early 2018.

    Graham-Field unites facilities

    ATLANTA – GF Health Products is in the process of building a new global headquarters. The planned facility will unite the company’s headquarters, customer showroom and regional distribution center, and allow it to increase its manufacturing capacity and better take advantage of the strong talent in the metro Atlanta area. “The decision to expand our presence in Atlanta was the next step in our growth strategy,” said Ken Spett, president and CEO. “As the constriction process moves forward, we will maintain our focus on our customers, as well as continually innovate products and processes.” Graham-Field expects to complete construction of the facility in February.

    Mediware integrates with Medical Specialties Distributors

    LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems has entered into an agreement with Medical Specialties Distributors, a supply chain solutions provider, as an integrated solution provider or ISP. Integration of Mediware’s CareTend enterprise software with MSD expands access to real-time pricing and inventory, drop shipments and bulk supply orders, and automated delivery confirmations. “We are eager for our CareTend customers to benefit from the software integration so they can eliminate manual entry of purchasing and let the software do the hard work for them,” said Paul O’Toole, vice president and general manager of the Home Care Solutions division at Mediware. CareTend provides reporting, workflow and inventory management capabilities to HME and home infusion providers.

    RESNA seeks course proposals

    ARLINGTON, Va. – The deadline for RESNA’s Call for Proposals for its 2018 conference, slated for July 11-15 at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, Va., is fast approaching. This year’s theme: #ingenuityATwork, representing “the focus of assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering’s growing innovation and impact to make the world more accessible,” the organization says. The deadline for proposals is Nov. 1. RESNA will select proposals by Jan. 31, 2018, and publish the conference schedule in March 2018. New to the conference this year: The Symposia, group presentations with content experts and audience interaction.

    O&P group names Freedom Award winners

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The Orthotic Prosthetic Group of America has honored 41 O&P providers with its annual Freedom Award for “exceptional standards of care” for military personnel. “The award provides visible recognition to the honorees that they can proudly display in their patient care facilities,” said Todd Eagen, president of OPGA, a member service organization of independently owned O&P facilities. “It helps highlight their continued dedication to the distinguished veterans they treat and to the stars and stripes.” Among the award winners were: A Step Ahead Pedorthics & Orthotics in Pensacola, Fla.; Abilities Unlimited in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Allegheny Orthotics and Prosthetics in Altoona, Pa.; Body In Motion Sports & Orthopaedics in Toms River, N.J.; Bremer Prosthetics and Orthotics in Jacksonville, Fla.; Carolina Prosthetics and Orthotics in Greenwood, N.C.; Cayuga Orthotics and Prosthetics in Rochester, N.Y.; Central Brace & Limb Co. in Indianapolis; Clark & Associates in Waterloo, Iowa; and Decker Integrated Orthotics and Prosthetics in Overland Park, Kan.

    Numotion’s on a mission

    BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Nine Numotion employees and a manufacturer representative traveled to Guatemala Oct 9-13 to deliver 100 wheelchairs and provide adjustments on an additional 20 chairs. This is the third year that the group, led by Numotion ATP Ryan Martin, has made the trip, which is coordinated by Bethel Ministries, an inter-denominational, nonprofit “wheelchair ministry” that provides mobility to the disabled in the country. In all, they have delivered about 450 wheelchairs to those in need. In addition to wheelchairs, this year they also delivered urological supplies.

    Manufacturers in the news: Responsive Respiratory, ResMed

    St. Louis-based Responsive Respiratory has added a new line of resuscitator kits and accessories to its product portfolio. The kits are available with and without portable oxygen cylinders, in both demand valve and manual resuscitation bag setups. Emergency oxygen solutions may also be purchased in combination with single cylinder carts and lightweight, durable first responder bags. The kits join RRI’s offering of EMS, hospital and homecare regulators, and its full line of ambulatory oxygen equipment and accessories…San Diego-based ResMed has released its AirFit N20 Classic nasal mask in Europe. The mask, which features an adaptive frame that follows a patient’s movements while they sleep to maintain an effective seal, is now available in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. “Clinicians can easily switch an AirFit N20 wearer between two frames, while keeping the same cushion, to determine which one will best help them stay on therapy and sleep better,” said Vincent Sauve, marketing vice president of ResMed’s sleep business.

