Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring in the New Year! Part 1



Are you ready? Tempus Fugit! If you have made all arrangements for 2013, written a new business plan, and shared all of the scheduled activities with your staff, then you are prepared.


I chatted with two DME/HME principals this morning and if every dealer showed the same enthusiasm I just heard, 2013 will be a superb year.

I have listened to all the negative voices. Each of these comes from people with a loaf of bread under each arm and a pocket filled with money. Yes, they complain. It is time to change one’s attitude from a minus to a plus! Now is when you should be building for your best year. 2013, this New Year, has the voltage to light up every DME/HME operation. But this will be only if you make it happen!

I just read in my local newspaper that the unemployment rate could go down to less than six percent. This will be a major step forward. Every indication is that the efforts being made in Congress will dramatically reduce the national debt. Banks have slowly begun to increase loans to small business and this alone will mean more jobs and better growth.

The two dealers I chatted with today were telling me some of the thoughts they have for the coming year. They each have researched their market and found new opportunities from which they could build. When I listen to principals with this type of confidence in the future, I am aware changes for the better are here.

If you have not done so yet, please prepare your entry into year 2013. What new plans have you created? HAPPY NEW YEAR and 2013 will be the best ever for you!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Enthusiasm


I receive close to 200 e-mails daily and an equal number come in as SPAM. It appears the whole world has forgotten how to use other means of communication. It is clear to see that even when we go out to eat just look at how many people are looking into their hand held telephones.  Well, that’s the new way.


A couple of weeks back, I received a most pleasant surprise while opening my e-mails. It was in a communication from the HME Industry News Summary, which is put out by Rick Worstell and the HMG Group, called “ENTHUSIASM”. The author of it may be unknown, but the message is pertinent. “Enthusiasm is the greatest business asset in the world.”

"Enthusiasm is the greatest business asset in the world. It beats money and power and influence. Single handed, enthusiasm convinces and dominates where a small army of workers would hardly raise a tremor of interest. Enthusiasm is faith in action; and faith and initiative rightly combined remove mountainous barriers and achieve the unheard of and miraculous. Set the germ of enthusiasm in your business; carry it in your attitude and manner; it spreads like contagion and influences every fiber of your industry; it begets and inspires effects you did not dream of; it means increase in production and decrease in costs; it means joy and pleasure and satisfaction to your workers; it means real life and virile; it means spontaneous bedrock results-the vital things that pay dividends."
-Author Unknown

I prefer to describe it differently. I say, “It is the difference between success and failure.”

Rather than quote from the article, I want to recall what I heard from DME/HME providers. In an article that I did for HomeCare Magazine, I quoted comments from attendees at the Fall Medtrade.

These comments were all filled with much “enthusiasm".  This feeling is typical of our industry!  The entrepreneurs bring their eagerness and interest with them. They share this with all their clientele and it is so appreciated, particularly by family caregivers.

As we approach a new year we must all bring all the eloquence possible to make the future brighter and more successful. Yes indeed, enthusiasm is the key for you!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holidays Ahead!


The holidays are just around the corner. Use this time to relax, enjoy seeing friends and family and then contemplate in the next couple of weeks what you can do in 2013.

Your first thoughts have to be about your current operation, which includes the company, staff, and clientele. Think about what you will do to expand your bottom line with higher profits.

In a previous blog was a reminder to be sure you have already enrolled for the Spring Medtrade in Las Vegas. So many new surprises and opportunities will be found there. I have been monitoring the show and can tell you how impressed I am with what is ahead!

In anticipation of attending Medtrade Spring, do the following. Write a business plan for 2013. It will not be graded and if you take the time, I know you will be rewarded.

Do a careful review of the past year activities to determine which disciplines brought in the best profits (and those that did not). Begin from the weakest link to see why it did not produce as much as you anticipated. Realize where sales were down and why that happened.  Armed with that information, you can make corrections to prevent that from happening again.

Study every segment of your sales to see where OTC cash sales products are available. This can become a goal for Medtrade. Build from your base and continue to grow. This can be a most constructive time. It really makes a difference! The ROI for the time and effort in preparing this as a new “business plan” will never be better. This effort makes attending Medtrade so vital!

It is important to share your thoughts with all your employees. Their enthusiasm will be found on the bottom line annually. Make this Holiday season work for you!

