Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is it October yet?

I am writing about Medtrade today, almost a half year away, after I had conversations with two industry friends. Is it really a long way off?  No, it will be here before you realize!

One call was from a very busy independent DME/HME provider in the mid-west. He uses a trip to Medtrade Atlanta as a prize for meeting specific goals. He has five “sales” people on staff, three inside and two on the road.

Working with each they set goals which are very fair, attainable and as he told me, very necessary. When they meet or exceed them they will be his guests at Medtrade! With the market so unstable and concerns by the public about healthcare, he recognized now it is imperative to build good customer relations. His experience has shown him that building goodwill also means building new sales.

The other was from a dealer about 90 miles away from the first caller. They did not know one another, but each was very upbeat about Medtrade. Dealer #2 runs a much smaller operation with only two salespeople. He brings a different one each year to Medtrade.

It is equally important for every DME/HME dealer to not only attend Medtrade but to bring their key personnel. The amount of information, ideas to build new sales and find new products, work with peers and seminars are waiting for you and your team.

Start planning today! October 16 the show opens and I want to greet you as the doors rise up.

If you're planning to visit for the first time, or are a seasoned veteran and just want to share with me your thoughts, feel free to give me a call!  I love to hear from old and new friends!  1-877-553-5127 or


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What do you say?

A few dealers have contacted me to ask what they should tell their customers about the Competitive Bid Proposal. I have told them that a conversation with their customers and their family caregivers can be a vital step, which you can take to defeat the bid proposal. It is imperative you get all your patients, family caregivers, and customers to contact their elected officials in DC to help defeat the “bid”. 

The best answer I can think of is to ask them if they would like to have a physician assigned to them to provide medical care that was the “lowest bidder?” The answer invariably is “of course not.” But this is what would happen if this legislation were passed to obtain their supplies.

Where CMS had the trial runs the problems were vast and the complaints rather caustic. Many patients were forced to travel a long distance for their supplies. They did not receive the personal touch and comfort that they were used to with their current provider. They really had little choice! Family caregivers no longer had a friend who worked with their relative. That is a big deal for the patient’s comfort.

Then there is much difficulty for the patient to get service, not a delivery or pick-up but also where to get repairs, ask questions and have their minds put at ease. Often patients had to go to more than one provider because many items were not available in a single location.

When working with your state and national association all of these can be avoided. They will give you the necessary tools! They will provide you with the answers. They will tell you which senator or representative to call. You will get the guidance necessary. As a result of good team effort, the Competitive Bid Proposal would disappear.

Check out this great video from The People for Quality Care that sums it up pretty nice...  Your customers deserve better!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shelly Looks Back: Read & Listen

A very long time ago, perhaps 1932, when I started public school the teacher told the class that we would all learn to read and listen.  I don’t know why I remember this today in my 86th year. I still recall her words; read and listen!

As all of us do, we read a great deal. I start off each morning with three newspapers at my door and go through them very carefully. So many ideas and information (both good and bad) are at our fingertips to absorb. I personally have developed ideas, thoughts and cautions by doing this and I try to pass them on to our readers.

I am a major patron of the public library! I assume you all are. I listen to everyone (and yes, I talk too much) but I really do hear what everyone says.

Here are a few things to guide you. Every Monday there are two letters on my e-mail list that I read. They are the Medtrade Monday Newsletter and HomeCare Monday. As you do, I also receive the HME News reports, many state association memos and a plethora of other important information. I know this takes time, but I repeat my message of  reading and listening. All of what is sent (and read) will help you  build a better business, miss some bumps on the road  and protect your company. What is available to you is fantastic.

Last week, there was a report by Jeff Baird in Medtrade Monday “Keys to a Successful Compliance.” and in HomeCare Monday about the “pending hearing in the House relative to competitive bidding.’ HAVE YOU READ THEM? To remain solvent and  successful in these wild times you must read and listen!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Why doesn’t Congress want to provide good healthcare to the elderly, the ill and others in need? Why do they choose to reduce the reimbursements DME/HME providers receive for their services and supplies? I believe it is because our industry seems to be an easy target. By making it look like most of the fraud and abuse in the system appears to come from providers it takes the pressure off the real thieves!

But we know DME/HME providers are not at fault! It appears to be much easier for the dishonest element to fleece the government rather than sell narcotics.

A great many positive efforts to protect our industry are currently in place. For example, the AA Homecare staff holds an every-other-week teleconference with state associations to share information. Medtrade is also a phenomenal source as are the legislative conferences.

What I would like to see happen is the leaders of the industry from both the dealers and the vendors design a conference exclusively to address these problems. Then by working with the state and national organizations, buying groups and publications we can organize a force as effective as AMA or AHA. It is not just money we need. DME/HME providers have the ability to involve their clientele (patients, customers, family caregivers, etc.) In this fashion we can create the VOX POPULI, the voice of the people. This is always heard and heeded .

We will ask Congress “why a competitive bid? Then we will give them the answer. They will hear the VOX POPULI.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Approach the New Market- Need Your Ideas!

Speaking and working with peers is an excellent way to compare how each approach this gyrating healthcare market. As an industry DME/HME providers face a difficult problem. For many years reimbursements, whether from Medicare, Medicaid or other sources, was always a steady cash flow. Unfortunately, it has now become a trickle rather than a flow.

To submit a bid, which would provide even less that the current reimbursement rates, makes no sense. The government is not cognizant that the problem is not DME/HME. They have made it so convenient for “non-professionals” (a euphemism for thieves) to rent a storefront or an office to become a provider. They do not have to prove they have any skills, a license, a degree or a certificate showing education (PT, OT, RN, RPh, etc.).

They collect reimbursements until the payers catch them. Several of these clandestine operations have stayed busy submitting invoices for several years before they were closed. How many went to jail? How many quick buck artists walked away? Did any ever return the stolen funds?

The approach our industry has to take, in unison, is to demonstrate how DME/HME providers earn their money. How much pro-bono is provided? We have to identify how the well-trained staff  work with their customers and family caregivers. DME/HME is NOT sufficiently reimbursed to provide supplies, equipment and services to be able stay solvent much longer!

Can a meeting of our industry be arranged to just see how to correct these difficult problems? The state and national associations do a superb job. The buying groups and publications work to address the failures in the system. BUT IF THEY ALL WOULD TEAM TOGETHER, how much more effective will they be? WOW !!!

I would like to hear ideas from you in the front trenches, your ideas how to approach the changing markets, Please e-mail ( your thoughts and I will share them with all.