VUMC launches new medical equipment company Carefluent ConnectMar. 3, 2021, 3:08 PM
by Paul Govern
After two years of planning and regulatory approvals, Vanderbilt University Medical Center is launching a durable medical equipment (DME) company, Carefluent Connect, LLC.
On March 1, the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of VUMC opened a retail storefront amid clinics at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, at 719 Thompson Lane, Nashville. The company is starting with 10 full-time employees. According to Teresa Dail, RN, chief supply chain officer at VUMC and president of Carefluent Connect, the company will soon open a combined warehouse and second retail location in nearby Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
DME is any medical equipment used in the home, from walkers, wheelchairs and hospital beds to CPAP machines, oxygen tents and blood sugar meters. When prescribed by a clinician, DME typically is covered by health insurance.
Starting with patients of VUMC, the company plans to roll out a bedside distribution and patient education service modeled on Meds to Beds, the program whereby VUMC pharmacists deliver discharge prescriptions and counseling to patients at the bedside prior to discharge.
“The other very cool thing that we’ve been able to do, working with Health IT, is implement a technology that will allow us to document patient education and feed the information back into the medical record,” Dail said. “Not only will the provider know that the patient got the supplies or equipment that they needed — something they generally wouldn’t have known — but they’ll also know that the patient education was completed and documented in the record.”
The company will also deliver equipment to patients in their homes.
Two systems will talk to each other: to order DME from within the electronic health record, VUMC clinicians will use a third-party software add-on, and Carefluent Connect staff will use a separate app to document patient education and order completion. Dail will encourage other DME providers serving VUMC patients to also link their documentation to the VUMC electronic health record.
“Nothing like this exists today here at VUMC,” she said. “The whole vision of Carefluent Connect is to try to fill gaps in serving the needs of patients. When a clinician deems that home equipment or supplies are required, and a patient chooses us to provide the service, we’ll ensure continuity of care no matter where the patient is.
“If this doesn’t make health care personal,” Dail said, “I don’t know what does. Hopefully, this will also help reduce complications and unexpected hospital readmission and lower the overall cost of care.”
Carefluent Connect is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Health Care and licensed by the state of Tennessee. Upon impending federal clearance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the company will be able to bill health insurance companies and will begin delivering DME to patients.
The company will conduct a pilot with providers at the Vanderbilt Health Sleep Disorders Center. Dail estimates that services will roll out to VUMC’s main campus over the next six months, first to emergency departments and clinics, then to inpatient areas. Then it’s on to VUMC’s outlying hospitals and to providing services for patients from outside VUMC.