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Warmest Wishes for a happy Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Medtrade Spring is Around the Corner!


The dates for the Spring Medtrade 2013 Exhibition are from March 19 to March 21.  I am very aware with the holidays pending, Medtrade is the furthest thing on your mind. However as DME/HME providers, dealers and manufacturers, none of us have the luxury to just sit back and let things happen.

Rather than observe, since you are all aware that 2013 can be the most critical year our industry has ever faced, you must act! Being negative does not have to be the case. Do not be a spectator, hoping for the best, takes charge of your future and make it the best!



Commit now to attend Medtrade Spring. See how many admission tickets you require and obtain them STAT.  Book your accommodations today and get the choice of rooms. After early registration you should plan which exhibitors you have to see. At Medtrade deals are always made that will enable you to guide your company through 2013. OTC cash sales potential must be on the top of your list.

You can do what I always did prior to attending Medtrade. As manufacturer reps called, I asked them to arrange appointments for me at Medtrade. In that fashion, I always met with the president or sales manager.   This gave my company the ability to negotiate more and better promotions. They are always so amenable! As a consequence, with their cooperation, sales and profits grew to our mutual satisfaction.  You can even use some of the features Medtrade has put into place online for planning meetings.  Once you register, try the Medtrade Connect Program to plan your time at the convention.

My experience has taught me there is no better venue when the opportunity to meet and arrange with preferred vendors. You can develop additional market share.

In future blogs I will speak about the multitude of different activities in which you can participate at Medtrade. http://www.medtrade.com

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas is Coming!


Deck the halls with signs and greetings; it’s the season to be jolly?  Yes, now is the season!  Today, start promoting during this mad rush prior to the holidays to purchase correct gifts. It appears that too many folks are unaware of what DME/HME dealers offer; many comfort items for Mom, Pop, or any relative.

Somehow, we neglect to show our clientele there are so many items on our show room floor that make lovely gifts and will be greatly appreciated.  One entrepreneur in the Snow Belt ran a special Christmas Gift sale offering a choice of several different heating pads.  How well did he do?  When is the last time you sold close to four dozen heating pads in a two-week period?

Another sharp businessman, in upstate N.Y., offered free installation for two weeks only before Christmas for a “ride a stair unit”.  Those parts of New York homes are mostly two stories and although he displayed them in his showroom, sales averaged about only about five or six annually. He installed four during in the two-week period and received an order for another to be installed in January.

Instead of show and sell, perhaps “shout and sell” would be more effective.  In Missouri, where the winters can be rather “cold” (I know because I lived in Missouri for a number of years) a sharp dealer had a good idea. He took advantage of the weather and made arrangements to sell electric room heaters.  He located one that is lightweight and used a small amount of electricity, but warmed up a room rather quickly. This was not an item he normally sold, but made arrangements with the manufacturer to sell them for the holidays. He told me he did very well!

Do a careful review of the type items you sell, where the bulk of your sales emanate from, and then seek out OTC cash sale items. Make it a Merry Christmas for your clientele, your staff and yourself.

It is all a matter of knowing your clientele, their needs and matching a suitable OTC cash sale products.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Hesitate.... Participate!





Do not hesitate! Register now for Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas! Things have never been as critical for our industry as they are today! Your livelihood, as well as that of your clientele who depend on you, is at stake. Between now and Medtrade Spring-March 19-21, too many changes are happening and all of which must be monitored. At Medtrade, the experts that help guide our industry are standing together to keep our industry moving in the right direction.

Medicare and Medicaid are restructuring how they will control costs and distribution.  As for Medicare, we must get HR 6490 out of committee and on to the floor so it can be passed, or we will choke even further with the competitive bid legislation. We also have to work to bring about some very vital changes in the HR 6490 to make it more effective. None of this can happen until it gets to the House floor. 



The State DME Associations, the National Associations, NAIMES, VGM, MED Group and all the allied operations will be at Medtrade. We want to be sure that every DME/HME provider or dealer is on board and ready to join forces. By working together, our industry will succeed. 

It's a critical year for the HME industry, and the feedback will help us make adjustments to what likely will be the most important Medtrade show in our 30-plus-year history,"  said Attorney Jeffrey Baird. 

When you recognize difficult problems that are approaching and the answers attendees will receive, then participating in Medtrade becomes even more valuable.

