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The Importance of Outcome Measurement in COPD - Part 2

Posted on in Product and Service Solutions

By Dave Lyman, RRT, Vice President, VGM Respiratory

As an HME provider, you've probably asked yourself—"How can I do more than just deliver respiratory equipment to COPD patients?" Or, "How can I be a part of the new health care continuum with Accountable Care Organizations, Shared Savings Programs or Population Health Programs?"

HME providers must be open to these questions and realize that as providers, we can show value, having these patients on our service for the rest of their life. We have to realize that we must collect, measure and analyze data—especially for the COPD population. This population is growing, causing hospitals huge penalties due to the hospital readmission reduction program from Medicare. This not only costs the hospital, but also increases the cost to other managed care payers.

Now, I know the next question you’re probably thinking—"Why should I do this if I’m not paid for managing this patient population?"  If you believe that your organization can make a difference in the COPD population's lives and want to be a part of the future of health care, you should strike this question from your mind. Yes, some companies are being paid for these services. How? They have collected the data and have proven that they have a comprehensive transitional care program for the COPD patients in their respective communities.

In our community, we’re still in the beginning stages of letting hospitals and payers see the full value of what HME providers can do. We still have to prove it. To do so, we need to continue to collect data, build individualized care pathways and monitor COPD patients over time.

Here are a few thoughts on comprehensive COPD programs:

  • The need for a database and software to collect data
  • Respiratory driven protocols and algorithms to develop an individualized care plan
  • Need to have a risk assessment to determine the acuity of the patient (CAT, QOL, Gold)
  • Have a protocol for follow up (visits vs. calls)
  • Clinical assessments
  • Education material
  • Individual reports or group reports (for hospital or payer)

Whatever program you have or need to develop, it must be goal-based and help drive the patient to functional improvement and a better understanding of their role with COPD.

VGM has some partners that have already developed a comprehensive COPD outcomes program. Stay tuned for part three of this series, when we discuss Encore HealthCare’s and Lifetouch’s COPD outcome programs in detail. And, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one in our outcomes series.