In brief: Amazon wants to disrupt health care, VGM helps protect sleep contract

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Friday, March 30, 2018

BOSTON – DME is one of five possible points of entry for Amazon to dominate the healthcare market, according to a new report from global management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting.

“Anyone who thinks of Amazon as just a very big digital retailer needs to think again,” says Rob Haslehurst, managing director at L.E.K and report co-author. “They have repeatedly shown that they have the capabilities, the patience and the deep pockets to disrupt industry after industry. Health care is no exception.”

Earlier this year, Amazon announced its entry into the healthcare market through an alliance with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.

L.E.K. calls DME a “no-brainer” for Amazon, as it already sells general medical supplies and equipment to consumers.

“Amazon’s core competencies in logistics and distribution, and its existing B2B e-commerce platform will allow it to easy expand into hospital and provider supply, disrupting the traditional group purchasing organization contract model,” the report states. “Amazon has already obtained licenses to distribute medical supplies to providers in 43 states.”

Other points of entry for Amazon are mail-order and retail pharmacy (it has secured approval as a wholesale distributor from 12 state pharmaceutical boards); pharmacy benefit manager (it could partner with existing PBMs to gain a pharmacy network and claims adjudication capability); telemedicine or in-home health care (it could leverage its Echo smart speaker for virtual house calls and its Alexa personal assistant to book physician visits and more); and AI-powered diagnostics and continuous care (Alexa already delivers first-aid information and voice-driven self-care instructions in an offering introduced by the Mayo Clinic).

There are three reasons to believe Amazon is serious about health care, the report says.

"One, they are one of the largest private employers in the U.S. and would reap huge financial benefits from lowering healthcare costs,” said Joseph Johnson, managing director and report co-author. “Second, the U.S. healthcare system is notoriously inefficient, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos loves to attack inefficiencies. And third, health care is the kind of big, complex opportunity that Bezos likes to sink his teeth into."

VGM helps protect sleep contract

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has helped providers in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia beat back CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s plans to reduce the number of providers in its network that are authorized to provide CPAP equipment. The insurer planned to limit its network to a few providers after Feb. 15, 2019. When VGM heard from members about CareFirst’s decision, it filed a complaint with the Maryland Insurance Administration and after some back and forth CareFirst agreed to allow any contracted provider to continue providing sleep-related equipment at the contracted reimbursement rate, as long as they meet a set of requirements. “We want to make sure our membership community has access to as many payers as possible to provide better access for patients and their families,” said Clint Geffert, president of VGM & Associates.

Prometheus turns into Prochant

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Prometheus Group, a provider of HME revenue cycle management services, is rebranding to Prochant. Along with a new name, the company has a new logo, graphics, website and messaging. “Our combination of solid processes and a team of highly skilled specialists is a winning formula that helps us make our customers more profitable,” said Joey Graham, general manager and vice president of operations for Prochant. “The new branding more accurately explains how we do what we do.” The new name consists of two parts: pro and chant, with pro representing the professional and proactive nature of the company’s team members; and with chant representing the persistent and relentless nature of its activities. Prochant has two services offerings: full-service billing and staff augmentation.

Med Mart debuts ‘virtual showroom’

CINCINNATI – Med Mart has a new “virtual showroom” that allows customers to view equipment and communicate with product specialists via video. Using mobile wireless cameras, the specialists show customers products from Med Mart’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse and answer questions. “The virtual showroom is a game-changing option for shoppers who don’t live near a Med Mart retail store, or who aren’t able to easily leave their home due to limited mobility,” the company states in a press release. “Photos can only do so much, and when you’re buying medical products, it’s even more important that you understand the features of the product so that you can know if it’s the right option for you.” Med Mart has three stories in Ohio and serves the entire country through an e-commerce website. It carries more than 5,000 products, including lift chairs, hospital beds, power wheelchairs and more.

Soleo Health opens new location in West Virginia

MCKINNEY, Texas – Soleo Health has expanded its national specialty infusion pharmacy platform to 19 states with licensure in 50 states. It recently opened a state-of-the-art pharmacy in West Virginia that allows the company to care for patients not only in West Virginia but also western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley. “As one of the fastest growing specialty infusion companies in the industry, we have experienced double-digit growth every year since our inception in 2014 and care for thousands of patients while adding hundreds of new team members to our dedicated staff,” said Drew Walk, CEO. The West Virginia location, as with most of Soleo’s pharmacy locations, offers the flexibility of receiving care at home or at an on-site ambulatory infusion suite. In the past several months, Soleo has also opened several other specialty infusion pharmacy locations throughout the country, including in Orlando, Fla.; St. Louis; and Denver.

