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HME Smart Talk Article – Part 4

Our very own Curt Merriman was asked to prepare a 4-part article for HME News “Smart Talk” column. We happily are reprinting it here.

Q. With the continued shortage of respiratory therapists, how do we look for ways to maximize this scarce resource? 

A.One HME company has outsourced their RT coverage exclusively with a tele-respiratory therapist. This organization incorporates a couple of strategies: 

The customer comes into the HME’s location and meets with a customer service representative and a tele-respiratory therapist joins remotely to provide the PAP setup instruction. The relationship is developed between the in-location staff, as well as the remote RT. 

The HME technician delivers the device to the customer’s home and the driver technician uses their work smartphone and a HIPAA-compliant telehealth app to connect the tele-respiratory therapist in the customer’s home to provide whatever equipment instruction is needed.  

The driver technicians delivering and setting up equipment in the home are a staple of the HME industry. Combining the driver’s role with the RT or other health care professionals could be a game changer. The HME company is able to offer the convenience of delivery and set up in the home and again maximize their resources by providing the clinical component to the setup instructions via telehealth.  

Providing the “hands on” equipment manipulation in the home removes some of the physical barriers that are present when performing completely remote setups. This hybrid process enhances the patient-caregiver relationship with the HME as it would with the RT delivering and setting up the device in person.  

Innovation has always played a role in how we care for our patients at home. HME respiratory care is at a crossroads. Those who are willing to utilize tele-respiratory therapists will reap the benefits of scalable, patient-centered solutions, while keeping staff RTs refreshed and excited about their roles.

Curt Merriman is chief sales officer for rtNow. Reach him at curt@rtNow.net.

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HME Smart Talk Article – Part 3

Our very own Curt Merriman was asked to prepare a 4-part article for HME News “Smart Talk” column. We happily are reprinting it here.

Curt Merriman

Q. Is there an opportunity for me to provide remote patient monitoring? 

A.The HME industry has always had innovators and care providers interested in providing health care services that improve a patient’s quality of life in their homes. At the same time, payers continuously ratchet the fee schedules downward. Remote physiological monitoring can be a game changer. 

While not officially recognized by CMS as telehealth, RPM does have four primary CPT codes (99453m 99454, 99457 and 99458) and reimbursement to allow for adherence and compliance measures to improve care in the home. Biometric sensors (usually with Bluetooth technology) provide physiologic data taken from the patient. This data is sent to a cloud-based dashboard to be monitored for early changes. These changes can indicate non-adherence to therapy or provide clinical signs and symptoms of a health risk or exacerbation. 

RPM is typically billed and managed through a provider/physician clinic and may utilize Qualified Healthcare Providers (QHCPs) to perform the monitoring and direct communication with the patient, with escalation to the provider as needed. This service can be outsourced as a contracted extension of the physician’s practice. Respiratory therapists and other health care providers meet the definition of a QHCP. 

Companies such as Verustat offer RPM services in the HME industry. Some interesting findings from various sources: 90% of patients want a digital health connection with their doctor; RPM has been shown to improve patient satisfaction; and RPM reduces emergency visits, improves patient health and reduces hospital admissions. 

RPM of data allows for another opportunity for outsourcing resources. Many clinics that implement RPM do not have the staff bandwidth to take on the extra time required for monitoring and the required monthly communication with the patient.  

Curt Merriman is chief sales officer for rtNow. Reach him at curt@rtNow.net. 

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