Please notice I use the term “participating” not “attending".  Since I am one of the few who have had the good fortune to attend every Medtrade Exhibition, I can say the following: For many years in the past, Medtrade was considered a holiday. Members brought their wives, employees, and children. That was the way it was then, but not the case now. Our industry must develop a much more organized answer to maintain what we have.  At Medtrade, you will accomplish many of your goals by “PARTICIPATING".

Need I say more? This is why I am sending you advance notice. Sign on now and be sure to bring with your key staff.

Visit www.medtrade.com to register for Medtrade Spring.  Discounted rates are still available.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fighting Obesity


There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that too many Americans are overweight. Is there a way for a DME/HME dealer to lead the battle against obesity?

Yes! You help your customers struggling with their weight and at the same time build your company. Here is one way to easily accomplish it. It takes time and planning to get all the different people and tools together to work this but the reward will be great.

Fighting ObesityAn idea came to a DME owner who saw there was an evening course given at the local college about “diet and weight.” He made it a point to meet the lecturer. She was a dietitian and when asked if she would like to participate in the program he was planning, she jumped at the opportunity! The dietician thought working with his program, instead of 25 people attending her lectures, she could double that number.  The second person he invited was a popular physician who was delighted to be solicited.  Again, the doctor felt that “word of mouth” after participating would reflect well for him and he would be able to help more people in need. Finally, he spoke with the sales representative for the line of scales sold in his store.

The plan was for a Saturday morning. The sales rep spoke to his company and they decided that since the dealer was ordering two-dozen scales, they offered to bring several others, which included a physician’s scale.

Together they chose the day. They called it “FIGHT OBESITY DAY.” Announcements were sent to all the physicians, VNAs, church groups, etc. The local newspaper was invited and they sent a photographer. More than 80 people attended. The lecturers were superb and the Q & A period after each speaker proved very interesting.  

Other activities could include giving out meal plans, blood sugar and blood pressure testing, raffles that included exercise equipment, and discounted memberships to local fitness centers.  There are so many healthy options and you can really get creative!

That day, they sold many scales and also one physician unit. He told me he plans to offer an “obesity day” program at least once a year. There were many other items sold that day which would help the customers in their battle with obesity. It was a banner day!  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!




When we all sit down with family and friends for our  annual Thanksgiving dinner, we should recall the events of this past year.

If we look back at the last twelve months we will find there were many exciting events which auger well for the future. The economy has started to rebuild and expand. As this continues, we will soon be out of the recession. The United States will once again return to normal.

Many new jobs are being found daily and this is another indication that the United States is on the rebound. As this further develops, we will continue to lead the world to share in this recovery.

I thank the Good Lord for my family and friends! I ask that you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Please join with me for this most festive holiday.

I wish you all A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING! AMEN!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shelly Looks Back: Opportunities


It’s fascinating how one thing can lead to another. Previously I wrote briefly about “opportunities” for DME/HME providers and when it was completed, I realized how big the potential market could be for your company. So along the same idea of soliciting new sales, here is another “door opener".


At one time, in my more than 65+ year career, I was a partner in an Ambulance and Oxygen Supply company.  Our company was awarded the bid to supply and service oxygen cylinders for the police and fire departments. The empty cylinders were brought in once a week, refilled and exchanged the next trip. The best thing that happened was that the various related OTC items they purchased brought in as many dollars as did the contract.

My company built these sales into a major new source of income: EMT squads. Most policemen and fire fighters are trained to give emergency medical treatment and so they, too, are EMTs. Most of them purchased their supplies from a catalog. I obtained a catalog and it was very obvious that we handled nearly all these products. 

This is why we very aggressively jumped into this new segment. We went to the local college and, with their help, hired a very fine young person. We offered an entry-level job and it very rapidly grew into a career.

In our showroom we scheduled a monthly Saturday morning demo. The new “hire” invited the vendor sales reps to set up displays.  It was wonderful to see how quickly this caught on and word of mouth brought more attendees each time.

Once every quarter, we made arrangements to offer a training class for the EMT’s at a local hotel. We charged a modest fee which included lunch. We learned that the fee made it important to attend (no cost=no value). The meetings were scheduled from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  The average attendance was more then 120 policemen, firemen, and EMTs.

