In a recent survey, a partnership between Wachovia and sister publication Home Health Products, HME providers said they saw average sleep market growth of 13 percent in the past 12 months and expected 12 percent growth over the next 12 months. That’s good news for the sleep industry, a segment recently slated for the first round of competitive bidding.
Planting Bariatric Roots
Growth. For plants, generators of the air we breathe, the process begins small. A seed unfurls roots. The roots penetrate deeper into the earth, stabilizing the plant and drawing in nutrients for cell reproduction. The plant grows larger. The deeper the roots go, the greater the chance for the plant’s survival.
Many bariatric surgeons will not operate if a patient does not have his or her sleep apnea under control. The reason is that an apnea event occurring while a patient is under anesthesia or using heavy narcotics after surgery could result in death.
A study published in April by the American Thoracic Society showed that the incidence of asthma increases by 50 percent for overweight or obese individuals. Put into context: this means that since 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, the connection could have a tremendous impact on public health.
Though many obese patients exhibit symptoms of asthma or sleep apnea — wheezing, shortness of breath, daytime sleepiness — those conditions could be masking another condition altogether.
The RT Advantage
If home care had a mantra, it might be that customer service unlocks doors. Any self-respecting provider knows that the service component can make or break a respiratory business. Good service gives respiratory providers a leg up on competition, while poor service can cause a business to shut its doors.
Everyone interested in the impact competitive bidding might have on suppliers of respiratory devices and services now has a lot more information to consider. On April 2, 2007, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the final rule on competitive bidding. That day, CMS also announced the products and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) that would be subject to competitive bidding.
Anyone who has worked in the HME industry for more than a month has certainly heard of fraud and abuse. In 1999, the Fraud Control Account program paid off big for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) by showing a rate of return of 118 to one. By 2000, four years after reporting a 14-percent improper payment rate, the OIG cut that rate in half. Fiscal year 2000 also brought reported savings of more than $15 billion, 3.350 exclusions, 414 convictions and 357 civil actions against individuals or entities engaged in fraud or abuse of federal programs. The Congressional Budget Office cited anti-fraud activities as one of the reasons for a 30-year extension of the Medicare Trust Fund.
From my perspective as both a health care provider and health care vendor, being the vendor is definitely tougher. Health care sales are not for those who value acceptance over results. Successful health care sales professionals require persistence and stamina to overcome rejection — lots of rejection. But it is not all vendor doom and gloom — vendors generally eat better lunches.
Dr. James K. Walsh is the co-chair of the National Sleep Awareness Roundtable (NSART). Walsh, a published author on sleep and its disorders, has served on the board of directors and held many offices for the American Sleep Disorders Association, the National Sleep Foundation and the Sleep Research Society. He is a past president of the American Sleep Disorders Association. NSART officially launched March 7 during National Sleep Awareness Week. For more information about the organization, visit www.nsart.org.