Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Idea

I know the title of this blog might be misleading, but this morning I received a memo from one of the state associations and I was impressed. I have previously written about steps HME providers should take to help our industry fight the competitive bid situation.

The answer is to get all the beneficiaries involved. When properly armed, they will prove to be the most effective way possible to get attention. They vote. Senior citizens today account for about 20% of the population. Lots of votes and, when you include the family caregivers in the total, wow!

They must speak out and also ask their family caregiver to do the same.
There are specific some points they should make, whether they are in one of chosen nine metropolitan regions or not.

When they make contact, they have to express the difficulty they face, or might have to contend with, when finding a new equipment provider. They do not wish to lose the provider they and their family caregiver have worked with closely for many years!

Of course this should be followed by the fact that they do, or will, experience delays in delivery since there will be fewer choices available when they have to locate a dealer elsewhere. Then, the quality of what they receive, since the bid was based on the lowest possible price makes them both frightened and confused.

You should provide them with the toll-free number, (888) 990-0499, and also Web sites where they can report their concerns ( or (

Many of the state associations are working with their members to get this message out. They are all doing a superb job in getting the word out and you must do the same. The associations need the support of each HME provider to become even more effective. If you do not know who to contact to get involved, please call me at (877) 553-5125 and I will give you the name and telephone number. Get on the bandwagon; it is your future that must be protected.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What, When and Why

There comes a time when every entrepreneur has to stop, think and decide which steps are necessary to be taken for the future. We are now early in a new year and see that the “bid’ to provide services for Medicare has started, so I ask you the following:
“What are your plans for this year?”
“When will you start?”
“Why are you doing this?”

The ”why” is obvious. Whether your company was a winner or not, there are many changes that must be put into place. The gross profits allowed to a winner are insufficient to allow any well-run provider to give the same service to their clients as has been done in the past. If your operation has not won a bid, then you must decide how to replace the volume which you will be losing.

As I have tried to point out, via this blog and at Medtrade meetings, OTC cash sales must be increased. Aggressive marketing steps must be instituted. Do not retire any help; send them on the road to visit all referral sources. They know so much about your company and they will be very successful.

Put new operational plans to work. Your company can offer to provide supplies to the practitioners and clinics in your community. Your salespeople can call on the universities and colleges. They can solicit business from the EMTs, fire and police departments. Their supplies, more often than not, are obtained via mail order. These are all sources that can refer new patients to you!

When you will start has to be NOW! Do not wait! Write a new business plan, meet with your employees and speak to all your customers. Offer new products and provide open houses in your showroom. There are so many opportunities available to you. Speak to all your preferred vendors and get new ideas.

If you wish to discuss this with me, please feel free to call me at (877) 553-5127. I have spoken with many successful HME providers over the years and I can share with you many excellent examples.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Time to Take Action

This past week Mrs. Prial and I saw a wonderful performance of the musical “The Man from LaMancha.” As I write this blog I feel like I am fighting windmills.

Miguel de Cervantes is quoted as follows: “Good actions enable us, and we are the sons of our own deeds.” Don Quixote fought to achieve the Impossible Dream. So will you!

HME providers are the last stop and smallest group involved in the provision of health care supplies equipment via Medicare. The Medicare Modernization Act passed by Congress in 2004 is supposed to stop the outflow of dollars. Rather than fully addressing the problem of fraud and abuse they opted to have HME providers bid to become a provider.

HME providers are not the problem. The problem is a major difficulty, which they failed to consider, how to keep the thieves out. When miscreants are caught selling drugs, gambling or prostitution they face long terms in jail when convicted. But when a hospital chain was caught stealing many billions of dollars, they were fined (was $7½ billion sufficient?).

HME providers have the task of getting all of your customers involved. Yes, I know that I have said this often, but it is worth repeating. You must get your clientele involved before they are forced to go elsewhere. There is far too much at stake not to get involved. Send a letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Call or e-mail your Senators and Representatives. Ask your staff to do the same. Please suggest to all your customers to get on the bandwagon before they are driven away to a “winner” with the lowest bid. Contact your state HME association and AAHomecare or NAIMES for help.