What was so rewarding is that we had no problem obtaining speakers. We invited emergency room physicians, nurses, and officers from the squads. They were delighted and we developed a list of professionals who were very pleased to be asked. We even made arrangements for a local company to sell appropriate books.

Yes, marketing EMT supplies became one of our best sources of sales and brought us many “thank you” comments. The local newspaper wrote an article about our classes, which pleased us very much.

This is just another way to develop OTC cash sales!

Monday, November 19, 2012

POTUS


TAKE ACTION NOW:  http://action.aahomecare.org/


For the next four years, the President of the United States will again be Barack Obama. Whether you supported him or Romney is no longer important. There can only be one President. However, the United States of America is still divided into two equal “pros” and “cons”. This is what concerns me now, are Congress and the President capable of working more closely together? There is far too much at stake to play “a party line”!

From today forward we, particularly DME/HME providers, must do everything possible to protect our industry and take care of our clientele. One of the important tasks facing us at this moment is getting HR 6490 (MPP) out of committee and onto the floor of Congress.

For the next two months we will have a “lame duck” Congress. If your current Congressman was not re-elected, please make the contact.  Now is when to ask for his support. Speak, explain and I am sure that you will be able to get them to sign on their support before they return home.


If it is a new Congressman, then before anyone else reaches him, please be the first of his constituents to make contact. They do not know if you voted for or against them. What is imperative is that they will recognize that you are an active constituent and your voice will be heard. This will also establish you as a valuable supporter with strong contacts in the community.


The first step is to establish close relations with the HLA (health legislative assistant) in the DC office and the office manager at their home base. Their major task is to collect the messages from the electorate and bring it to the legislator. Make friends! Let them know how much you and your customers appreciate what they do.

All the years that I was in business I made it a point to work with my Congressmen. I developed friends, with both my Senators Representatives office, in DC and at home. When I contacted them I was always heard and,  more often than not, I received an answer to my requests. You must establish a similar relationship. That is how they stay in office!

The average citizen in the United States can be heard and if you and the other DME/HME providers work together, we can get more of what we need.  Your state and national associations will guide you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is there a market for DME/HME providers with Telemedicine?

Is there a market for DME/HME providers with Telemedicine? As CMS is seeking new means of reducing the cost of providing care, they are looking at telemedicine as a major break through. CMS envisions that it would reduce unnecessary hospitalization by allowing patients to be monitored regularly. It could possibly reduce trips to the ER or being admitted to an institution by 50%.


I prefer to call this service home tele-health!  It can also be referred to as Remote Home Patient Monitoring. I sent a blog in mid-summer and asked for some feedback. I only received a few answers and they were all acknowledged. I will ask once again, because it is an opportunity for your company to become the center of activity for good health care in your community.

Think about the role of the visiting nurse, a trip to an office, or any other technique used for checking a patient’s vital signs. As the middleman between the patient and the practitioner, your company can provide this service.

A brief description of home tele-health is the patient can sit down at home and send their vital signs instantly to their physician or nurse. You provide a BP Cuff, spirometer, scale, blood glucose monitor, oximeter, EKG and the other equipment required. The patient by themselves, or with the aid of a family caregiver, can affix the equipment and instantly forward their reports STAT via telephone or the web to have them monitored by their professional caregivers. The nurse or physician can then question anything that appears to be abnormal. The fees for these services are nominal, but they add up to many dollars in savings.

Are you interested in looking at this opportunity for your company?  Any changes you wish to make, whether for home tele-health or any other program always requires being investigated. Please send an e-mail (shelly.prial@att.net) or call me (321-255-3885). Do not allow this to go elsewhere. I am positive that bringing this service to your community will be a profitable one!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Back to "Normal"


The United States has just chosen who will run the country. Now will we ever see things return “back to normal?” What does that mean? I thought long and hard to find a correct description of “normal”. Is it usual, standard, customary, orderly, right, correct or typical? Actually it’s all of the above.


I have received a number of calls and messages wondering when things will return to normal? My answer to all of them was: “When things are quiet and peaceful and you can sit down to read a newspaper, is that what you want? No! Being busy all day is your goal!
 
You are an entrepreneur running the business and you must make decisions quickly! Your customer will ask a question, a family caregiver is seeking help, your clerk has a problem, the telephone is ringing, the mail carrier comes in with a handful of mail, your wife wants you to shop on your way home, and your son has to be picked up at the gym.  Yes, this is all perfectly customary!



