Perhaps the most important thing to come out of these particularly challenging times is that people are sitting up and taking notice. Whichever part of the industry you serve, the bottom line message is one of concern, thoughtfulness and calls to action, motivated by a deep desire to provide the best services, equipment and treatment options for the client. When all of these factors come together in one strong voice, change can—and will—happen, for the greater good of the entire industry.
If it’s not already a cliché, it soon will be: The sleep segment of the DME respiratory market is booming. According to a Wachovia Securities survey published in January, 2006, brand-specific prescriptions for flow generators were up from 29 percent to 47 percent of prescriptions in the current survey. Market analysts predict an overall 20 percent growth in the sleep apnea market through 2007.
Respiratory therapists working in the HME industry are facing their own upheavals as a result of reimbursement cuts. The providers’ drive to preserve the bottom line may go head-to-head with the need to maintain patient services and a high level of care. The profession may need to adjust its strategy for survival in the years ahead.
Two industry coalitions are working hard to raise awareness of the issues and reverse some of the most challenging legislation the industry has seen in recent years.
Turbulent. Transitional. Dynamic. Ever-Changing. Struggling.
This is how manufacturers responded when asked to describe the state of the respiratory industry. Nobody is under any illusions. Even the most optimistic recognizes the fundamental truth that the industry is experiencing perhaps its most intense period of change. Of course, it’s not the first time that changes have come around, but the levels of change proposed in such a relatively short period of time weigh heavily on the entire industry.
The asthma industry was constricted by cuts earlier in the year, but new trends in technology may pave the way for market expansion
The oxygen patient has been the focus of the respiratory company’s attention. Providers, especially those that follow a clinical model, take great pride in the services they furnish to these patients. Over the years, this portion of the home care community has sought to distinguish itself on the basis of its commitment to managing the disease process rather than merely treating the symptoms. Providers have competed on the basis of their services and their willingness to work with others on the patient’s health care team. Policy-makers have not always acknowledged this commitment to service, but this was never a deterrent. Even when policy-makers reduced Medicare reimbursement for oxygen over the years, I was impressed by your commitment to your patients and your communities.
Given the challenges facing reimbursement for home oxygen under Medicare, DME companies are considering whether it makes sense to increase their “sleep business.”
Where will oxygen providers be in 2007? 2008? Unfortunately, the answers are unclear. We have some guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); however, much of it is vague and some of it is simply inconceivable. Our fight has already started.