AccessNSM joins AAH…

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has joined AAHomecare as a bronze corporate partner. NSM says the partnership is representative of the provider’s ongoing commitment to public policies that protect access to manual and power complex wheelchairs and mobility related products. “We have been impressed by the scale, capability and effectiveness of AAHomecare in representing the critical areas of our industry,” said Bill Mixon, CEO of NSM. “With specialists on staff and relationships with respected advisors, the association is a credible presence on the front lines on Capitol Hill and at state and federal agencies. We are proud to partner with them in the fight to represent the CRT industry, and we look forward to working together to also impact the mobility industry and the AccessNSM clients we serve.” Corporate sponsorships strengthen AAHomecare’s impact in areas like payer relations, value-based reimbursement models and research. They also support the association’s legislative and regulatory representation of the complex rehab industry.

…and VGM Live at Home

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – AccessNSM, a division of National Seating & Mobility, has joined the VGM Live at Home nationwide community of home accessibility providers and certified modification contractors. NSM says the partnership will connect AccessNSM with VGM’s network of business tools and resources, as well as vendor programs. “The new partnership with VGM is a natural fit for AccessNSM,” said Kalen McKenzie, vice president of the division. “VGM has made great strides bringing the home access industry together, and we look forward to utilizing their resources in providing the best services and solutions for our clients.” AccessNSM offers everything from stair, wheelchair and vehicle lifts to ramps to bathroom accessories.

NRRTS extends amnesty program

LUBBOCK, Texas – NRRTS has extended an Amnesty Program for awarding the CRTS designation to new or current registrants who meet certain criteria through June 1. The organization has awarded the designation to about 30 registrants since the program launched on Jan. 1. Registrants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the program: They must have a minimum of three years of experience providing direct services to consumers; they must be an ATP in good standing for a minimum of three years at the time of their application; and they must complete the application for registry to the satisfaction of the review chair within the timeframe. Current registrants who meet the criteria will be awarded the CRTS designation on their 2018 renewal.

Attendees FLYP for new product at Medtrade Spring

LAS VEGAS – Medtrade Spring attendees tapped the FLYP Nebulizer for a gold in the New Product Pavilion’s Providers’ Choice Awards. X-top for Men received silver, and Werth Folding Walker Storage Rack received Bronze. FLYP by Convexity Scientific is described by company officials as a “game-changing, pocket-portable nebulizer” that’s prescribed by physicians for respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD. X-top for Men by McAirland’s is specifically designed for the male anatomy and provides 360-degree leak-proof protection for any activity. The Werth Folding Walker Storage Rack by Werth holds walkers individually, allowing for quick and easy selection and removal. Medtrade Spring has been taking place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas since Monday.

Goodwill HME offers free shipping on incontinence products

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – Goodwill Home Medical Equipment, a division of Goodwill Industries that provides affordable medical equipment and supplies, now offers free shipping on all incontinence product orders of $50 or more. The nonprofit says it offers a wide variety of incontinence products, including tab closure briefs, underwear pull-ups, underpads and wipes, from trusted brands. Because its customers receive donated unused medical supplies and/or gently used medical equipment and they pay cash, they receive reduced rates. A standard wheelchair that sells for $500, for example, is available through Goodwill for $110, the nonprofit says.

Accreditation news: BOC, CHAP

Owings Mills, Md.-based Board of Certification/Accreditation has won a Stevie Award for Innovation in Customer Service, the company announced March 27. It’s BOC’s eighth consecutive Stevie Award. The company’s bronze award in the “New Product Development for Customer Demand” category recognizes its focus on new strategies and tactics for continuously improving service to its customers. In its entry submission, BOC highlighted its recently launched Compounding Accreditation, which was created after pharmacies began requesting it, and its Durable Medical Equipment Specialist certification, which the company plans to expand with additional locations this year. The Stevie Awards were created to honor and generate public recognition for the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals worldwide. Winners were announced during a gala banquet on Feb. 23 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas…CMS has renewed Washington-based Community Health Accreditation Program’s home health accreditation for use by home health agencies to demonstrate compliance with the Medicare home health Conditions of Participation or CoP. More than 2,000 home health agencies use CHAP accreditation for this purpose and have received CMS deemed status post-survey.