The good thing is that we never think about all of these happenings nor do we concern ourselves with them. We respond to all of these and you are successful because you are professional and your business is the livelihood for your family and employees. Your company has the responsibility of providing good care, supplies and working with customers and their family caregivers. That’s how it should be!

My answer to when will things “return to normal” is typically what has always been. Times change and without realizing it, so do you. Now our industry has to reach out to the incumbents and newly elected. Every effort must be made the get their support for HR 6490 (MPP).

When you continue to provide the service and care, as you have always done, your company will flourish. Normal is status quo.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Voting Day!



Tuesday, November 6, may prove to be a most important election day for our industry. DME/HME has a great deal at stake this year. We must bring or return to Congress both Representatives and Senators who know and understand what homecare really is about. They must comprehend that a great number of their constituents are senior citizens and that the baby boom generation is about to enter that category.


These people want to live in their homes. They do not wish to live together with other family members.  They do not wish to enter into any type of senior home care  or other facility.

Since one of the strengths of a DME/HME provider is his relations with both his patients and their family caregivers. They will listen when you speak about defeating the competitive bid. They will respond if you suggest they speak to their Representative to support MPP. You all have a tremendous amount of strength to bring about change. Together with your clients support those candidates that will defend you as well as their constituents.  

Yes, you have that strength! There are only a few days left until we vote. This year the elections will be very close. Every single vote you bring to “our” side will make things happen. Each vote is so critical.

If you need any tools just call your state or national association and they will cheerfully provide what you need. Please start speaking and calling and get involved. Your future has a great potential. Get the voters stirred up!

NO ONE ELSE HAS THE ABILITY AND POWER
TO DO WHAT YOU CAN !!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My meeting with local officials on HR6490



Vital? Get on Board

Question: How valuable is the passage of HR 6490 to your future?
Answer:  SURVIVAL!

It is imperative that every DME/HME provider contact his or her Representative to Congress immediately. If you have not done so yet, please cease what you are doing and get on the phone or send an e-mail STAT. They will all be in their local offices until after Election Day.

The home office number and address can be found in the local telephone directory (or online). Since your survival as an independent business company is at stake, please do it now.

I also suggest you take the extra time to send an e-mail to their HLA or Chief of Staff in D.C. The website for each Congressman (or woman) will be: http://lastname.house.gov.  Or, just do a simple Google Search.  If you would also like to make a personal call, I have the office phone in D.C. numbers available.  Contact me personally: shelly.prial@att.net

I received a few copies of memos sent by some state associations; I will take the liberty of repeating one: 

“Take Action Today To Repeal and Replace Competitive Bidding!


We need to keep up the pressure!

If you haven’t yet contacted your representative about signing onto HR6490 –
the bill that repeals and replaces the flawed competitive bidding program –
Time is of essence!

If you have, but have not heard back yet – contact them again!”





I contacted my Representative, Bill Posey, and had the good fortune of meeting with his Chief of Staff. We had a nice discussion and here is his answer:

“I had a chance to discuss the details of H.R. 6490 with Rep Posey and he asked me to have him added as a cosponsor of the bill.”

Every one of us must make contact. If possible, ask some of your customers and family caregivers to join with you. Yes. We can protect ourselves if we ALL continue our efforts. It is vital, important, and can be powerful.

DO IT NOW! ! !

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Next Step to Save our Profession

There has been a great deal of talk about these two programs, Medicare and Social Security. They may become bankrupt! Is that possible?

Yes, it is very likely to happen if we sit by idly and not lift a finger to bring about some needed changes. One of the great things about our country is that as a democracy, we “the people” can accomplish a great deal when we act in unison.  Since our industry, depends a great deal on these programs, we must gather our resources and then move forward, not sit back and wait for someone else to react.

In the September Issue of HomeCare Magazine I wrote “Time for Teamwork” and spoke about the importance of our State DME and National Associations.   At the Medtrade Exposition in Atlanta I saw each DME Association hard at work to bring together a tidal wave of support. Every association was working with one another on behalf, of not only their members, but also for our industry.