    Short takes: Invacare, Miller Prosthetics

    Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare has launched its Platinum Mobile Oxygen Concentrator with new connectivity. A connected POC, app and provider portal create a platform to improve asset utilization and control costs, the company says. “This integrative system gives providers visibility to POC usage and other performance data to help reduce total cost of ownership and optimize their fleet,” said Ed Armstrong, vice president, post-acute care product and channel marketing…Belpre, Ohio-based Miller Prosthetics & Orthotics has added Sean Greer to its team as a certified licensed orthotist. Greer is returning to his roots in the Mid-Ohio Valley, after practicing orthotics in Brooksville, Fla., Morgantown, W.Va., Hickory, N.C., and Pittsburgh.  Miller Prosthetics & Orthotics also has a location in Parkersburg, W.Va.


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    10/31/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – A draft bill that would provide relief from competitive bidding in non-bid areas will have 49 original co-sponsors when it is introduced, according to AAHomecare and VGM Group.

    “Having a large number of original co-sponsors shows other members of Congress the strength and importance of the bill,” VGM stated in a bulletin to members on Tuesday.

    Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and David Loebsack, D-Iowa, plan to introduce in the first week of November, stakeholders say.

    VGM reports that Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, which were heavily impacted by the national roll out of competitive bidding in 2016, saw all of their representatives sign on as original co-sponsors of the bill.

    The bill would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019, as well as address a “double-dip” reimbursement cut to oxygen therapy.

    On a separate but related front, McMorris Rodgers, along with more than 100 other representatives, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget in late September, asking the agency to clear an interim final rule that would provide relief from the bid program.


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  • 11/03/17--16:31: Bid relief bill drops
  • Industry races to rack up co-sponsors
    11/02/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – It’s official: A bill that would provide relief from competitive bidding in non-bid areas has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., introduced H.R. 4229, the Protecting Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment Access Act, aka the Protecting HOME Access Act, on Thursday afternoon with 53 original co-sponsors, according to AAHomecare.

    “The strong original co-sponsor support for this legislation demonstrates Congress’ appreciation of the urgent need to get back to a sustainable reimbursement schedule for suppliers serving patients in rural communities,” said Tom Ryan, president & CEO of the association.

    The bill would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019, as well as address a “double-dip” reimbursement cut to oxygen therapy.

    AAHomecare urges providers to contact their representatives to co-sponsor the bill now, with little time left in the year.

    “There’s no getting around the fact there are a lot of other issues competing for attention on Capitol Hill as we enter the last two months of the year,” Ryan said. “It’s critical that the HME community makes its voice heard in support of this bill over the next few weeks to build support for this bill.”

    A good talking point for providers: a recent survey of Medicare beneficiaries, discharge planners and providers that found the competitive bidding program has significantly reduced access to HME.

    CMS rolled out its competitive bidding program nationwide in two rounds on Jan. 1, 2016, and July 1, 2016. The second round was retroactively delayed to Jan. 1, 2017, per a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act.


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    11/03/2017
    HME News Staff

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services has expanded its Home Modification Accessibility Committee to include companies nationwide. MAMES says expanding HMAC will help to develop a consistent voice to address issues in the home accessibility market on a national and state level. A key priority for the newly expanded committee: moving H.R. 1780, the Senior Housing Act, forward. “It’s been nearly a year since H.R. 1780 was introduced into Congress and with a unified voice, through HMAC, our industry can lead the way in getting this monumental bill passed,” said Jim Greatorex, vice president of VGM Live at Home and chairman of HMAC. The Senior Housing Act wouldprovide incentives to individuals 60 years of age and older to “age in place” by providing a $30,000 tax credit for home modifications like the widening of doorways and the installation of ramps, handrails, grab bars and non-slip flooring. On a state-by-state level, HMAC will focus on licensing issues. “HMAC will help us connect with our members so we can help address these challenges to change laws or provide other solutions so legitimate companies have the ability to provide their services to help people live independently,” Greatorex said. 

    Invacare CFO resigns

    ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare CFO Robert Gudbranson will resign Nov. 26. Kathleen Leneghan, vice president and corporate controller, will serve as interim CFO while a search is underway for a new CFO. “On behalf of everyone at Invacare and our board of directors, I want to thank Rob for his financial leadership and many contributions during his tenure as CFO,” said Matthew Monaghan, chairman, president and CEO. “We wish him success in his new endeavor.” Gudbranson, who also served as interim CEO from July 2014 to March 2015, is leaving the company to pursue a new opportunity, according to a press release.

