Saturday, August 31, 2002

ABN: Keep it simple

Q: Now that CMS is letting HME providers "upgrade" patients from lower-end equipment to more appropriate, higher-end equipment in many product lines through the Advanced Beneficiary Notice, how do we have a conversation with a patient that doesn't make us look like a used car salesman?

A: It is great that Medicare has finally recognized the value of HME providers and the positive influence that they can have on a patient. It is important to recognize that the people who work in this industry are the experts on patient equipment, much more so than the average physician or discharge planner.

The first step in building a successful "script" for a patient is to understand and believe that you are the expert in the industry. Tell the patient that you appreciate their business and would like to discuss the options that they have for equipment under Medicare's regulations. Acknowledge the importance of the referral source in this process and let them know that your referral source is very comfortable discussing different types of options with them. Let the patient know that Medicare will pay for the option and that you will get back to the referral source with what equipment was eventually selected.

The next step in the conversation is to review the options with the patient. Most people understand that there are differences in airlines, hotels and clothing stores. Tell them that the same differences apply in the medical field and that there are options for them to consider. Review the options in detail and review the pros and cons of each of these options. Make sure that this is done in a language that the customer understands.

Alison Cherney is president of Cherney & Associates in Brentwood, Tenn. Reach her at 615-776-3399.