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.