    Insulet sees revenues increase across the board

    BILLERICA, Mass. – Insulet Corp. reported revenues of $121.8 million for the third quarter of 2017, representing year-over-year growth of 28%. Net loss was 2.2 million. For the Omnipod, revenues in the U.S. were $70.1 million for the quarter, a 17% increase, and, internationally, $32.5 million, a 70% increase. Revenue from drug delivery was $19.2 million, a 19% increase. “We achieved strong third quarter results across all of our businesses, particularly in our international business,” said Patrick Sullivan, chairman and CEO. “In addition to our 28% revenue growth, we achieved a 180-basis point improvement in gross margin. We are well on our way to our fiscal 2021 targets of $1 billion in revenue and approaching 70% gross margin.” 

    Ki Mobility inks distribution deal with Leckey

    STEVENS POINT, Wis., and LISBURN, U.K. – Ki Mobility, a manufacturer of pediatric and adult seating and mobility products, will be the exclusive distributor of Leckey products in North America. Leckey’s most popular products include the Squiggle Seat & Stander, Mygo Seat & Stander, PAL classroom seat, Everyday Activity Seat and Advance Bath Chair. “The products we will be distributing complement our innovative pediatric line and will allow us to provide the ATP with even more pediatric choices” said Doug Munsey, president of Ki Mobility in a press release.

    Rehab Medical launches website with new focus

    INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical has launched a new website, rehabmedical.com, with a new focus on customer service, patient mobility, independence and well-being. The user-friendly site guides visitors through the health insurance process for complex rehab, and features informational resources. “Our everyday focus is to provide expertise and efficient, individualized attention to the many stakeholders that are involved in the arduous process of providing advanced medical equipment,” said Kevin Gearheart, president. “The newly rethought website provides enriched resources for our patients, their caregivers, and the medical professionals we work with on a daily basis.” Rehab Medical serves more than 12,000 patients a year in 12 states.

    VGM calls for Heartland speakers

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM is now accepting proposals for its 17th annual Heartland Conference, slated for June 19-21. Organizers are looking for presenters with expertise in a variety of topics, including business leadership and management, retail, sleep and respiratory, rehab, operations, sales and marketing, and regulatory. “Heartland’s robust education program is designed to ensure that attendees leave each session equipped with relevant and innovative strategies to evolve their businesses,” said Sarah Conger, director of events at VGM and chairwoman of the Heartland Conference. “Each year we search for dynamic speakers to add to our pool of talented presenters willing to share their content and best business practices to our guests.” Speaker proposals are due Nov. 22. Those interested should visit www.vgmheartland.com/speak to complete the online form, or contact Jill Blaser at jill.blaser@vgm.com or 855-755-6922.    

    Several factors affect CPAP compliance, researchers say

    GLENVIEW, Ill. – Hypertension is associated with poor CPAP compliance, say researchers in a recent article published in CHEST Journal. Other things that result in poor compliance, considered less than four hours of use per night: Mask leakage and atrial fibrillation, they say. “Our results may helps us identify the patients who are at higher risk of poor compliance,” they write. “Identification of such patients will help in targeting them with the appropriate interventions to improve their CPAP compliance.” Researchers based the article on a retrospective chart review to see which factors are associated with CPAP compliance.

    Option Care signs on to provide Radicava

    BANNOCKBURN, Ill. – Option Care Enterprises has partnered with the ALS Association to become a nationally contracted home infusion provider of Radicava, the first ALS treatment option approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Already, Option Care has started more than 100 patients with ALS on Radivaca. “Option Care applauds The ALS Association’s mission and recognizes their efforts in giving help and hope to those facing the disease,” said John Rademacher, CEO, Option Care. “We look forward to this new partnership with The ALS Association and the ability to be part of providing education, support and services to those living with the disease.” In addition, Option Care provides a nutrition support program and enteral therapy to ALS patients. The provider has a multidisciplinary team of more than 1,800 clinicians, including pharmacists, nurses and dieticians, to provide home infusion services for patients nearly across the country.

    Stealth Products launches video game for wheelchair users

    BURNET, Texas – Stealth Products has launched a video game that allows a pediatric wheelchair user to have fun while a parent or therapist conducts a driving assessment. “I’m a gamer myself and I started noticing the most popular games were not necessarily friendly to gamers with disabilities,” said Gabriel Romero, vice president of sales and marketing for Stealth Products, a manufacturer of head and body support/positioning products, joystick mounts, trays and seating. “We set out to develop a game for wheelchair users that could also be used as an assessment tool for clinicians.” i-Drive LOONZ, which is available on the Apple i-Tunes app store and works on the i-Drive 4.0, was designed with Trident Technologies, a software development company. Game play and assessment are also possible on a manual mobility base using an i-Drive 4.0 with battery pack.

