Saturday, February 18, 2012

Looking to the Future

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we had a magic globe and could look into the future? We, researching in our magic globe will see what problems are facing us, and then perhaps we can plan to prevent them from happening. Even better, we may discover many good things that are awaiting us and plan around these events. But alas, we do not have that ability.

But there are so many new and profitable opportunities that can be found when attending Medtrade Spring. It is April 10-12 at the Sands expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas and that can be your magic globe!

To obtain the maximum benefits you should make very careful plans! A review with your accountant and bookkeeper should show which segments of the business bring the most sales volume. Finding those that bring the highest profits are very important and which segments need to be improved.

Then, when you review who the exhibitors are and where their booths will be, you can plan ahead. One of the HME/DME dealers I know told me that before he leaves for Medtrade, he contacts the vendors and key reps his company works with and makes appointments to meet their sales manages or company principals at the show. Many good deals and promotions are arranged in that fashion! You can do the same! Their representative and his superior really appreciate when that happens and you will receive the dedicated attention you deserve.

As in the past, you must pay careful attention to all the various products in the New Products Pavilion. Be sure to visit the exhibits and see what’s new and what will fit into your operation. Opportunities galore are waiting for you.

There are many major benefits to be gained from attending Medtrade. When you plan how you will approach the vendors on the exhibit floor you reap a great ROI. I will be walking the floor and so please find me and share your experiences with me. See you in Las Vegas!

To register for Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas visit:

The Customer: Your Biggest Asset!

The goal of my blogs are directed to help DME/HME dealers build excellent operations. The changing markets, new regulations, frightening decreases in remuneration, are all hanging over every dealer’s head. Success in this hectic market will continue and the key to that is to maintain current customers and at the same time find new ones.

How does a customer view your company? No matter how much great service you may provide, the only instance that will always be remembered is the one where things went awry. No company is perfect! However with correct training and appearance you will always earn an excellent score from your clients.

Foremost, of course, is good customer service. A cheerful greeting on the phone when answered is a must. A friendly hello when anyone enters into your showroom is imperative. I hear jokes about Wal-Mart where every customer is greeted as they enter. Why joke about that? Each of your employees can easily give a friendly “hello” when people enter.

At your staff meetings always remind your employees they are all “goodwill ambassadors” for the company. Spend some time at each meeting to talk about addressing customers and building relations by superb service. You are in the health care business, so a simple “how do you feel today?” usually will suffice. Let your customer realize that you care!

Another key piece to customer service is appearance. Is your showroom brightly lit? Many older clients do not have strong vision so please accommodate them. Are all products on display clearly marked with the price? Don't assume that if someone is unsure of the price they'll ask. They might move on, and you might lose a sale!

I recall sitting in a seminar at Medtrade where the speaker’s opened words were “WHAT IS YOUR BEST ASSET?” Then before anyone could answer, he said “YOUR CUSTOMER!” Never forget that your customer is the one single asset that must be maintained.

Medtrade Spring Excitement!

I got very excited this morning. I made my reservation for a hotel room in Las Vegas. Thelma and I will be able to attend the Spring Medtrade Exhibition in Las Vegas (April 11 and 12) and we look forward to a few fantastic days.

I believe that I have attended every Medtrade Exhibition since its inception and yet the excitement of seeing all my friends, meeting new ones, attending seminars and visiting exhibitors still turns me on. Nothing can match this!

This year, more than ever before, our industry is under attack. DME/HME dealers and providers are an easy target for politicians. We have to learn how better to work together, share expenses and deliver our message.

Because of chicanery on the part of a few dishonest individuals and companies, padding of bills for Medicare and Medicaid, and politicians are using it as fodder. They say when elected they will be able to redo the programs. But they never do, they only talk! Just say how. 

