Article originally featured on HME News
You know me, you’ve heard me say it before—wound care is important for all DMEPOS providers because every patient has skin, and skin health affects each of us. The skin is our largest organ. Not only does it protect us against the ever-changing environment, it also maintains our integrity. Without proper treatment to lacerations, surgical incisions, burns and injuries, the “wound” could lead to life threatening consequences. All providers see patients who are prone to skin issues because of co-morbidities, surgeries or advanced age.
If you can’t tell, I’m trying to make the case that everyone should be in wound care. If you haven’t considered expanding or elevating your business with wound care, you should. It’s human nature to shy away from wounds, and you may not know what to ask or how to get started (VGM Wound Care can help with that). But your patients have health issues which put them at an increased risk for skin breakdown. Respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, diabetics, and para- and quadriplegics are just a few of the conditions that increase the risk for skin breakdown and wounds. The hard part is done—you are already taking care of the patient…why not take care of the entire patient?
Start small with wound care by choosing one category and building on it. Wound care is typically broken down into five categories when we are looking at the DMEPOS provider and what they provide:
Wound care dressings
Unsure of which category would be best for your business? Start by asking questions. Talk to your patients and ask: Who is currently providing you with wound care dressings, lotion, compression, diabetic supplies, etc.?
Next, probe your current referral sources. Places to start include:
Home health agencies
Wound care clinics
Long-term care facilities
Ambulatory/outpatient surgery centers
Good questions to ask those referral sources are: Who are you currently using for dressings, NPWT, nutritional supplementation, etc.? What do you like about the product and services they provide? What don’t you like?
Talking with your patients and their referral sources, along with market analysis and research, will provide you with the necessary information you need to make a sound decision about expanding into wound care. Look to see where the gaps are and ask yourself if you’re willing and able to fill them. If you answer yes to these questions, wound care would be a great avenue to pursue. For the best chance at success, assign a team member to lead this department or category. Generally, this person would have a sales and marketing background in the key area you are looking to expand.
Payer mix and profitability
After identifying the growth opportunity, determine your payer mix next. Who are you going to bill? Medicare? Private insurance? Contract with a long-term care facility? Perhaps it’s a combination of them. This is a big decision to make. Make sure to check out the VGM Wound Care Guide for a full breakdown when considering your payer mix. After you decide, you’ll only have a little paperwork to do.
Wound care can be profitable in every category. To give you an example: With NPWT, the pump is the main revenue source (it’s a rental product). One pump generally costs around $2,000. The Medicare fee schedule—depending on state, rural, non-rural, and the point of service—can vary from $800 to $1,400 per month per patient. The average length of stay for one patient on negative pressure is 45 days (two-month billing cycle). You could have one pump paid for after one patient. The disposables that are billed with the pump (A6550 – kits and A7000 – canisters) are generally reimbursed at what they cost, though.
Don’t panic. Reach out for help
Let’s pause. That is a lot of information. And yes, it will take some work on your part. Don’t panic—VGM Wound Care can help every step of the way. The members-only portal on vgm.com is full of resources to help you, including forms, policies, procedures, profitability calculators, and full guides on how to be successful in wound care.
Being part of VGM Wound Care also provides you with a group of colleagues and mentors to help you throughout the process. This includes vendor partners who will help keep you competitive in the market you choose to enter. VGM Wound Care has the tools, solutions, and resources for you to thrive in the wound care market.
Start by talking with your patients, you’ll soon find out that you could be in the wound care market, providing supplies and equipment to your patients and taking care of all their healthcare needs at home.