    BOC showcases expanded office

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Board of Certification/Accreditation’s staff and board of directors showed off an expanded new office location to business partners and honored guests during an open house on Oct. 6. During the open house, BOC made dedications honoring BOC founder Dr. Donald O. Fedder, James “Jim” Newberry, and Debbie Stem Smith. After founding BOC, Fedder served as its first CEO from 1984 through 2006. A few months before he passed away in 2010, BOC dedicated a prior office expansion to Fedder. In the new location, BOC dedicated a suite with a focus on team collaboration the Dr. Donald Fedder Suite. Newberry, who passed away last year, is the namesake of the Jim Newberry Award for Extraordinary Service. Smith, a beloved staff member, also passed away last year.

    Nonprofit launches virtual DME expo

    NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – CureDuchenne has launched a new resource called the CureDuchenne Virtual Durable Medical Equipment Expo, according to Muscular Dystrophy News. The expo is an interactive online resource that allows caregivers and family members to access information about equipment from the comfort of their own homes. The website offers “exhibit halls” with information about products, as well as a chat room to help caregivers and family members navigate the challenges of dealing with different devices and equipment at various stages of the disease. The expo was developed with the help of funds from a 2016 STRIVE Award provided by PTC Therapeutics. The STRIVE program recognizes the role patient advocacy groups play in improving the lives of Duchenne patients and their caregivers. CureDuchenne is a nonprofit that started in 2003 to help save the lives of those with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.


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    11/09/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – A “Dear Colleague” letter asking representatives to sign on to H.R. 4229 is being circulated by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

    The pair introduced the bill with 53 original co-sponsors Nov. 2. It currently has 58 co-sponsors.

    H.R. 4229 would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019, as well as address a “double-dip” reimbursement cut to oxygen therapy. The original delay was passed per a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act.

    The letter states: This equipment cannot save lives if it isn’t made available to those who need it most, especially in rural communities where we know barriers to access healthcare already exist.

    A recent survey by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates and commissioned by AAHomecare, found that more than 60% of case managers saw an increase in the number of Medicare beneficiaries who have developed medical complications, received emergency care or were readmitted to a hospital due to issues related to obtaining proper and/or timely access to DME.

    Stakeholders are urging providers to reach out to their members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor the bill.

     


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    11/10/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – A “Dear Colleague” letter asking representatives to sign on to H.R. 4229 is being circulated by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

    The pair introduced the bill with 53 original co-sponsors Nov. 2. It currently has 58 co-sponsors.

    H.R. 4229 would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019, as well as address a “double-dip” reimbursement cut to oxygen therapy. The delay was passed per a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act.

    The letter states: This equipment cannot save lives if it isn’t made available to those who need it most, especially in rural communities where we know barriers to access healthcare already exist.

    A recent survey by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates and commissioned by AAHomecare, found that more than 60% of case managers saw an increase in the number of Medicare beneficiaries who have developed medical complications, received emergency care or were readmitted to a hospital due to issues related to obtaining proper and/or timely access to DME.

    AAHomecare releases rehab white paper

    WASHINGTON – AAHomecare’s Complex Rehab and Mobility Council has created a new white paper that clearly explains the difference between complex rehab technology and standard mobility products. The three-page paper describes the products, including photos of products and their accessories, as well as the clinical/personnel involvement required in each category. ‘Many outside the industry don’t understand the fundamental differences between the two categories,” said Nancy Froslie, CMR chair and manager of district store operations for Sanford HealthCare Accessories.

    CMS offers appeals settlement

    WASHINGTON – CMS recently announced a low volume appeals settlement for Part A and Part B appeals at the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeal and the Medical appeals Council. The option is limited to appellants with less than 500 appeals and each individual appeal must total $9,000 or less. The settlement is for 62% of the allowed amount minus the copay, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare. As of August 2017, the Office of Medicare Hearings & Appeals had 591,962 total appeals pending—an increase of 300% since 2016. The number of DMEPOS appeals as of Oct. 12 is 291,047.

    CMS to update definitions for shoe inserts

    WASHINGTON – CMS has proposed revising the definitions of custom fabricated and therapeutic inserts in Appendix C of the DMEPOS Quality Standards to account for new technology. Historically, the best way to fit an individual with diabetes for inserts was to create a physical model of their foot using negative impression. CMS now acknowledges, however, that advancements in computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing technology eliminate the need to create an actual model of the patient’s foot. Instead, CAD/CAM technology now allows the direct milling of an insert without molding or negative impression. CMS has scheduled a Special Open Door Forum on Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. EST to discuss the changes. Stakeholders may email comments on the changes to ReducingProviderBurden@cms.hhs.gov through Dec. 11. CMS plans to finalize the revisions prior to Jan. 1, 2018. The American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association was among the groups pressuring CMS to make the changes.

