Friday, December 30, 2011

Communicate for a Great New Year

What do we mean when we say communication? The dictionary shows many means of communication, all are correct! However for a HME provider, it is one of the best tools available to help the business expand and increase profits.

In a previous post, I spoke about “serious thinking” and recommended that you write a new business plan for 2012. I am sending you something to put into your business plan - a means of communication. This is something that many successful providers do, they communicate.

During my days as a provider I sent out a post card every week to all my customers. This was very inexpensive and I always had an idea to share, a good healthcare tip, an invitation to see a new product and occasionally a single item at a big discount for one week only. I never ran out of ideas.

Today, that is rather expensive and with the great amount of junk mail delivered by the Postal Service, no longer effective. It would get lost with the appeals for contributions, return address labels, magazines, newspapers and so much mo.

But at your fingertips is your computer. This should be filled with a great deal of information known only to you. Use it, not as a blog but as weekly newsletter. The title should show your company name; e.g.: John and Mary Jones DME Weekly Newsletter.

Keep them brief, large pica (16 or 18), some humor, a picture if possible and your telephone number. As your customers get accustomed to receiving this they will pass them on to neighbors. Invite your staff members to write some for you. This brings the company closer to the customer.

Make the New Year, 2012, your best year by planning and communicating!

Thursday, December 22, 2011






And all the wonderful
folks who make this
so much fun for me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays

Every year at this time, I stop to review the happenings of the year. The holiday season is upon us and the excitement and the passion leading to these exciting days are wonderful. The services at your houses of worship, the family dinners, and the exchange of good wishes and presents are unequaled.

Many eons ago I had a meeting with the dean of my college and a minister. From this meeting, I learned a unique and helpful way of approaching the coming year. I have followed their advice from that day forward and it has always proven to be correct.

Simply it is the following:

Find a quiet spot where you can just sit by yourself and review in your mind all the last year’s activities – nothing personal, but all business-oriented. Then, take a pen in hand and write down all of the successful promotions as well of those that did not go so well. Check that every employee has performed their best or the times in which they disappointed you. Study each of your vendors and the cooperation they gave you.

Be honest with yourself. No one else will see or be aware of what you record. Write these all down. You must have the courage to include the “bad” with the “good.” Then set it aside for a day or two.

When you reopen all of your notes, then you can prepare a new business plan for 2012. I have recommended this to many friends and HME associates. I have done this all my life and am very proud of some of my accomplishments. But I am even prouder of reports I have received from my friends who have done the same.

So I wish that the Blessings of the Holidays be shared by all and to all a HAPPY NEW YEAR. AMEN !!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Opportunities in Telehealth

Telehealth is a fascinating opportunity for HME providers to investigate. I have written on this subject several times and feel that it is so important that I am doing it again.

The future for the health care industry may very well be based on how much of an effect telehealth has and, as we look at it today, it appears that there is a future for HME providers.

I have heard speakers at Medtrade explain the importance of telehealth and how it can be marketed. They all point out the role of the HME provider.

Physicians, nurses, and technicians, as well as family caregivers and many other members of the health care team, require current information to best care for their patients. Telehealth services can provide that to them and your company can be in the mix.

A very brief description is that the patient can daily, or as often required, use telehealth devices and send their vital signs instantly to their physician. For example, the patient can use their blood pressure cuff, spirometer, scale, blood glucose monitor, EKG and other equipment currently available. By himself or herself or with the aid of a family caregiver, they can affix the equipment and in seconds the reports are forwarded.

You should contact some of the telehealth product manufacturers and see if your company can become one of their team. VNAs, home health agencies, physicians and other healthcare services will be very pleased to discover that you can provide these tools.

Don’t miss this opportunity. Don’t put it off for tomorrow – take the first step now and see how you can become the provider of telehealth in your market. If you don’t, your competition will.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Who Else?

The HME industry is similar to most all industries. There are winners – I know many success stories, as you all do, in which entrepreneurs have reached a pinnacle. Also, there are some who just earn their daily bread and those who fall by the wayside.

Every industry is affected by legislations, taxes and many restrictions. HME is unique and somewhat different. Unlike a department store that sells a product and the purchaser pays cash or uses a credit card and the transaction is completed, our industry’s ways of getting paid are different. Yes, providers do get paid for their services – some with cash but most from third-party sources.