The first thing I became aware of is that the Medicare Trust Fund is sufficiently funded to last until year 2024.  At that time, if no changes were made Medicare would be able to pay only 87% of expenses. So we see that there are just about a dozen years to correct that shortfall. Social Security has a different life span; it can provide benefits until year 2037.

Dr. Tom Price speaking at Power for Funding
What can we do now? It is imperative that we all work together as a team to bring about a new approach to resolve these difficulties.

One of our tasks is to get the MPP legislation passed. This will allow a great deal of relief to all DME/HME dealers and rid the industry of the offensive competitive bid. I was able to meet Representative Tom Price at Medtrade. It is reassuring to know that many of our elected legislators are recognizing what he has introduced.  I was just one of many attendees at Medtrade who were able to have that privilege. Getting this bill through Congress must be high on our list of projects. The State and National associations are leading the way to get through Congress. Please give them your support.

Fraud and abuse is the major enemy we have to eliminate from the system. When we see published in the newspapers how many dollars they suck out of the system, the solution becomes very apparent. If we can clean out this abuse, there would be sufficient money for Medicare. We must give 100% support to our associations to get this accomplished. Get on board now. Your future depends on their efforts so they can obtain the results you require to save our business.

AA Homecare President, Tyler Wilson, at the Stand Up for Homecare Reception
There are very specific goals that our industry must achieve. I commented on the two must important, MPP and fraud & abuse. However you cannot do that alone, but you, as a DME/HME provider can make great strides forward when combining your efforts with others. I am sure you applaud the work of AAHomecare, NAIMES and the state DME Associations. They get much good work accomplished, but they can do a great deal more. That is where you come in.

If you are not a dues-paying member of these professional organizations, please become one now. They need you and then they will help maintain your company, but you must help them with your participation (both financial and working with them). If you are currently a member, and then by all means help them by soliciting your friends and competitors to also get on board. If we can get membership as close to 100% as possible, we will see much more completed to protect us and our clientele.

Always keep in mind the many patients, senior citizens and customers who keep your company solvent. They are a very powerful ally to keep DME/HME locations running efficiently.

They depend on your ability to keep them in good health and they will rally to support your efforts. I spoke with an active dealer at Medtrade. He uses the e–mail to keep his customers apprised of what is happening that might affect them. He offers a few specials and he shares good health ideas every few weeks. He told me that after each release he gets requests from others to receive his messages.  (Look for an affordable and simple e-mail marketing program like Constant Contact.)

You, too, can do the same. Your clientele can become supporters for the MPP. They will help us get rid of the yoke of the competitive bid and become active partners working with you to eliminate fraud and abuse.

It is amazing how much you, an active HME/DME provider can accomplish when working in tandem with you clientele and your national and state associations. In the many years I have been writing similar articles, speaking at many association meetings and listening to the feedback one thing has become crystal clear.  Everyone of your can be a leader.  I ask that each DME/HME provider gather together your customers, their family caregivers and then as a team will make a difference. That is what has made the United States of America such a fantastic country. It has always listened to VOX POPULI (Voice of the People) and by providing the facts and guidance, we will benefit!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Through Shelly's Spectacles: Medtrade 2012 Consumer Advocacy

Since the very first exhibition held in Atlanta some 33 years ago, I have had the good fortune to watch and see how Medtrade has grown and expanded. There has never been a venue where DME/HME providers could attend and then return home filled with so many good ideas and opportunities.

I will share my thoughts for those who missed Medtrade and also add to what the attendees participated in the next blog or two. This year was a giant step forward for all of the participants as well as the industry: CONSUMER ADVOCACY!

Prior to cutting the ribbon for the opening of the exhibition there was a meeting of the “Power for Funding” committee, Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) spoke about the bill he has introduced for MPP (we must all work to get this through Congress) to replace the existing Competitive Bid legislation.

Show Director Kevin Gaffney then opened the hall and many of us headed directly to the Advocacy Pavilion. Every comment I heard about this was a “thank you” for setting aside the space and allowing this to be built. Yes, it was that impressive.

A bit about the pavilion. In the educational Learning Destination feature called "Homecare Works! The Path to Better Affordable Healthcare."  It was full-scale home display with four lovely docents walking groups of attendees though and explaining each of the displays.  In the home, each room included products from various manufacturers in the setting they would actually be used.  As a reward at the end of the tour, they were offered a “hot dog” with trimmings. The backside of this exhibit had very important Consumer Advocacy associations present, each there to explain their role.  To name a few: United Cerebral Palsy, Shepherd Center, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Muscular Dystrophy Association, COPD and others.



