In brief: Senate letter approaches deadline, Brightree beefs up resupply management solution

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Friday, July 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – HME stakeholders have until Tuesday, July 11, to collect signatures for a letter from Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., asking HHS Secretary Tom Price to use his regulatory authority to provide relief from competitive bidding in rural areas. At press time on Friday, 14 senators had signed the letter. A similar letter in the House of Representatives drew 154 signatures. As proof that the letters have an impact, CMS announced June 23 that it would no longer apply bid-related pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs, an “ask” in the House letter. “This letter from the U.S. Senate sends a strong and united voice from Congress to HHS and CMS saying DME policy issues need to be made a priority,” VGM stated in a bulletin to members last week. “The remaining senators will not sign unless they hear from their constituents.”

Brightree beefs up resupply management solution

ATLANTA – Brightree announced last week that it has bought AllCall Connect, a Joliet, Ill.-based provider of live-calling solutions for CPAP patient resupply, its second acquisition in as many months.

Brightree says its acquisition of AllCall Connect will allow it to enhance Brightree Connect, its resupply patient contact management solution, with a “turnkey live-call center service with trained experts and proven processes,” according to a press release.

“Data has shown us that interactive voice response systems are effective at managing patient outbound calls,” said Matt Mellott, president and CEO of Brightree. “Live outbound calling, combined with Brightree Connect’s IntelligentQ technology, is far more impactful in optimizing an HME’s CPAP resupply program and providing a better patient experience.”

In another move to boost its resupply management solution, Brightree announced in June that it has integrated its technology with VGM Fulfillment’s technology, allowing its provider customers to drop-ship supplies directly from VGM Fulfillment’s warehouse.

Brightree believes resupplies are an important part of compliance to sleep therapy. Research indicates more than 50% of patients that order resupplies on a regular basis sleep more than seven hours per night and more than 80% of them use their therapy seven nights per week, it says.

Brightree announced in June that it had bought Conduit Technology, a provider of document and workflow solutions. Conduit Technology’s flagship product, Conduit Office, is the engine behind Brightree’s MyForms.

Last year, Brightree sold to ResMed for $800 million.

Airway Oxygen hit by ransomware attack

WYOMING, Mich. – Airway Oxygen has experienced a ransomware attack affecting 500,000 individuals, according to the breach portal of the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services. In a notice to customers, Airway Oxygen said it learned that an unidentified criminal(s) had gained access to its technical infrastructure and installed ransomware to deny the company access to its own data. “We have no indication that any of your protected health information stored on the computer network was accessed and acquired,” it stated in the notice. “Nevertheless, we wanted to provide notice to you so that you would be aware of the situation.” Airway Oxygen said the types of protected health information involved in the breach include full name, home address, birth date, telephone number, diagnosis, type of services provided and health insurance policy numbers. It said no bank account numbers or debit or credit card numbers were exposed in the breach. Since learning of the incident, Airway Oxygen said it has taken steps to secure its internal systems against further intrusion, including scanning the entire internal system; changing passwords for users, vendor accounts and applications; conducting a firewall review; updating and deploying security tools; and installing software to monitor and issue alerts as to suspicious firewall log activity. “We have hired a cyber-security firm to assist in conducting an investigation to assess the case and impact of the breach,” it stated. “In addition, we are identifying further actions to reduce the risk of this situation recurring.”

Graham-Field uses grant to increase exposure

ATLANTA – Graham-Field has received a $5,000 grant and been named a semi-finalist in the Atlanta Metro Export Challenge, a competition sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, UPS and Partnership Gwinnett. Twenty-eight companies were selected as semi-finalists and each receives a grant to apply toward expenses related to building capacity and activities, according to a press release. “It is an honor to be a winner of the annual Atlanta Metro Export Challenge”, said Ken Spett, president & CEO. “The grant will enable Graham-Field to further expand our international trade show participation to reach new customers.” Graham-Field’s Hausted Stretcher and Chair Patient Handling and Lumex Clinical Care Recliner lines are manufactured in the USA.

PHS ranks among best workplaces

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Pediatric Home Service has been recognized as one of the 2017 Top 150 Minnesota Workplaces for the seventh year in a row. The Star Tribune ranked PHS second out of 109 mid-sized companies, according to a press release. The awards recognize the most progressive companies based on a confidential employee survey measuring benefits, pay, work/life balance and employee engagement. “We want PHS to be an environment that makes employees want to come and stay,” said Mark Hamman, president. “We want them to stay for their entire career, and many of our employees have.”

