Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year End Report

Three hundred and sixty five days have passed and at midnight, 12/31/13, they become history. All that happened this year has had some effect in our industry. But what has occurred in the past cannot be changed. It is over! We have made mistakes and we have had successes.

However, we have the ability NOT to make the same mistakes in 2014! So I recommend that when making your plans for the New Year, sit down, relax, and think about what you did NOT do. Find why you may have missed opportunities.

My major disappointment this year was that despite so much effort, we, as an industry, could not get our Congressmen to pass this bill. It is currently still sitting in committee. It must be passed ASAP!

I have had the good fortune over the past 60+ years to work with dealers and speak at many state association and Medtrade meetings. However, I am fortunate that I have been invited to be the GOOD WILL AMBASSADOR for Medtrade. In tomorrow’s blog, the first for 2014, I will prepare a list of some opportunities and recommendations showing how you can work and learn from peers. Everything else that happened in 2013 repeats all of the negatives that have accumulated in the past.

The most refreshing and critical happening in 2013 was the election of Tom Ryan to head up AAHomecare. I have known him for many, many years and I have much confidence in his leadership and ability to approach and resolve problems. 

I will only add one other thought to have in this blog.

“Did you prepare a new business plan for year 2014?”

Have you reviewed your plans with all of your staff? Have you asked your accountant to study it? Remember the “business plan” you write will be the map to guide you throughout the year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Day to Remember

The one best thing that I can say about our industry is that we certainly have more hard working people, doing all that is possible, to protect every DME/HME provider.

I have been very fortunate in that I maintained communication with the state associations. These are run by the people who created A day to remember!
John Shirvinsky was the Pennsylvania DME leader (PAMS). He did so much for the past five years, not just for the Pennsylvania dealers but also for all DME/HME.  His voice was clear and heard. He decided that after seven years he would retire. John will be greatly missed. He earned these accolades!
Karyn Estrella (HOMES) and a half dozen or so of other state association leaders organized a “THANK YOU, JOHN” teleconference. It was recorded and this 45-minute report should brighten everyone’s holiday. This says it all!

Please look at this as a Christmas Gift from your state DME associations. There are about three-dozen state DME associations. A “John Shirvinsky” leads each.

Thelma and I send our best wishes for a very Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 16, 2013


These numbers are probably the most important digits that must be used by a DME/HME provider. They are the method that Medtrade has arranged for dealers to learn and maximize all the information that will be available this Spring in Las Vegas! 

All the changes with reimbursement, Medicare, and Medicaid will be addressed along with others in the industry. You must start preparing ASAP; you have to learn to be aware and know how to turn problems into profits. 

As I reviewed the upcoming 6-4-18 programs, I recognized that they are perfect. If at all possible, attend Medtrade Spring in LV with 1 or 2 staff members. In that fashion, all the seminar series can be attended. Then when you return home, you will be armed and will find the path to continued success. Here are the titles of the 6-4-18 Series: 

a.) RAC, ZPIC, PSC, and CERT audits for HME suppliers: How to effectively respond to requests for documents. 

b.) Financial health: Know your cost. How to initiate and sustain lean process improvement. 

c.) Leadership in HME – A best practice approach. 

d.) The best new HME/cash opportunities.

e.) Operational efficiencies and alternative revenue sources for survival in today’s ever changing HME market.

f.) Educating your customers to increase your cash sales/understanding alternate site/long term care facilities and revenue opportunities within the facilities.

I never saw (and I have attended every Medtrade) such an exciting list of classes.  They call these the  “six building blocks for success in the next 18 months (6-4-18)”.

Here are two additional programs that AAH is sponsoring:

1.) Competitive bidding implementation contractor (CBIS) update.

2.) DME MAC CERT task force: common errors and documental insufficiency. 

Our industry is working with great diligence to wipe out the “competitive bid”. You have to be present to gather all this material. Don’t procrastinate! 

Please be aware that Medtrade Spring at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center is from Monday, March 10th to Wednesday, March 12th. Get your entrance fees paid and room registration now. Please do not wait, tempus fugit!  

Early Bird Rates are still available (available through December 31, 2013).


