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3 Ways One Health Care Company Empowers Local Providers to Deliver Better Care

As an intermediary between payers, providers and DME manufacturers, this member service organization is going above and beyond to give independent providers the tools they need to succeed.
By: | November 16, 2020

It is well known that both clinical and claim outcomes benefit from holistic, patient-centered care. Whether it’s workers’ comp, general liability, or commercial health insurance, the focus at the end of the day is returning the patient to maximum functionality and health.

Often, delivering that care extends beyond the four hospital walls. After discharge, patients may require post-acute services like durable medical equipment, home health care, physical therapy, wound care, respiratory care or custom rehabilitation equipment. Providers of these ancillary services are critical stepping stones in a patient’s path toward recovery.

“We serve very diverse patient populations and communities, and still believe all health care is local,” said Cole Herstam, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Homelink, a VGM Group company.

“The problem is that local, independent ancillary health care providers can find it tough to compete with larger, national providers with more experience contracting with regional and national payers. Without connections to the payer community, these providers miss out on opportunities to treat local patients, and patients may miss out on opportunities to work with smaller, high quality providers in their community. As the managed care contracting and patient servicing division of VGM Group, HOMELINK connects patients and payers with these providers.”

Here’s how Homelink fills that role:

1) Ensuring product availability and speed through manufacturer partnerships.

Cole Herstam, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Homelink

DMEPOS manufacturers often have contracts in place with large payers and provider groups that promise priority access to products — usually at a discount. Through the Member Service Organization (MSO) arm of the VGM Group, local providers leverage VGM’s relationships and buying power with those same manufacturers to procure the products and services needed to stock their shelves and operate their businesses.

Working as a central intermediary that connects local providers to the resources they need to compete has benefits for patients, payers, and those providers, as well as every other link in the health care value chain. When the ultimate focus is on enabling the best care possible for patients, everyone wins.

“As a buying group, VGM has relationships with manufacturers. But in many cases, the relationship goes well beyond buying product. For example, through VGM Fulfillment, another VGM division, we provide outsourced fulfillment services on behalf of several large manufacturers. We help them manage distribution and inventory levels. Additionally, our patients, payers and providers can rely on our experience and product knowledge as a truly integrated piece of the supply chain” Herstam said.

“Our unique insight into the market allows us to monitor product availability and source product much better than less integrated companies. For patients and providers, this equates to consistent, prompt access to the equipment and supplies they need,” Herstam said. “Ultimately, this access translates to better care.”

2) Investing in cutting edge solutions for higher quality care.

Part of delivering quality care is looking toward the future. New treatment modalities and equipment are always in the works and getting in on the ground floor ensures early access to innovative solutions for local providers and the patients they serve.

Again, drawing on the resources of VGM Group, Homelink selectively invests in new products that promise advantages for its member providers, patients and payers.

Take, for example, a new wound care system called EO2. The most prevalent form of wound care equipment today uses negative pressure to keep wounds clean and promote healing. That equipment usually involves a series of vacuums and sponges that limits patient mobility and uses a large quantities of high cost disposables.

EO2 sidesteps these problems by using constant oxygen flow instead of negative pressure.

“It simply uses airflow directly over the wound, and a key advantage is it brings the wound to full closure. And because it is small — roughly the size of a cell phone — it’s not cumbersome for patients to adhere to their treatment regimen,” Herstam said.

Recognizing the potential of this new system, Homelink made early investments in the product and supported the execution of several double-blinded studies to demonstrate efficacy. The result is early access to a superior product for providers, better outcomes for patients, and lower costs for payers.

“With one of our investments, we’ve identified a strong use case for distributed ledger (blockchain) technology and are currently developing a payer consortium around it. In another, we’ve partnered with a company that has developed a next generation remote physiological monitoring system,” Herstam said. “Any product that could benefit one of the different communities that we’re involved with is certainly a candidate for us to look at.”

3) Identifying opportunities through data-driven market insights.

Every company wants the ability to spot growth opportunities as they emerge. Independent providers, however, are at a disadvantage if they don’t have the data or analytical capabilities to identify those prospects.

Another division of VGM helps to fill that gap as an exclusive distributor of national payment data.

“Whether it’s Medicare, commercial health, workers compensation or auto, we leverage proprietary data sets. Our data analysts parse through them and can a deliver meaningful, actionable insights,” Herstam said.

“For example, if you’re a sleep and respiratory care provider interested in working with XYZ Insurance, you might want to know how much they are reimbursing for CPAPs. We can mine the data and tell you which manufacturer or vendor the payer likely prefers and what they are paying. If they want to pursue a partnership with that insurer, we might encourage them to position their offering in a certain way.”

Similarly, payers can gauge how their spend in a product category compares with their market or even competitive plans. This may influence vendor choices or highlight ways to enhance their in-network benefit.

Ultimately, the data empowers companies to make informed and strategic decisions that improve their position in the marketplace.

The Power of Community and Ownership Mentality

As a company that serves patients, payers and providers, it’s reasonable to ask the question, ‘What does HOMELINK gain from being part of a company offering such a variety of services to these distinct stakeholders?’

The answer to that question is – expertise and insight. It helps them link together all stakeholders in pursuit of the same goal: high quality and cost-effective patient care.

“Any time HOMELINK offers a service or VGM Group invests in a new product, we’re not just interested in what it’s going to mean inside our four walls. We think about what it will mean to the thousands of providers who are members of the MSO, the patients we service and the wide variety of plans we work with,” Herstam said.

“Over 60% of the independent providers in the U.S. marketplace, whether they be for home medical equipment, orthotics and prosthetics, wound care, women’s health, respiratory, complex rehab, etc. — they belong to our member service organization and benefit from being part of the VGM community.”

Another key piece of the puzzle is VGM and Homelink’s status as a 100% employee-owned entity (ESOP).

“That ownership mentality matters. When people visit our campus, they can feel the energy and dedication of our people. It comes through when talking to one of our associates on the phone or meeting them in person. They are truly are engaged in our mission and dedicated to offering solutions to the patients, providers and plans that we serve,” Herstam said.

To learn more about VGM and Homelink’s services, visit https://www.vgmhomelink.com/.



This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with HOMELINK. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

HOMELINK is an innovative, national provider of integrated ancillary services to the healthcare and workers compensation industries.

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