August 14, 2023

VUMC’s DME commercial subsidiary primed for growth

Durable medical equipment provider Carefluent Connect is poised for rapid growth.

Carefluent Connect has storefront locations for durable medical equipment services in Nashville and Mount Juliet.
Carefluent Connect has storefront locations for durable medical equipment services in Nashville and Mount Juliet.

Carefluent Connect, LLC, was launched in early 2021 by Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, providing what the health care industry terms durable medical equipment (DME) used by patients in their homes on a daily basis.

The company is poised for rapid growth and, according to its vice president, Ron Graham, is primed to serve a greater portion of the DME prescriptions written at VUMC.

“As a DME provider we support continuity of care and quality of life for patients returning home from the hospital, as well as for outpatients with DME needs,” Graham said. “We work with health care providers across the region, but we’re especially integrated with Vanderbilt’s health care system, prioritizing user orientation and convenience and offering seamless ordering, delivery and support services.”

As one example of that integration with VUMC, the company offers a Vanderbilt University Hospital patient delivery program patterned on the pharmacy’s Meds to Beds program, whereby pharmacists deliver outpatient medications to inpatients approaching hospital discharge. To facilitate DME delivery in VUH, Carefluent maintains a mini warehouse in the basement of The Vanderbilt Clinic. Geared to help support VUH discharge by 11 a.m., the DME to Beds program, as it’s called, will roll out to all other hospitals in the VUMC system over the next 12 months, Graham said.

When prescribed by a clinician, DME is typically covered by health insurance, and accordingly, Carefluent Connect is subject to health care industry accreditation and state licensure. The company is nearing the end of an unexpectedly lengthy process of securing initial contracts with health care insurers across the region. Graham said that, with 30 employees, Carefluent is currently serving around 1,000 patients per month, with capacity to serve many more.

Among the company’s current offerings are items such as wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines (continuous positive airway pressure), orthotics, urology and ostomy supplies, continuous glucose monitors and compression stockings. In January 2024 they’ll add insulin pumps.

The company offers home delivery and setup, as well as walk-in DME services through storefront locations at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks in Nashville and at 60 Athletes Way North in Mount Juliet, with the latter location also housing the company’s warehouse and headquarters. Through the Vanderbilt University Hospital gift shop, Carefluent also makes available certain products not considered DME by insurance companies.

Graham said the company has been meeting with representatives of VUMC service lines and with the VUH Transition Management Office to understand DME needs, improve services and coordinate with new clinics as they open.

“Currently, many DME prescriptions written by VUMC clinicians are going to outside companies,” he said. “Now that our managed care contract portfolio has expanded to be able to service more than 75% of VUMC’s patient population, we are poised to be a strong provider in this space, offering patients a solution that will immediately meet their needs, with personalized education from our trained team members.

“Carefluent was established to help provide patients the high level of quality care and service that they’ve come to expect from Vanderbilt. We are focused on their needs at home, to assist with their recovery and overall well-being.”

VUMC employees can receive a 20% discount on custom shoe inserts. To schedule an appointment for a fitting, call Carefluent Connect at 615-322-3010. For more information, see the Carefluent Connect website.