Our task is to make sure the general public, our customers, clientele, family caregivers and friends to join forces and deliver the message that DME/HME dealers are not culprits. The reimbursements they receive for supplies and equipment never covers all that is provided, including service. This service which is provided pro bono is the one thing that must be told! Making the trip to Las Vegas is the best opportunity to protect your company!

Attending gets me very excited, especially when the dealers and vendors I meet at Medtrade share with me their ideas. The future of our industry, in particular this year since Congress will probably be changed in November. It is so imperative to get involved.

At Medtrade you will obtain all the tools you will need to speak with both customers and politicians. The state associations will be there, the national associations will be there, vendors and manufacturers will be there and so must you!

The speakers will all be primed to see that when you return home you will be ready to get your employees, customers, family caregivers, friends and associates ready to do battle Get excited and register to attend (April 11-12).

For more information on Medtrade Spring conference and exhibition visit the website here:

And don't forget to "Like" the Medtrade Facebook page:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is There No End?

It seems that everyday in the newspapers we find reports of more and more fraud and abuse in the health care system. Yet since I know many dealers and providers, and communicate with their state and national associations, I will make the following statement: “Fraud and abuse does NOT come from providers, but from outside sources who take advantage of an antiquated system designed for reimbursement.”

The system is at fault, not the dealers or providers. According to an article this week (Associated Press) in 2011 the Feds found $4.1 BILLION dollars in health care fraud. That sounds like a great deal of money, but the next paragraph said that they estimated anywhere from 60 to 90 billion dollars a year was being siphoned out of the system.

The average DME/HME dealers are the hardest working proprietors who operate their companies honestly. They are not the culprits. They give away more service and care Pro Bono than any other industry. So what can be done to stop this thievery?

The first thing that has to be accomplished is that every dealer or provider has to earn a license. We have made great progress in that direction and now must go one step further. Accreditation is a fantastic step forward and those dealers who meet and maintain these standards are to be recognized.

It appears that fraud and abuse has become such a major “industry” with developing networks that operate for a few years, milk many dollars, and when uncovered they disappear. Many new “Jack, the Crook” operations are popping up. Why not? When Jack the Crook is discovered selling narcotics he goes to jail, but when he is caught stealing from Medicare, he closes his business and re-opens the next day with a different name. That being the case, the first step has to be earning a license to provide health care supplies, one which can be revoked or suspended.

Is there no end to fraud and abuse? We have to be diligent. We have to work with our state DME associations and support the national associations. At Medtrade this Spring, in Las Vegas, you can speak to all of them and sign on to fight for survival and keep out all the “Jack the Crook” operations.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A 10-year old's take on the solution to Competitive Bidding

I receive a great number of messages daily (thank you) and I look forward to reading most of them. The most important are the e-mails sent by the administrators of the state DME associations. I recognize the hard work they perform and the great amount of information they provide to their members.

I want to share an e-mail that Mike Hamilton, Executive Director of ADMEA, sent to his members today. Mike and I have been friends for many years and I know he will not object to my sending this to you. Just look at the idea from a 10 year old young lady.

I am forwarding it exactly as it was sent:

“Like many in the HME industry, Peter Falkson, CEO and co-founder of National Sleep Therapy was concerned and frustrated about the competitive bidding program. He wanted to take action and find a way to reach out to the public about a flawed program that they have no idea is coming. Little did he know that the answer would come from his 10-year-old daughter.

"I was talking to my wife about competitive bidding" said Falkson, "telling her how it was so poorly aligned. My daughter was in the room listening and she said, 'Dad, this is easy. You just need to do what we did in my class. Tell the world your story and if it is a good story, they will cause the change.'"

"My daugther was one of fourteen fourth-graders who got together to take on Universal Pictures to change a movie trailer. After collecting 57,000 signatures, the studio made the change. They used a website called to create an on-line petition that ended up going viral. Falkson said, "It worked for her class so I took her advice!"