The major sponsor in building the Advocacy Pavilion was MK Battery. Philips Respironics and others joined Medtrade with them. When I saw how these companies and their staffs worked so closely together, I can state unequivocally that the future of our industry is superb. I must add my thank you for all that MK Battery has accomplished in the last few years. They made this Advocacy Day a success.

Wayne Merdinger, VP, MK Battery told me this is part of their effort to bring together more cooperation between providers and consumer advocacy associations. Keith Durni on behalf of Philips Healthcare echoed the same.

I recommend that every DME/HME provider offer “Consumer Advocacy Days” in their community. By building this, you will help make some great solutions locally. Your customers can join us in the efforts to bring the MPP legislation to Congress and get it passed. Yes, our industry has a lot at stake. We must be successful! Please follow the leaders, your state and national associations.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Shelly Looks Back: The First Medtrade


The First Medtrade Show



Think back! Try to recall the very first Medtrade Exhibition that you went to? Were you present at the Georgia World Center or did you go to the hotel?

I was very fortunate in that I did attend the very first and yes, it was held at the Georgia World Center. The second show was held at what was then a Marriott Hotel. They were both great fun!

The first “Medtrade” (not so identified then) was really a social event. So many friends getting together, both the vendors and the dealers, and we all really shared a most enjoyable event. There even were some sales made!

Little did any of us recognize these first two shows would evolve into the one most important event for DME/HME dealers and providers? Today there is a very major difference, one that takes precedence over all other reasons (and there are many) for attending Medtrade. It has matured today into the one best source of education for the industry.

Just count the large number of speakers and classes that are held. How many sit in at each? Many lectures are SRO (standing room only). Now add to that total the number of important people such as Senators, Representatives, attorneys and university faculty. These all are educators who have agreed to participate.

When I try to comprehend what Medtrade has become, I am flabbergasted. I don’t think there is any other venue where so much is made available. Whether you are a DME/HME provider, manufacturer or other allied professional, Medtrade is where everything happens. I will see you in Atlanta.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why MPP?


We have a challenge facing our industry and it is probably the ONE momentous pending legislation that can save our profession! This MARKET PRICING PROGRAM (MPP) basically is the only fair way for a DME/HME provider. Learn the details; get everyone involved, because you and your staff can influence the vote.


At Medtrade there will be much material available to help guide you. A great number of discussions are scheduled where you can obtain the knowledge necessary to deliver your message. The Representative from Georgia, Dr. Tom Price, who introduced this legislation, will be attending Medtrade.  There will be a reception on Wednesday (10/ 16 @ 10:00 AM in room B13), which you should attend to show your support.

What is the Market Pricing Program? It is not a competitive bid program governed by politicians who only look for $$$, not results.  CMS is trying to bring reimbursements down so low that only the least expensive (cheapest) products can be provided with no service or care!

My career has included building three pharmacies, working for a major med-surg distributor, being one myself and spending a number of years as a manufacturers rep. I realize what MPP means, do you?

I know and understand what you provide and I appreciate the service your customers get. Price is not the factor! The care and concern you give is always the platform dealers bring to their clientele. This is not included in reimbursements, so it is vital to get the MPP program through Congress.

A Market Pricing Program can be described as giving your clientele the best. Cost and retail is always a factor. The competition is another component but customer satisfaction is what makes you a success. Service and satisfaction always beats price.

You have the ability to speak to every customer and their family caregivers. Explain why they must get involved. They do not want to lose your service or be forced to travel great distances for their needs They are all very well aware of this and when you return from Medtrade, armed with all the material you need, take the few days left until votes are cast and ask for support.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shelly Looks Back: Planting a Seed


When I was a Boy Scout (generations ago) I thought it would be a nice idea to grow vegetables. I did. This took place when WW2 started and we developed a “victory garden.” It all began when we planted a seed.


I received a most intriguing report from a DME/HME provider in a small city in the Northeast. After reading one of these blogs, he hired a new salesperson. He liked the idea of contacting the community college in town. They recommended a young lady for what he described as an “entry level job” to home care as a profession.

