Providers struggle to communicate industry issues
YARMOUTH, Maine – A majority of HME providers say they’re working to make patients aware of the difficulties facing the industry, but it doesn’t always sink in.
"Customers are complacent," said one respondent. "(They're) unwilling to come to the aid of suppliers."
Other respondents reported difficulty raising awareness because patients have their own problems to deal with or they find the issues too complicated to grasp.
Still, 60% of providers continue to beat the drum. Provider Lori Sears reported that she has had to make patients aware of documentation issues to get what she needs from doctors.
"We've always wanted to take the hassle out of reimbursement for our patients, but until doctors start documenting things better, we've been forced to get our patients involved," said Sears, owner of Lapeer, Mich.-based Active Home Medical Supply.
The tools of choice for providers raising awareness: letters, mailers or flyers.
"We have created a letter that explains the competitive bidding program along with telephone numbers for (lawmakers) so that they can voice their displeasure with the program," said Christopher Tucker of Tavares, Fla.-based Waterman Medical Equipment and Supplies.
One respondent has gone above and beyond by: sponsoring an infomercial on the radio; appearing on a talk radio show; writing articles for local magazines and newspapers; and speaking to support groups. Other respondents have turned to the web—writing blogs and emailing customers.
But all that raising awareness may be for naught, until patients are impacted directly by the difficulties facing the industry.
"Now that the customers are feeling the effects, they are becoming more and more aware of what is going on with competitive bidding, reimbursements by insurance, (and) lack of patient service due to requirements and paperwork," said L. Christel, manager at Sturgeon Bay, Wis.-based Bay Pharmacy HME.