Conversations around healthcare and value are intensifying. Progressive DME providers are evaluating how to shift business strategies from commodity trades to strategies that produce value. In doing so, they may question how to accomplish value creation when the products dispensed are not unique and the price is set (indirectly) by the consumer.
Value can be thought of as an equation where there is an amount of quality compared to the cost. In the current DME environment, cost is inflexible as the reimbursements, from agencies like CMS, have reached rate floors. With pricing at its minimum, the only alternative is to increase quality.
When we define quality, we use terms like access, patient experience, safety, and outcomes. The core definition of quality should be always be centered around patient experience. It begins with the patient’s ability to locate the equipment and service needed. It is important to leverage existing relationships with hospitals and facilities to highlight them as part of the value-proposition, especially in times of pandemics and other crises. Do facilities have the ability to dispense the equipment prior to discharge in a consignment setting? Does the practice have a local office where patients can access the equipment? Is there a local drop-ship agency that can assist with delivering mail-order items efficiently?
Part of successful patient management involves going beyond the outcome metrics and building a patient experience plan. Patients go to doctors and hospitals to feel better. By acknowledging that there is a mental component to the equipment provided, practices can shift to ensure patients not only receive the device they need, but feel better afterwards. By implementing patient satisfaction surveys and routinely revisiting them, the provider can modify their processes and procedures to ensure the patient receives the most benefit.
Technology has achieved huge advancements over the past few decades and they largely benefit individual practices. By leveraging EHR systems, the patient receives quicker, more accurate treatment. As more facilities shift to EHR platforms, DME providers can expect to be required to integrate. Tools like electronic patient records and electronic contract management systems can be leveraged to assist our partner communities through automation. Payers look for providers that can respond to requests expeditiously and having easy access to information is a huge benefit. Imagine participating in a discussion with the customer and having all of the relevant information at your fingertips. The result is quicker resolution and higher overall satisfaction.
The creation of value in DME will become increasingly crucial as time goes on, especially as we’re faced with the current pandemic and the possibility of other natural disasters. It is important that providers and health plans discuss what this looks like. With reimbursements at unsustainable lows, it is vital that providers create strategies to create value and be more vocal about the benefit of their products and services.