Almost all healthcare services and products require an ID, a social security number, a Medicare card or other insurance proof. I looked in my wallet and counted five different cards. This is typical for almost every senior citizen.

Most of healthcare in the United States is paid by and under the supervision of the government. It is a form of socialized medicine. The system is so poorly controlled and as a consequence fraud and abuse are milking out mega dollars. This is the number one problem which must be resolved.

Reducing reimbursements and competitive bidding for lower prices are not an answer. The thieves will survive no matter how much legislation is passed. Who else faces this dilemma? All HME providers, pharmacists, and just about every healthcare provider do.

Federal and state regulations are constantly being updated and changed. To stay up to date and aware, it is imperative that you stay involved in national and state associations. Every HME provider must not only be a member, but they should be on the phone calling every other provider and telling them why the importance of working together is how you will be able to stay in business. There is far too much at a stake for you. Do not allow the business you have poured hours of sweat and dollars to be squeezed out.

Who else can do this for you? No one else! Therefore, need I say any more?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let's Work Together to Defeat Competitive Bidding

Where will this go? I am a registered pharmacist and have stayed in communication with NCPA and other similar groups. I read and study their industry publications same as I do ours. They all are concerned about the competitive bidding program. Perhaps I should say “frightened” by it.

Pharmacists feel they will no longer be capable of providing supplies and service to diabetes patients. The cost and greatly reduced reimbursement for those related products are not sufficient to cover their overhead. How often have HME providers said the same?

We all have to work together – that includes HME providers, pharmacists, nursing services, and therapists – and everyone that is involved must develop one strong voice.

Can we put an end to competitive bidding for medical supplies? Yes. A great number of dollars has been spent to get HR 0141 become a reality. About 165 representatives have put their names on as co-sponsors. We need many more. If 90% of the DME/HME dealers would become active members of both their state and national associations, the organizations would have more clout to influence the Congressmen.

Why will this happen? VOTES! VOTES! Without being elected they will no longer be in Congress. HME providers and pharmacists know and work closely with their customers and family caregivers. They all vote.

With the information the associations provide, you can get all your customers and their families to know who is on their team. VOTES can often be more valuable than dollars. Without votes they are out of office. So please use your tremendous strength.

Simply join. You can no longer stand-alone and make things happen. We can and must get rid of competitive bidding.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Need Your Input

There are many things happening that can affect HME providers. It is now imperative that we all work together to protect our company, employees, clientele and our country. In the next few blogs I will try to address each.

1. How will the inability of the special Congressional committee of six to resolve the trillions of dollar debt hurt our industry?
2. Power wheelchairs
3. RAC audits
4. Competitive bidding
5. The role of the HME provider

There are so many problems we can address. Please notice I said we. The five “problems” I have listed above will just be a peek into the future. I need your input. If you have any pet peeves, please email them to me at or call me (877) 553-5127. I doubt that I can solve any of these, but be assured I will express my thoughts and we can share approaches, thoughts ideas and get some more ACTION going.
I have shared this quote from Doctor Seuss with my children and my grandchildren. I want to share it with all of you. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”

Many of the problems facing our industry can be resolved if we, as a team, gather our forces into one powerful voice. I realized that at the Medtrade meeting in Atlanta a few weeks ago. I cannot tell you how impressive it was visiting the many booths and seeing the efforts each of them are addressing to Congress and Medicare. The goal is to get both to understand the role of the HME provider.

They do not recognize the service and the care senior citizens and beneficiaries receive. Much of the service is pro-bono and all of that would disappear if the providers and dealers were forced out of business. Congressmen receive a healthy salary and a fantastic retirement. HME providers, on the other hand, eke out a very small reimbursement and they are trying to further reduce that. We must act, today is OUR day!

If all of the buying groups, national and state associations would sit down and work together to organize the entire industry, what a voice that would create! When I see how much money each of them are spending, I then become very aware that if that money was all in one pot, how much further it would go!

The AMA, AHA, pharmaceutical manufacturers, lawyers, every industry, except HME/HME has banded together but our voice is not heard, it is too soft.
Now all I can say is our industry has very fine people, erudite and understanding and they can do for us what the others do. So… get on OUR way.
We can become a powerful and effective voice for every senior citizen, family caregiver and patient. Let’s do it, OUR mountain is waiting.