Ottobock backs Invictus Games

AUSTIN, Texas – Ottobock Healthcare will support the Invictus Games for the third year in a row, the mobility solutions supplier announced in a press release. Founded by Prince Harry, the games are the only international adaptive sporting event for injured military service members. Events at the games, to be held Sept. 23-30 in Toronto, include archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, cycling swimming and wheelchair basketball and rugby. Ottobock will provide prosthetic and orthotic technical services for the athletes. “Ottobock has a long history of partnering with international sporting competitions that support athletes with physical challenges reach their goals,” said Matt Swiggum, regional president and CEO for Ottobock North America. “We welcome the opportunity to assist these brave men and women as they compete through sport at the Invictus Games again this year.”

Circadiance joins VGM’s network

PITTSBURGH – Circadiance has joined VGM’s network of vendors, increasing the company’s access to more than 5,000 independent HME providers. “The partnership between Circadiance and VGM allows Circadiance to reach a large number of HME providers with innovative sleep and respiratory monitoring products,” said David Groll, CEO of Circadiance. As part of the partnership, Circadiance will offer VGM members “an economical ordering advantage,” the company says. Circadiance’s brands include the SleepWeaver soft cloth CPAP mask, the NeoPAP high flow respiratory support system, and the SmartMonitor infant apnea monitor.

Providers in the news: Keeler’s Medical Supply files for bankruptcy, Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy becomes Haag Pharmacy

Keeler’s Medical Supplyin Yakima, Wash., plans to stay open despite recently filing for bankruptcy, according to the Yakima Herald. Changes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and audits forced the company to file for bankruptcy on June 15, President Chuck Vetsch told the newspaper. Vetsch hopes that filing for bankruptcy will allow the company to negotiate payment plans with its creditors, the newspaper reported. Keeler’s sales feel from just under $10 million in 2010 to a little more than $1.6 million in 2016, according to court documents. As of June 1, the company had about $785,000 in assets…The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Emporia, Kan., is now operating under the name Haag Pharmacy, according to the Emporia Gazette. “Anyone in this business has to be willing to change with it,” Amber Haag, owner, told the newspaper. “We feel now is the time to make this change to better prepare us for future opportunities for growth, and to continue to provide exceptional care and services to our patients.” The pharmacy began operating as the Medicine Shoppe in 1993, when owner Don Hill joined the national franchise.

People in the news: Laura Williard, Lauren Barranti

AAHomecare has promoted Laura Williard to vice president of payer relations. In a bulletin to members, the association credited Williard for “stemming the tide and in some cases reversing further cuts with the help of state associations, utilizing a multi-pronged approach.” AAHomecare says Williard will continue to push and reach out to the Defense Health Agency and contractors to get a CURES fix implemented for Tricare, and will continue to work with state leaders to educate payers like BCBS in a number of states on the impact of using Medicare’s competitive bid rates…CHME, a Foster City, Calif.-based HME provider, has named Lauren Barranti executive vice president. Barranti was most recently vice president of managed care at Apria Healthcare. She has more than 20 years of experience working with medical providers, insurers and government agencies to support the healthcare needs of patients across the country. “Lauren very much appreciates the business model that CHME has created and understands our market approach and is excited to help our company continue to expand our business and service even more patients in need,” said Bernie Zimmer, CHME’s founder and CEO.

Short takes: BOC, QS/1

The Board of Certification/Accreditation has named Harry “J.R.” Brandt as the inaugural recipient of the Jim Newberry Award for Extraordinary Services. BOC says Brandt is a highly respected practitioner and orthotics and prosthetics advocate who played a significant role in BOC’s growth and success. A former member and chairman of BOC’s board of directors, Brandt was instrumental in developing BOC’s accreditation process. The award, launched in 2016 in honor of James Newberry, who passed away that year, recognizes outstanding individuals who perform extraordinary service to BOC and its stakeholders…QS/1 has partnered with Updox to offer Pharmacy Connect, a web-based care coordination suite that helps pharmacies securely exchange patient information with healthcare providers and engage patients. With Pharmacy Connect, a pharmacist can receive clinical files from a physician’s electronic health record system and send the patient a secure notification to access an online appointment  system for medication therapy management (MTM). Once the MTM is completed, the pharmacist can send a secure message with results back to the physician.