DME Providers: Serving the Hospice Market and the Hospice Patient with Quality Care
$15.1 BILLION. This was the approximate cost, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), for more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries to receive hospice services from more than 4,000 DME providers in 2014 alone.
The current growth in the number and proportion of older adults in our population is unprecedented in the history of the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Increasing American lifespan and the number of aging baby boomers are two factors that are contributing to the doubling of the population of Americans aged 65 years or older during the next 25 years — to a staggering 72 million. A significant percentage of this population unfortunately will at some point also need hospice services.
For DME providers who deliver and service equipment at hospice facilities, this trend illustrates an opportunity for increased business in terms of equipment and support. It’s important to consider, though, the mix of perceptions and emotions that underlay the type of care and equipment preferred by hospice patients and their families.
Quality of Care and Equipment is Magnified During Hospice Stays
The hospice market is growing at a faster pace than ever before, due to the increasing prevalence of disease among our nation’s rapidly growing, aging population. In tandem, the rapid expansion of hospice is in part a function of evolving cultural attitudes about dying, according to the Huffington Post.
The terminally ill and their families prefer to see their loved ones experiencing a humane, comfortable and painless passing – either in the home or a hospice center – rather than a hospital.
If it was your loved one, wouldn’t you want the same for them as well? That’s why the care setting means so much during a hospice stay, as well as the quality of care and equipment provided to that loved one.
Family members realize their time together is short when hospice enters the conversation. During that time, they want the highest level of comfort and care available for their loved one who is entering the end stage of life, and that’s perfectly understandable.
Providing Superior Care within the Hospice Environment
Hospice is commonly known as the place that provides end-of-life care for patients and support services for their families.
In a hospice setting, a team of healthcare professionals provide both medical and psychological support for seriously-ill patients predicted to survive for six months or less.
Hospice services can be carried out at:
- hospice facilities,
- hospital settings, and
- skilled nursing facilities.
However, most patients and families prefer home hospice care or hospice facilities that offer a more residential feel than hospital or skilled nursing facilities. That comfort-of-home preference is fueling the demand for an increasing number of large, multi-state hospice chains serving as the primary source for end-of-life care in the United States. We see the evidence of that demand in the reimbursement numbers. According to MedPAC, Medicare expenditures for hospice care have increased by 15% since 2012.
DME Providers who supply hospice facilities and their 200,000+ patients must consider their quality of products delivered, due to family preference for superior care.
With the intent of growing patient census, hospice chains are continually seeking to show patients and their families that they can provide the best quality of end-stage life via:
- the products used within the facility,
- the appearance of their renovated, upscale facilities, and
- the comforting services they provide during those last end-stage days.
The competitiveness within the marketplace is causing hospice chains to focus more and more on multiple strategies and opportunities to grow their patient census, while using the above-mentioned methods to differentiate their services.
Families Agree, Quality is Better in End Stage Situations
Most families value comfort for their loved one who is bedridden — all day, every day. A comfortable hospital bed that is easy for the caretaker to use and provides the ultimate mattress support is critical for patient well-being as well as comfort.
When you strive to provide comfort through the equipment you deliver, you are simultaenously delivering peace of mind the family, as they can be assured their loved one has equipment will work properly — thereby avoiding unnecessary stress to the family that often arises with inferior, unreliable products.
Graham-Field provides a wide variety of quality options to choose from in serving hospice settings with these products and equipment. See our Hospice Brochure for more recommendations to improve hospice patient safety and comfort.
Graham-Field Offers Complimentary Facility Planning + Design Services
Supporting the increase in the number of healthcare facilities doing complete renovations, Graham-Field also offers complimentary Interior Design Services, to assist in upgrading the facility with modern conveniences such as common areas, children’s play areas, and comfortable seating environments for the families spending so much time there.
And, contact us for more suggestions on how DME Providers can partner with hospice chains to better serve and participate in patient care for a loved one’s last days — when quality and value of care matter the most.
Cynthia Counts is Vice President of Product Management & Homecare SBU at Graham-Field.
About GF Health Products, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700.