True value of patient services
Patient care is essential to compliance
It is well established that in order for sleep apnea patients to experience the health benefits of CPAP therapy, they must be compliant.1–5 Studies have shown that follow-up and education are the most important factors in achieving patient adherence to CPAP therapy.6-10 Additionally, studies have shown that when patients are successful with their therapy, their long-term health care costs are at least 50% lower overall.11-13 By properly educating patients at the start of CPAP therapy and providing regular follow-up during treatment, HME providers are helping patients adhere to their therapy, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and lower costs to the health care insurance payer. Therefore, patient service should be viewed as a critical investment in the home health care industry.
Patient care is a valuable service
HME service is an essential component of the treatment process, one which physicians, sleep labs and patients all depend on greatly. Studies have shown that the frequency of HME provider aftercare is directly correlated with CPAP adherence rates.6-10 Providers who educate their patients about the life-threatening dangers of untreated sleep apnea and demonstrate the importance of CPAP adherence to their patient throughout the course of their therapy achieve better outcomes.
Decreased patient care leads to decreased compliance
Quality of patient care can vary significantly from dealer to dealer. Some internet dealers who compete solely on price have sacrificed patient care to achieve their goals. This model of inadequate patient service can lead to decreased compliance rates. Poor compliance is associated with higher mortality rates, poor health outcomes and double the healthcare and insurance costs.11-18 Without appropriate patient care from HME providers, untreated sleep apnea patients would burden the entire health care system.
Decreased patient care impacts reimbursement
In determining reimbursement rates, health care insurance companies consider a wide variety of sources to establish a benchmark price for medical equipment. The cost of home medical equipment is typically a small fraction of the cost of providing home health care to a patient. The service component is a critical piece of the equation and is incorporated into the overall reimbursement rate.
Providers who compromise patient service in order to offer drastically reduced prices give healthcare insurance companies an inaccurate impression of the cost of providing effective treatment. This is of particular concern in the internet channel, where the potential for patient neglect is greatest. Providers who sacrifice patient education and follow-up do a great disservice to patients and health care professionals alike.
Decreased patient care hurts patients
Patients who do not use their CPAP therapy are exposed to the same health risks as untreated sleep apnea patients, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and morbid obesity. By delivering appropriate patient care and support, HME providers can help their patients achieve the quality of life and health benefits of CPAP therapy, which can ultimately reduce health care expenses in the long run.