    Sommetrics enters Canadian market

    SAN DIEGO – Sommetrics has partnered with AvantSleep to distribute its sleep apnea therapy system, aerSleep, to Canadians diagnosed with OSA. AvantSleep will distribute aerSleep, which uses negative external air pressure to maintain an open airway during sleep, in select markets to start, with a full launch planned in 2018. Sommetrics recently received a Health Canada Medical Device License for aerSleep, paving the way for it to be marketed there. The services of AvantSleep, a network of sleep therapy clinics across Canada, include home sleep testing and treatments.

    Munson Healthcare moves, expands

    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Munson Healthcare Home Medical Equipment has a new location and more space, according to a local newspaper. The new, 5,252-square-foot space will allow the provider to expand its product offerings, which include scooters, lift chairs, urologicals and compression garment. Munson will offer more breast pumps, nebulizers and respiratory supplies in its expanded “Kid’s Corner,” and has added therapeutic shoes in response to customer demand.

    Aeroflow consolidates inventory under one roof

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has purchased a new building and fulfillment facility in Asheville, N.C., in a move that the company says is a reflection of its continued growth and increased productivity. The new 35,000-square-foot facility will consolidate product inventories currently housed in two separate locations in Asheville, resulting in increased efficiency and improved rates of delivery, according to a press release. Aeroflow will employ about 30 procurement, distribution and clinical services employees at the facility when it opens this fall, with plans to add about 50 employees by the end of 2018. The facility is less than four miles from Aeroflow’s corporate headquarters on Sweeten Creek Road.

    Sports ‘N Spokes names winners

    PHOENIX – Sports ‘N Spokes, the sports and recreation magazine of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, has announced the winners of its “Get Out & Enjoy Life” photo contest. First place goes to Ashlee Lundvall of Wyoming for her photo of fly-fishing. Lundvall will receive a custom-built Razorback wheelchair courtesy of Colours Wheelchairs, a GOEL T-shirt and the cover spot on the November issue of S’NS magazine. Second place goes to Seth Conroy of Nevada for his photo of Horseshoe Bend in Arizona; and third place goes to Ismael Arena of New York for his photo of “Columbia off-roading.” It’s the seventh year that S’NS, along with the Spina Bifida Association and Cure Medical, have sponsored the contest.

    ResMed adds remote patient monitoring to AirMini

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed’s AirMini, a travel CPAP device, is now connected to its AirView remote patient monitoring platform. The connectivity between AirMini and AirView allows HME providers to see a patient’s nightly data, verify adherence and spot any issues. ResMed sees monitoring as a key factor in proper therapy, citing a recent study that found 87% of patients were adherent when remote and self-monitoring tools were used. Once patients download or update the latest "AirMini by ResMed 1.2" app and opt in to upload data to the cloud, providers can view the same reports, charts, notes and therapy thresholds in AirView just like they can for ResMed's bedside Air10 devices. Providers can register their patients' AirMini devices through the AirView, Brightree or U-Sleep patient management platforms. ResMed launched the AirMini earlier this year.

    NSM completes expanded ops center

    NASHVILLE – National Seating & Mobility has completed the expansion and remodeling of its operations center in Chattanooga, Tenn. To commemorate the occasion, NSM hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting on Nov. 3, with guests of honor that included NSM CEO Bill Mixon and Republican state Sen. Bo Watson. The operations center now has more than 20,000 square feet of additional space to accommodate the company’s continued growth. The center, which now features an open design and break rooms, houses NSM’s payer relations, accounting, billing and collection departments, employing more than 200.

    NJ train operators screened for sleep disorders

    HOBOKEN N.J. – NJ Transit has taken 44 train engineers out of service until they meet treatment requirements for sleep apnea, according to NJ.com. NJ Transit screened 373 engineers for sleep disorders. Out of those engineers, 57 were taken out of service until a full sleep study could be conducted: 13 were found not to have a sleep disorder. The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that an engineer operating the train that crashed Sept. 29, 2016, suffered from severe sleep apnea. One woman was killed and 108 people were injured.

    Short takes: Universal Software, Metamason

    Metamason has been named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree for its Miia nasal hybrid mask. The mask leverages 3D scans of each patient’s face to ensure a custom mask. The awards are evaluated on aesthetic and design qualities, intended use/function and user value, unique/novel features present and how the design and innovation of the product directly compares to other products in the marketplace…Universal Software Solutions has released HDMS Scheduler, a tool to increase interoperability between different departments. The HDMS Schedulers allows providers to define appointment location, room types, professionals conducting the appointment, and the appointment types themselves.

