How to Add Compression to Your Line of Services
- By David Kopf
- Jul 01, 2010
These days, providers are on a constant hunt for ways for expand their businesses, and compression represents a key opportunity for HMEs to serve new patients and drive new revenue.
Compression can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including foot swelling, mild edema, varicose veins, thrombosis, varicosities of varying severities, and diabetes. This is where providers can help, by offering a range of compression solutions and ensuring staff can knowledgeably assist a wide range of patients.
Moreover, most people that aren’t experiencing great problems can get away with over-the-counter type lighter compression and that might circumvent any deeper problems in the future. Suffice it to say, the number of potential compression clients is substantial. So how do providers crack into this important service opportunity?
The best place to start is to understand compression. Essentially, compression garments help provide support and increase circulation for the limbs and areas of the body suffering one condition or another. Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury and can range from 15-50 mmHg. Higher levels of compression are typically customized. Lighter compression products start out at 15-20 mmHg, which are for tired, achy legs, mild edema, varicose veins and foot swelling. This level of pressure can also help to prevent vein thrombosis
Higher levels of pressure such as 20-30 mmHg is for severe varicosities, for open face ulcers, moderate edema and post surgery. This level of compression also helps to prevent the recurrence of venous ulcers, moderate to severe varicosities during pregnancy and thrombosis. For people who have ulcers, lymphatic edema and varicosities, they typically need 30-40 mmHg. Once you go beyond 40 mmHg, you’re getting into customization. (To learn more about how compression can be used to treat lymphedema, turn to page 20.)
The next step is for key staff to become certified compression fitters. Fitters receive training by going to different classes and seminars that are typically put on by the manufacturer of the product. The fitter will review a patient’s history and ask key questions to ensure an appropriate fit.
Ultimately, ensuing successful outcomes for compression patients comes down to compliance. From a clinical perspective, one of the key elements for a solid compression business lies in fostering compliance. Even after being given a prescription from a doctor, some patients will come in to get fitted and still may not wear the compression product.
So, a key role for fitters is to show patients how to don and doff compression garments, especially hosiery. The most common mistake patients will make is that they will put on compression hosiery as though it were a typical sock; by bunching the compression sock up on their hands at the point above its heel. Then they’ll try to pull it up over their toe area and then their heel, which is very hard to accomplish. Providers can help them by training patients on the different methods for fitting compression socks.
This actually creates another sales opportunity, since there are products called stocking donners that help patients get in to the hose. Providers should stress to customers that not wearing the hose could lead to more severe swelling, and there’s also a risk of blood clotting.
Additionally, fitters should work with physicians to ensure doctors are aware of the many different levels and applications of compression. The fitter can look at the diagnosis to determine what level of pressure will work best for the patient. The doctor will provide guidelines of what he or she wants to achieve in terms of treatment, and the fitter can help accomplish that. Doctors will also be key referral partners for you, so ensure you and your fitters develop a good rapport with physicians and their staff to ensure they see your business as a solution provider for their patients.
The final step is to start reaching out to new patient groups. For instance, ask local assisted living centers to see if they will let you offer an on-site seminar regarding the benefits of compression. Provide seminars and informative materials that will help position your business as an expert solution provider to various client and patient groups through value marketing and education programs.
Points to take away:
- Compression represents an excellent avenue for reaching out to a wide range of new patients with varying conditions in order to expand your range of services and grow your business.
- Ensure staff not only understand the basics regarding compression, such as ranges of compression and their applications, but that some staff get certified as fitters.
- Your compression fitters should not only work with patients to ensure compliance, but physicians so that you can provide a range of solutions.
- Market compression services to new patients through education.
This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.