Getting Your Foot in the Door

Doctors use continuous passive motion (CPM) devices to help patients regain their range of motion after a surgery that affects a joint. For providers, CPM devices offer a unique blend of institutional care and homecare that can be integrated into service offerings as patients typically take the devices home from the hospital (on a rental basis) for two to three weeks as they recover from surgery.

“Once the CPM program is up and running and you’ve got your system in place, it’s a nice business to be in because it kind of takes care of itself. As long as you’ve got the right people out there working, delivering machines and you’ve got good, dependable employees, it really is pretty easy from that point forward,” says Kent Bishop, president of OmniKare.

In order to get the machines into hospitals so that the patient gets right on them after surgery, providers have to make deals with referral partner physicians and, in some cases, directly with the hospitals.

It often helps if a provider is already in the market with other products because it provides something to piggyback on with established physician relationships. Still, if CPM machines are a provider’s first foray into the HME market, a good program can help get appointments with busy physicians.

So, what is a good program? Bishop says it is one that helps generate revenue for the physician, having a good reputation in the market with very few patient issues or complaints, on-time delivery, willingness to deliver at all hours if necessary and good, quality service.

“If you just get one physician that will use you, and put you on his or her standing orders, then you just work hard from there. Over time you should be able to get more and more referrals from other physicians via the discharge planners,” Bishop says.

Assessing Advantages, Challenges

Like all products, integrating CPMs comes with both advantages and challenges. One advantage is that since most doctors, nurses and physical therapists are aware of CPMs, there is not a lot of selling that goes into it.

“It offers a revenue stream for the physician’s office,” Bishop says. “Although it’s not a large revenue stream to them, it certainly is one that will help offset their overhead. So any time you can do that with a physician they are appreciative, and you do get their interest.”

On the rehab side, since physicians prescribe CPMs for post-op use, bringing a machine into their office offers them more control, the ability to set it up according to their instructions, and, if there is an issue, they know who to contact right away.

A major advantage to the actual CPM devices is their long lifespan and dependability. Aside from freak occurrences or extremely rare situations, Bishop says a CPM machine should never need to be replaced.

“That’s a huge advantage. It’s basically a one-time cost to get in and then maintenance as needed,” he notes. “Once the machines are paid off, it’s just straight profit because basically you never have to replace one.”

In the past five or six years of ownership, Bishop can only recall his machines needing minimal repairs or parts replacement.

“A machine probably goes out (to a patient) once a month, so that’s 11 or 12 times a year. Multiply that by five or six years or seven years. That’s a lot of usage and to have one maybe malfunction once or twice—that’s a pretty high reliability,” he explains.

The biggest barrier to entry a provider faces in integrating CPMs is cost. There can be a steep capital outlay to get into the market that may require a provider to start small with maybe a handful of machines for one account. Once the initial machines are paid off, the profit (minus overhead and delivery) can allow a provider to slowly add machines to build up inventory and expand.

Other challenges, such as finding the right service person to deliver and setup the machines and hiring other personnel, are typical in any new startup, but also are important considerations in establishing a good CPM program. Providers that are in-network with insurance providers and do their own billing may face additional issues, but this can be avoided by working directly with the physicians and hospitals.

Finding the Right Manufacturer

Finding a dependable CPM manufacturer that can quickly repair and turn around malfunctioning machines is essential to running a successful CPM program. Many manufacturers will provide technical support over the telephone or the CPM device can be shipped in for repair work.

“That’s very important because obviously you don’t want machines sitting around in your office or your storage facility because that’s just a waste of money,” says Bishop. “Machines need to be on patients in order to be generating revenue.”

Points to take away:

  • A revenue-generating CPM program is a good way to get in the door with busy physicians.
  • The high cost of CPM devices can be drawback for smaller providers.
  • CPM machines typically offer a long lifespan with minimal repairs and parts replacement.
  • Finding a dependable CPM manufacturer/supplier that can repair and turnaround machines quickly is essential to running a successful CPM program.

Learn More:

To read about the history of continuous passive motion and the development of CPM machines, check out www.continuouspassivemotion.org.

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of HME Business.

HME Business Podcast

Latest Podcasts