We are fighting the windmills, same as Don Quixote did, but if we all work together and not wait for someone else to do it, we will be successful. For ideas and other thoughts please do not hesitate call me (877) 553-5127 and I would be delighted be of any help. As a team, HME providers can win this battle!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Speak Up for Homecare

AAHomecare will be holding a Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, March 16-18. With the need to change some of the egregious laws, it is perhaps the most important opportunity to make your voice heard.

I have had the privilege of attending many of these conferences over the years. They gave me the opportunity to sit and speak with my state senators and representatives. I met their health legislative aides (HLAs) and we developed a strong rapport.

HLAs are your voice to the elected official and they will carry your message. You must make this connection. It is most important to participate in this conference. AAHomecare will make the appointments for you. They will arm you with the proper literature to bring. Members of Congress WILL speak at these sessions. Please put these days into your plans for the future.

If for any reason you cannot attend this conference, then be sure you contact both of your state’s senators and your representative. Send them an e-mail or make a telephone call to speak with their HLA. Make every effort to develop a good relationship with them.

More good news: Medtrade Spring 2011 is scheduled for April 12 – 14 in Las Vegas. Our industry is fighting very hard on behalf of every HME provider. You and your company have to be a participant in all efforts on your behalf. No one else can do it for you! If you need any help contacting the politicians in D.C., more information on the AAH conference or Medtrade Spring, please call me at (877) 553-5127 and I can help you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Resolutions for the HME Industry

We are all prone to doing this, making New Year resolutions, things we plan to do, and then rapidly forgetting them. This year what is facing your company is very different. As the proprietor of an HME business you have to make some new resolutions and must keep them.

Since the major problem now to resolve is how to operate your company and continue growth in a market place that currently is driving recipients of Medicare to winners of a competitive bid. I am sure this outrageous bid legislation will be revoked, but until that happens your voice must be heard.

Here are some resolutions to consider:

Resolution #1: I will support all the efforts of my state association as well as the national one. They carry the battle versus this competitive bid legislation.

Resolution #2: If I am not of member of either my state or a national association, I will call them and provide my support and dollars as they move forward on my behalf.

Resolution #3: I will become more politically active. I will ask my staff and customers to participate with me as I write and call the elected officials in Washington and my state capitol.

These are only a starting point. I will talk about new marketing ideas in coming posts. One goal is to build more OTC cash sales. I will share success stories from providers with you. One major suggestion is to be sure you attend your state and other HME meetings. It is not too early to prepare for Medtrade Spring 2011, which will take place April 12-14 in Las Vegas. That is where you will be able to make the deals, meet the vendors, hear the speakers and arm yourself.

There is so much that you can do so please do not sit by and wait for someone else to do it. You must protect your business so can continue to grow.

Happy New Year

What does the New Year hold for HME providers? Will it be good, bad or indifferent? The answer lies with you.

I have thought for many hours to determine what is in store for our industry. Yes, we realize that there is a major change in how business will function. Reduction in Medicare reimbursement is the first hurdle I see. Changing regulations loom over everyone’s head. Patients will find that as a consequence of the competitive bid legislation they may lose access to their providers of choice and be driven elsewhere.

The above is only a brief summary of what the industry faces. There are several things that all of us must perform to bring about the needed changes. Certainly vox populi, the voice of the people, must be heard. One task facing the industry is to arouse not only all of our customers but all of the citizens in our community to speak out. When we show the dangerous affects of this, then public opinion will be heard.

Your foremost task is to illustrate what your company has done locally. The care and services you provide does not have a dollar value! Ask your clientele to participate in this effort with you to help make the point that service is as important as price. They know and appreciate the many extra steps you take. Family caregivers, local physicians and therapists can all add their words to yours. Everything must be brought to the attention of your Congressmen by a steady flow of letters and calls.

I know this all sounds like “gloom and doom” but that sword hanging over everyone’s heads will not fall when you fight back. We ask that you join forces with your state association and the national ones. Your support and dollars are needed to be sure that you will survive.

We are aware when we all act in unison there is accomplishment. Look at the history of our country and then realize that we must work as a team to reach our goal. Roll up your sleeves and join the fray. These unfair legislations will be changed! It will happen!

What does the New Year hold for the HME industry? My prediction is that we will win! We will have the legislations changed! Our industry is probably the one most important stop for patients and senior citizens. Their voices will be heard as well.

So I send to you all wishes for a very HAPPY and SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR. 2011 will be the best year ever!