Ventec gears up

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Friday, December 21, 2018

BOTHELL, Wash. ­– With payment rules and rates finalized for multi-function vents, Ventec Life Systems, maker of the VOCSN, is ready to open the gates to new business on Jan. 1.

CMS released a final rule in November that introduced a new code for multi-function vents, E0467, and outlined payment rules, including that a Medicare beneficiary who requires a vent and only one other therapy is eligible for a multi-function vent.

“This is really important, as almost all vent patients need at least one additional therapy,” said Chris Kiple, president and COO of Ventec, whose VOCSN combines five respiratory therapies into one device: ventilation, oxygen, cough assist, suction and nebulization. “So now we're bringing integration into nearly the entire world of vent patients.”

Beneficiaries who have been using traditional vents can also transition to multi-function vents—unless they already “own” one of the devices that provides one of the four additional therapies. Those beneficiaries can transition to a multi-function vent after the five-year reasonable useful lifetime of those devices.

Additionally, CMS has released its 2019 fee schedule for DMEPOS. The fee schedule varies by state, but multi-function vents will be paid about 15% to 20% more than traditional vents, Ventec officials say.

“That’s up 20% more every month in perpetuity,” Kiple said. “The cost of the suction and the neb are reimbursed for 13 months; the cost of the oxygen concentrator is reimbursed for 36 months. The multi-function vent continues to reimburse and the ROI looks positive in years two, three, four or five. That’s a big deal.”

Ventec must now sell HME providers on multi-function vents and company officials don’t believe it will be a hard sell. In addition to the potential for greater reimbursement, using a multi-function vent improves care for patients (for one, it makes them more mobile) and improves efficiency for providers.

“It’s one code to bill; it’s one device to service,” said Chris Brooks, managing director. “It really streamlines the paperwork and equipment management side.”

Ventec spent much of 2018 gearing up for additional business in 2019, including moving into a new facility in November that increases its manufacturing capacity by 10x, and boosting its sales and clinical support teams.

“Our big focus has been a national sales coverage team, which we launched in September,” Kiple said.

The only potential obstacle in Ventec’s way, it seems, is CMS’s proposal to include vents, including multi-function vents, in the next round of competitive bidding. The agency accepted comments on the proposal until Dec. 17.

“Great care in the home is about access to technology and access to great people, and we think competitive bidding would turn both of those to the lowest common denominator,” Kiple said. “We’re concerned that would create a bigger divide between technology that’s available in a hospital and what’s available in the home, and what that does is force patients to return to the hospital more often.”