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by: Theresa Flaherty - Monday, July 27, 2009

So a provider contacted HME News today, hunting around for CPAP utilization data. He believes the CPAP compliance requirements that went into effect in November 2008 have eliminated 30% of his patient roster. Here's what we have for the number of allowed beneficiaries for CPAP from April 2008 to March 2009, the most recent month for which we have data, for the four jurisdictions combined:

April 2008:   217,967

May 2008:   181,078

June 2008:   194,518

July 2008:   197,073

August 2008:   190,075

September 2008:   190,143

October 2008:   197,293

November 2008:   187,162

December 2008:   199,779

January 2009:   186,380

February 2009:   178,229

March 2009:   190,237

That's a 13% decrease in the one-year period from April 2008 to March 2009. How's your CPAP biz?

Liz Beaulieu (Theresa's on vacation this week!)

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Roche has launched a new program for docs and nurses to improve communication with diabetes patients.
"Creative Coaching" helps healthcare professionals with “the art of patient engagement,” said Luc Vierstraete, SVP and general manager of Roche's US diabetes unit, in a statement.
(Not sure what that statement means.)
Anyhoo, if doctors and nurses need training on diabetes communication, it seems logical that providers could maybe step up with a new business option here.
Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Friday, July 17, 2009

Well, it appears that all the lobbying and bills and rallies (and possibly, HME News articles written by yours truly) have paid off for community pharmacists. In health care reform drafts released this week by the House, pharmacists would be exempt from surety bonds and accreditation requirements.

That's music to Bill Popomaronis' ears.

"We have believed all along that pharmacists already meet strict requirements designed to protect the beneficiary and limit fraud," said Popomaronis, vice president of long term and home health care pharmacy services for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

It's not a done deal, of course. But the association has worked hard to make itself heard, including launching a grassroots network and getting a couple of bills introduced. They are obviously doing something right.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We just shipped our August (!) issue off to the printer today. The issue features two separate stories on patient education for diabetes patients. One story is about a distributor, H.D. Smith that has developed a program that providers can customize to use with their own patients. This allows the provider to market themselves to referral services as offering more than just strips and meters.

The other is about a mail-order provider who is in the process of launching such a program. That provider, Mark Libratore, CEO of Liberator Medical, is very passionate about the diabetes market and its opportunities—both from a business perspective and also, the chance to help patients. He forwarded me some numbers from the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Here's the one that should perk our readers up the most:

60% of people with diabetes should receive formal diabetes education. However, only about 1% of Medicare beneficiaries received self-management training in 2004 and 2005.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The fine folks at Mercedes-Benz have developed a drowsy-driving technology called Attention Assist.

The company studied physiological signs of fatigued driving in more than 550 men and women to develop the systems, which includes a steerig angle sensor that recognizes patterns of minor steering corrections. Once a drowsy pattern is recognized, the system sounds the alarm (literally) as well as sends up an espresso cup icon in the instrument panel.

"While nothing replaces a good night's sleep, new automotive technologies
that make drivers aware of their lack of alertness can make a significant
difference in the number of tragic incidents that occur on American roads,"
stated Darrel Drobnich, chief program officer of the National Sleep
Foundation, in a press release.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Monday, July 6, 2009

Up heah in Maine, we have a local community access TV personality, known as the Humble Farmer, who was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea.

So he obtained (I assume) a CPAP with mask and a chin strap (I say assume cause I missed the show and the mainstream media from which I was forwarded this tidbit did a woefully inaccurate job of reporting all the nitty-gritty CPAP details on which we thrive).

Anyhow, apparently the chin strap, described only as "stretchy," cost $220! Now, our humble farmer is not so humble that he doesn't have health insurance, so in that sense he was lucky.

The intrepid TV host investigated and found the same strap retailing online for $19.95. Now, I am not advocating for using Internet pricing as the reimbursement base of all things DME, but, I can't help but wonder what's going on here. Is there actually a CPAP strap that goes for $220? Is it mink-lined? Does it perform a little jowl-tightening therapy on the side? Did it belong to Michael Jackson? (sorry, but until now, we were the only media outlet in existence that hasn't been able to reference that story).

How about my readers? Do you sell these mysterious luxury chin straps? Inquiring minds want to know.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Not a day passes that I don't come across dozens of CPAP and OSA news, everything from studies showing that type 2 diabetes patients likely to suffer from OSA (no, really?) to the latest products. Even lawmakers are getting on the bandwagon. The Oklahoma Senate recently approved the Oklahoma Sleep Diagnostic Testing Regulation Act, stating that there is a growing need for sleep diagnostic testing in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

I also spoke with a provider recently who offers home sleep studies and CPAP. While home testing hasn't proved yet to be the boon that many had anticipated when CMS approved the tests last year, this provider feels it will eventually become the standard model. Her growing company seems to back that up.

I can't name her here, but look for her success story in the August issue.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Friday, June 26, 2009

Diabetes supplies, as you may have heard from the recent PAOC meeting, are off the table for the first round of bidding, although a national proposal to bid out the mail order market is expected to take shape in the next 2 to 3 years.

Bill Popomaronis, of the National Community Pharmacists Association, has been vocal in his displeasure at the committee's make-up, which has several large and mail order providers, but no small diabetes suppliers or independent pharmacists. He fears this could put them and patients at a disadvantage when the program rolls out. So, despite what  may seem like a breather for you, don't  sit back and do nothing. Like your harder-hit counterparts in oxygen and DME, keep up the pressure when tlking with lawmakers.

After all, test strips dropped to $19 a vial under Round1 in some areas and history has a strange way of repeating itself.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It appears sleep disorders are not just the bane of the middle aged. Kids are getting in on the act, too, although a new study says pediatricians may be under-diagnosing the problem.

The study obtained data on 154,957 patients from 32 primary care pediatric practices affiliated with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Results show that less than four % (5,750 children) were diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Of those number, 1.04% were diagnosed with sleep disordered breathing.

CPAP manufacturer Sleepnet is among the few that are waking up to this and developing masks more suitable for children.

Bottom line for providers: Encourage referral sources to discuss such symptoms as snoring, repeated wakefulness and mood changes in children to determine if they might just have a problem.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dorothy, age unknown, has type 2 diabetes and no health insurance. She works in retail so she's not rolling in it. Yesterday, she called into CSPAN's Washington Journal and told former Rep. Tom Price that she's willing to pay for coverage if only some one would sell it to her.

Price's stellar advice: "If you watch your weight, if you exercise, watch what you eat and, you know, continue I guess in this case to take your medication. I don’t know any reason why you shouldn’t be able to find something out there, but you want to look for an employer that has a health care plan. Good luck."

Theresa Flaherty