     


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    11/14/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will nominate former pharmaceutical executive and industry lobbyist Alex Azar to the top post at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to news reports.

    Trump tweeted on Monday: “He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.”

    The nomination follows the resignation of Trump’s first HHS secretary, Tom Price. Price left HHS in September amid an investigation into his use of charter flights instead of cheaper commercial flights.

    Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Previously, he was president of Lilly USA, an affiliate of Eli Lilly, from January 2012 to January 2017.

    Azar has worked at HHS before: From 2005-07, he was a deputy secretary in the department, and from 2001-05, he was general counsel.

    Azar’s nomination must be approved by the Senate.


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    11/17/2017
    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders have kicked efforts to gather co-sponsors for H.R. 4229 into high gear and have no plans of slowing down, they say.

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., introduced the legislation Nov. 2, with 53 original co-sponsors. At press time, there were 75 total co-sponsors.

    “Right now, this is a good grassroots opportunity to show that there is an urgent need and a feeling in Congress that we have to fix this problem long term,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “Some of the more aggressive states are piling co-sponsors on.”

    The bill would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019. It would also address a so-called “double dip” cut to oxygen therapy.

    Stakeholders in the Midwest, in particular, are throwing up big numbers. In Iowa, they have 100% of representatives signed on to H.R. 4229; in Missouri, it’s 75%.

    “Some of the real tough cookies we’ve had to deal with in the past are finally supporting us,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, whose territory includes largely rural states that have been devastated by the roll out of bidding-derived pricing. “They are finally getting it—it is impacting the patients and nobody wants that.”

    Still, a big question remains: How much will the bill cost and how will it be paid for? That’s for congressional leadership to determine, say stakeholders.

    “That’s not our challenge right now,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

    Additionally, stakeholders haven’t given up on an interim final rule that presumably would provide relief in non-bid areas and that has been sitting at the Office of Management and Budget since Aug. 24.

    “Our goal is to have some sort of relief, whether it’s through the IFR or the legislation,” said Bachenheimer. “The IFR is preferable because it’s faster and easier.”

    Going forward, stakeholders are eyeing a potential Senate companion bill to H.R. 4229, with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., as a possible lead sponsor. Thune has sponsored bid-related legislation in the past.

    Stakeholders are also working with Dobson DaVanzo & Associates on a second study that will compare a recent access survey to claims data to determine if there’s some cost-shifting going on.

    “I hope that’s a good complement to the access survey,” said Ryan. “We’ve had some good meetings on the Hill with the access survey and have made it even more Hill-friendly with specific anecdotes by state.”

     


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    11/17/2017
    Theresa Flaherty

    BALTIMORE – CMS did not always follow its own procedures and federal requirements for awarding competitive bidding contracts consistently, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

    CMS did not follow the bid process consistently for 23 of 215 winning suppliers, the OIG found.

    Breaking it down, the agency awarded contracts to 10 suppliers that did not meet financial statement requirements and 13 suppliers that did not have the required license in at least one competition, according to the OIG.

    The inconsistencies affected 99 of the 240 sampled single payment amounts, the OIG found.

    Additionally, CMS did not monitor suppliers in accordance with established procedures and federal requirements for another 31 suppliers. These suppliers did not maintain the applicable license required by their contract for the last six months of 2013, according to the OIG.

    With these errors, CMS paid suppliers $182,000 less than they should have, or less than .03% of the $553.7 million paid under Round 2 during the last six months of 2013, the OIG estimates.

    The report recommends that CMS follow established program procedures and federal requirements consistently; ensure that suppliers have the required licensure; and monitor supplier licensure requirements by implementing a system to identify potential unlicensed suppliers.

    Trump to nominate ‘star’ to lead HHS

    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will nominate former pharmaceutical executive and industry lobbyist Alex Azar to the top post at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to news reports.

    Trump tweeted on Monday: “He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.”

    The nomination follows the resignation of Trump’s first HHS secretary, Tom Price. Price left HHS in September amid an investigation into his use of charter flights instead of cheaper commercial flights.

    Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Previously, he was president of Lilly USA, an affiliate of Eli Lilly, from January 2012 to January 2017.

    Azar has worked at HHS before: From 2005-07, he was a deputy secretary in the department, and from 2001-05, he was general counsel.

    Azar’s nomination must be approved by the Senate.