"This is such a great idea," said Karyn Estrella, NEMED executive director. "We have heard from Congress year after year that they don't hear enough about competitive bidding from their constituents but it's been difficult to get them involved. If we can get enough organizations to support this effort, we have a good chance of raising awareness that this program needs to be fixed. 20 NEMED members will be traveling to D.C. next week to ask Congress to add the Market Pricing Plan (MPP) to the doc fix bill. If we can get enough signatures on this petition, it could strengthen our position. NEMED will be sharing the link with AAHomecare, state associations and other organizations with a request that they share the petition in email, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This petition needs to go viral." Added Falkson, "If every HME company got half of their patient base to sign this petition, we would have a chance. We need the grassroots voters to have a united voice to actually make a change."

I am sure that you will enjoy these comments as I did. I will share with our readers all the good ideas I receive!

If you agree, please sign the online petition here:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Health Insurance

After listening the past few weeks to the politicians seeking the Presidential nomination, and then reading what the columnists in magazines and newspapers comment, I am flabbergasted! I do not quite comprehend what they each stand for or what they will do. They scream about the cost of health care, but not about the threats that our country faces in this hectic world.

My main concern is if any changes in legislation will affect DME/HME dealers and providers. As an industry our first concern has always been for our customers, patients and their family caregivers.

Americans purchase life insurance, home insurance, automobile insurance, and many other types of policies to protect themselves, their homes, possessions and livelihood. These are not all obligatory, but one’s choice. Ownership of these gives one a feeling of security. There are occasions when in order to get a loan the lender will demand a policy but it is still an individual’s option.

There are countries that provide every citizen with a form of health insurance. That, too, is laudable. Many employers provide some type of health insurance as part of their salary packages. Many of the poor and indigent in the U.S. are covered by their state's Medicaid programs. And, for a huge number of the population there is Medicare.

Should the percentage of Americans who do not have health insurance be obliged to purchase it? I believe that if it is forced on us the cost of insurance will rise. I also believe that if a person does not wish to buy any form of health insurance that is their decision! Should one be penalized if they do not have insurance?

I know that in one way or another, the source of medical supplies will always be DME/HME dealers. I am very comfortable with my feeling that DME/HME will always be ready and willing to serve their community.

So to all politicians, whether on the left or the right, please address the threats that face the United States of America; inflation, Iran, oil, recession, budget, education and work to correct the rapidly rising cost of health care in our country caused by fraud and abuse. Once this is corrected there will be sufficient funds to cover all citizens.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Health Care Reform

On the OPINION page in the Wall Street Journal (issue date 02/06/12) I saw an answer to the Medicare competitive bid program.

Normally a competitive bid is awarded to the lowest bidder. Other than that, why go through the motions? The Medicare competitive bid program “winners” (more than one) will receive the median price offered, rather than the lowest quote received. Does that make sense?

Chaos is created as follows: Dealer known only as “Jack the Crook Home Health Care,” does the following (is his company part of a chain?): He submits his bids so low that if he was awarded the bid he would go bankrupt. But that doesn’t happen!

“Jack the Crook” knows that median price is awarded to the lowest bidders (his company fits that slot) and he is in. This is dishonest, unfair to the legitimate dealers who to submit prices based on their cost and services, and more often than not, are in the top percentage of bids submitted. Now, they find themselves out of the loop.

As an industry we must attack this faulty legislation and show just how stupid it is. As a DME/HME dealer you must alert all your customers, family caregivers, and others to this rather poor bid and explain the consequences. When we all work as a team, we can accomplish that!

Find a copy of this WSJ Opinion and read it, share it, and then get on the bandwagon and get this yoke off everyone's back, particularly those of your clientele.

At Medtrade this spring in Las Vegas (4/10-12) a great deal of time will be devoted to this subject. Be sure you attend, there is far too much at stake for you not to be there. Seminars, workshops, and many experts all bringing with them the tools you require to maintain your company. You have to protect what you have, no one else can do that for you.