His competition was a major company, few similar DMEs and pharmacies. Each of them were doing well but none were dominating the market. This new hire was very successful. As a consequence, a large number of new customers were directed to him.

The young lady asked if she could include supplies when she made her calls. They compiled a short list of commonly used products by physicians (adhesive bandages, gauze pads, etc). Sales expanded and so did the list. They added items they normally stocked which included stethoscopes and BP monitors. These sales kept getting larger and led more patients being guided to their location.

Why not do something similar and “cherry pick” what we identify as med-surg supplies. Solicit the EMTs, fire and police departments for new sales, especially if you handle oxygen. Add schools, local business and other places people gather. Small sales can bring many new dollars.

At Medtrade, in a few days you will see a multitude of products your company can very successfully market. Come to Atlanta to seek these opportunities and make the coming year one where your company will expand and increase both sales and profits. Plant a seed and harvest a crop!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Prepare & Work Together!


There are many problems that must be resolved facing our industry. The action to address them is paramount on every DME/HME proprietors “to-do” list. I am fortunate to hear from many dealers from different parts of the country. I am also cognizant there are answers which can be found.


All I propose to do is help guide you all through Medtrade Fall in Atlanta. It is almost time to cut the ribbon and start the “show”. Notice I did not say “festivities” because this year, everyone I have spoken with is going to Atlanta to seek answers.

Sit down with your employees and sort out those major problems you wish to address. If you are for MPP, write that down. If you want to see the competitive bid eliminated, record that. If you are seeking new products to feature, make a list of the appropriate vendors to visit and check out the new product pavilion! If you are not a member of a state or national association, by all means please put that on your “do it” list. (Here's a list of State Associations)

Carefully review the speakers and classes offered at Medtrade that will help your operation. Attend as many as possible and, if you bring any employees, direct them to attend others. Save the handouts and share them when you return with your entire staff. 

There are additional opportunities awaiting you. A large number of the State Associations will be manning tables on the exhibition floor. Please visit yours and let them know you appreciate their efforts. Bringing local and state problems to the attention of state legislators is one of their specialties. AAHomecare and NAIMES address national problems. If you are not currently a member of these, please join. You no longer have the ability to stand-alone.

My personal goal is to speak with as many providers, dealers, and vendors to hear what they wish to see accomplished. You must do the same.

As I said in my opening, yes we have problems, but by working together a large number can be resolved.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Today's Economy


I am flabbergasted as I listen to the “wanna-be candidates” constantly saying many bad things about their opponents.

When we hear their “compliments” about each other, how do they expect us to trust them? We all have a good idea about what is wrong!  Yes, I agree, we do need some changes. However they refuse to tell us how they will put in place the “ideas” to which they refer.

So I did a great deal of study. I read four newspapers every day: the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and two local publications. Here are some facts reported by each.

1.) Construction of new homes is rising.
2.) Sales of existing homes are growing at a very rapid pace.
3.) Although we still have a great deal of unemployment, new jobs are being filled daily.
4.) The stock market is slowly heading to new heights.
5.) The price of crude oil is going down.

I can prepare a similar list of the problems we face, but my primary interest is mainly for the DME/HME industry. What do we seek?  We should never be the scapegoats for the country’s economy. When we are able to return to a normal business operation, many problems will be resolved.

The competitive bid will force many smaller companies to fail. Every DME/HME Company who is forced to close his doors puts more pressure on the economy. The MPP (marketing pricing program) will allow every dealer to earn a fair share of the market. I can vouch for this because as small dealer, in a very large pond, I was able to maintain and successfully grow my “little” operation. 

I cannot tell you how important it is that we all join forces and become a formidable influence on Congress.  We do not have the amount of funds the conglomerates spend to give to the political party they want elected. As an industry, by working with AAHomecare, NAIMES, the state associations and the buying groups we can influence our customers, family caregivers and others to vote for and support the politicians who recognize the role of  DME/HME. Believe it or not, we can be that powerful.

"Stand Up for Homecare" with AA Homecare at Medtrade 2012


At Medtrade, which is only a week away, you will be able to make your voice heard. In Atlanta you will listen to the people who work with us. Be there, join your association if you are not currently a member. Watch and see what a powerful influence we can become! United we will be successful, divided we will fail.

The economy is getting better! Now is when we all must get on the offensive to guide our Congress to put in place the necessary changes.

Yes, we can do that!