    CareCentrix looks into offshore activity

    HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has clarified the intent of its offshore policy, in response to a query from AAHomecare. The company recently updated its manual to state that providers may not “(1) perform or engage with business agents to perform any functions, activities or services under its agreement with CareCentrix from a location outside the United States; or (2) send or transmit to, or access, members’ protected healthcare information or other personal information from outside the United States.” CareCentrix said the purpose of the change is to determine: Do its providers actually have PHI offshore; and if they do, what are the specific details on what is being sent offshore, and what security measures are in place to ensure regulatory privacy and security? After CareCentrix receives information from providers, it will make a determination as to whether or not steps need to be taken to ensure that regulatory guidelines are met. AAHomecare says it has been assured that contracts will not be terminated if providers indicate they are using offshore services.

    F&P wins patent case in UK

    AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The English Patents Court has sided with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, saying a ResMed patent for masks is invalid in the U.K. “While today’s ruling is just one more step on the journey, it reinforces our confidence in our position, and we are satisfied with progress so far,” said Lewis Gradon, managing director and CEO, in a press release. In 2016, F&P sought a declaration from the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Patents Court in the U.K. that three of ResMed’s European patents were invalid in the U.K. and should be revoked. ResMed counterclaimed for infringement, but just before the trial was set to start, the company revoked two patents, leaving only one before the court. ResMed responded to the ruling, saying it was pleased by the court’s “unambiguous statement regarding our assertion that Fisher & Paykel’s Simplus and Eson masks infringe ResMed’s patent” and pointing out the court’s statement that, “Had it been valid it would have been infringed.” ResMed says it is considering an appeal.

    Quantum Rehab hosts design forums

    EXETER, Pa. – Quantum Rehab recently hosted its 2017 Design Forums for Rehab Professionals. The two-day events brought together clinicians from rehab facilities across the country to share their experience with ways to improve existing technology, and new ideas for products and services. “We seek constant input from consumers, providers and clinicians to ensure Quantum delivers innovative, market-driven mobility technology,” said Jay Brislin, vice president of Quantum Rehab, in a release.

    AOPA, O&P News ‘perfect fit’

    WASHINGTON – The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association has agreed to buy O&P News Magazine from SLACK Inc., it announced today. “(It’s) the perfect fit of O&P News with AOPA’s objective to expand communications with the O&P community to ensure that the latest in research and technology developments and information is served up in as many forums as possible,” said Michael Oros, AOPA president. “O&P News has the potential to play an important role in that endeavor.” AOPA already publishes the O&P Almanac. The association plans to explore opportunities to diversify content toward the practitioner and referral community with O&P News.

    FAHCS hosts successful conference

    FORT LAUDERDALE – The Florida Alliance of Home Care Services welcomed Madeline Delp, Ms. Wheelchair USA, to its Fall Conference, held Nov. 8 and 9. As the conference keynote speaker, Delp shared her experiences and illustrated why it’s important for the HME industry to assist patients as best as they can, said FAHCS in a release. The association’s current agenda includes working with AAHomecare and The VGM Group on payer issues, and reaching out to third-party administrators in an effort to build relationships for constructive dialogue.

    ISS releases program, opens registration

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The program and registration for the 34th International Seating Symposium, March 6-9 at the Westin Bayshore here, is now available online. The event’s program addresses current and future developments in seating, positioning and mobility, with topic areas that include service delivery, product development, research and outcomes. It features pre-symposium, plenary, instructional, paper and poster sessions. Sponsors of the event include Inspired by Drive, Invacare, Ki Mobility, Permobil, Comfort Company, Quantum Rehab, Sunrise Medical and Stealth Products. ISS is considered one of the premier meetings in the world for clinicians, researchers, manufacturers and others who work to improve seating and mobility for people with disabilities. The event is hosted by Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children and the University of British Columbia.

    Mediware, Empire Home Infusion go deeper

    LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems has announced that Empire Home Infusion Services in Ballston Spa, N.Y., has expanded its partnership with the company to include on-site consulting and training. The provider, part of the St. Peter’s Health Partners System, says the consulting and training has improved its relationships with referral sources. “We can now stand by our commitment to always respond to incoming referrals within thirty minutes,” said Michelle Mazzacco, vice president of the community services division at St. Peter’s Health Partners. “In addition, we have streamlined insurance verification and how we manage Part D claims so that our business minimizes the risk of unpaid claims and, in turn, reduces our overall bad debt.” Empire Home Infusion has relied on Mediware Reimbursement Services to manage its billing and collection needs since 2004.

    Philips launches COPD campaign featuring marathoner

    AMSTERDAM – Royal Philips has launched a “global movement” to raise awareness for COPD ahead of World COPD Day on Nov. 15. Philips is collaborating with marathoner Russell Winwood, who has COPD, to create motivational content designed to help educate, engage and empower COPD patients and their caregivers. The company is working with Winwood to share his personal journey with other COPD patients to inspire them to live their lives to the fullest. Six months after his diagnosis, he completed his first full Ironman and continues to participate in triathlons around the world, showing that a COPD diagnosis does not need to stop patients from enjoying their favorite activities. Philips has also committed to donating $1 to The COPD Foundation for every campaign video share throughout November, which is COPD Awareness Month. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and is expected to be the third leading cause by 2020.

    Wearables can help predict hypertension, sleep apnea

    SAN FRANCISCO – Off-the-shelf wearables and a multi-task deep learning algorithm are “surprisingly good” predictors of hypertension and sleep apnea, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco have found. “Whether such (devices) can provide durable and portable predictions for these conditions in other study samples is worth pursuing,” they wrote. Wearables and deep learning algorithms use PPG sensors and accelerometers to determine heart rate variability and activity patterns, which have been associated with incident hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea. The results were not statistically significant for diabetes.

    ResMed announces board change

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has named Karen Drexler to its board of directors, the company has announced. Drexler is CEO and board member of Bay area biotech company Sandstone Diagnostics, and has extensive healthcare management experience. "I'm thrilled to welcome Karen Drexler to ResMed's Board," said ResMed Founder and Board Chairman Peter Farrell. "Her deep expertise in advising and managing medical device, digital health and diagnostic companies, and particularly her experience in technology and out-of-hospital care models, will serve ResMed well as we continue to deepen our leadership in connected care and digital health." Drexler replaces Dr. Chris Roberts, who has retired after serving more than 25 years on the board.

    Pediatrics: Thrive Skilled Pediatric Care, Kids Mobility Network

    Wakefield, Mass.-based Thrive Skilled Pediatric Care has acquired Richmond-Va.-based The Pediatric Connection, which has three locations in Virginia, according to a local news article. The Pediatric Connection offers respiratory equipment and nutritional services…Denver-based Kids Mobility Network has provided more than $5 million in durable medical equipment to children with disabilities. The nonprofit has provided wheelchairs, walkers and other DME since 2006.
     


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    Barriers include lack of requirement, cost, respondents say
    11/17/2017
    Liz Beaulieu

    YARMOUTH, Maine – Remote patient monitoring appears to be permeating the sleep therapy market, but not so much for the oxygen therapy market, according to the most recent HME Newspoll.

    Eighty percent of poll respondents report they use the technology in their sleep business, but only 15% say they do in their oxygen business.

    “Really, we only use remote monitoring for CPAP compliance,” wrote Josh Turner, billing manager and compliance officer for McAbee Medical in Decatur, Ala. “With reimbursement the way it is and compliance for oxygen usage not being required, we have to look for the best value in oxygen equipment.”

    CMS has required compliance as a condition for reimbursement for CPAP therapy since 2008.

    With margins razor-thin, remote patient monitoring allows providers to prove CPAP patients are compliant with their therapy in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, respondents say.

    “It is a really valuable tool and saves staff time and (results in) fewer patient interactions in the office,” wrote Kim Wonsick, the compliance officer at J&B Medical in Wixom, Mich. “Typically, if a patient has to come in to bring an SD card, it will turn into a 15- or 20-minute discussion that needs to be directed to their sleep doctor.”

    For oxygen patients, in addition to the lack of a compliance requirement, cost seems to be a big barrier to providers adopting remote patient monitoring, according to the poll.

    “I wish we could afford to use it on oxygen,” said Katy Collins, the lead RT at Archbold Home Care in Thomasville, Ga.

    For these reasons, the ramp up in using remote patient monitoring for oxygen patients will likely be a protracted one. In fact, only 15% of respondents who don’t currently use remote patient monitoring plan to in the next year, according to the poll.

    “Remote patient monitoring for oxygen is great but will be a slow implementation, as we would not replace our existing equipment just to add the technology, and then only if the price is competitive,” Wonsick added.

    But respondents who are leveraging connected technology from the likes of O2 Concepts,Invacare and CAIRE to remotely monitor their oxygen patients are saying it pays off.

    “It has reduced service calls, assisted with reimbursement from HMO administrators and reduced shrinkage due to theft or moving after death,” wrote one respondent. “Currently, one-fifth of our patients are monitored.”

     

     

     


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