Monday, December 9, 2013


Thelma and I went to visit our children and grandchildren for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are the same as all of our peers; we have the best family granted us! We took an eight-day vacation and enjoyed every moment of it.
Going home, we had a two-hour delay at the airport before finally leaving for Florida. I was incredibly concerned when I saw such a large number over-overweight folks (obese, really) walking around near us. I then realized what an opportunity this presents for DME companies around the nation: A large market of people suffering from the epidemic of obesity! DME dealers can provide these individuals not only with products to aid with comfort and mobility, but also the products and education they need to help reach a healthier weight.
The United States is a very large country. It is also the home of the largest number of folks whose mobility, health, and lifestyle are strongly limited by obesity. There were three stewardesses also waiting for the flight as we were. Being very bashful, as you are all aware, I struck up a conversation with them. WOW, did I get an earful. At first they did not want to make any comments, but when I told them I write a blog for DME/HME dealers they spoke about this problem. It is the same at every airport!
It appears that based on my estimate of the number of obese Americans, it is an attractive opportunity to build more OTC cash sales.  A friend of mine who has an excellent company in Massachusetts, sponsors a day quarterly, which he called “Weigh In for Good Health.” 
This dealer invited RNs, a dietitian, an MD, and a PT. They all were delighted to participate. He also arranged with the company whose scales he handled and they also brought several units which he did not stock. He had a nurse taking BP of each, the report on his business card.

He began advertising this “Weigh In for Good Health” day a few weeks prior by running an ad in the local newspaper. The paper went a step further and sent a reporter to interview him. Then the reporter attended the open house and took pictures for the paper. It was a great success. That morning they sold a number of scales and BP monitors. More important was the number of new customers this activity brought into his business.
Any new program you plan to be doing requires a great deal of planning. Who will work with your company? Which vendors can you invite? Then, how it will be promoted and most important, when can it be presented? Make sure there is no holiday pending or big sports game on the same day. This can be a great opportunity when done correctly and you will harvest a fine ROI.

Friday, December 6, 2013


I write about maintaining one’s reputation at least twice a year. How does your customer see your company? Your reputation within the community is why they come to you for their supplies!

DME/HME is a people driven industry. The customer recognizes how your company performs daily. This makes it imperative that you are very careful not to allow anything to besmirch it. This is very risky business because you can do ninety-nine things wonderfully and get loads of accolades, but if you make one small mistake everyone will remember it!

Last Fall I met an old friend from the Midwest at Medtrade in Atlanta. His company is independently owned in a community dominated by large markets. He has been very successful, and was kind enough to share how he developed the program which he attributes to his success.

He spoke to the local newspaper and offered to write “Good Health” articles for the Sunday edition of the local paper. In a small town, most every one reads the local papers. This is very different from a big city.

The editor thought it was an interesting idea and my friend agreed to send three articles, each about 300–325 words, for the editor to choose from. He titled these as “Basic Good Health”. The response was so good that the editor published the other two the following Sundays. They made a deal with this proprietor to prepare one “Basic Good Health” column every week.

As a result, he has seen his sales and volume grow rapidly. Resources from your preferred vendors will also bring new ideas. Alexandre Dumas summed this up as “Nothing succeeds like success”.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Unfinished Business

I am very distressed by the fact that another year is almost over and as an industry we still have some unfinished business. AAHomecare has been leading the battle to get legislation passed by Congress to eliminate the “Competitive Bid”. It seems every organization, from the state DME associations to the buying groups, have worked very hard to get HR 1717 out of committee. 

Two years ago, we did our best to get US Representative Price's legislation on the floor. That did not happen! This year we had another opportunity and what has happened? I don’t know! It looks like nothing. We are waiting patiently; begging, pleading, and very few of the officials we “elected” are listening.
Action speaks louder than words. I have spoken with many dealers and providers and I can understand their concern. What I see and hear is very frightening. Our Congress no longer represents the general public. It is so divided that nothing will ever be accomplished until they recognize their responsibility. If our country stays so separated and the elected congressmen will not work with one another, how will the country survive? 
Start today and ask every one of your customers where and from whom they currently receive their supplies as a consequence of the bid. The “winners” of the bids are so scattered and the beneficiaries are experiencing many problems that are being overlooked. Here in Melbourne, patients are obliged to go to Orlando (1 hour) or even to Miami (3 hours), when there are so many excellent dealers “just around the corner.” Too many patients are doing without. Often when they need a refill of oxygen they have to wait! Is this correct?
We must get Congress to recognize that THEY are responsible for every American, not just those who voted for them.  Gather as many complaints as possible, speak to all your customers (patients) and include those who have drifted away. No one can speak louder then they. Armed with this material we can and will get new legislation. Don’t wait for any one else to do this, there is no one else.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


We set aside only one day a year for Thanksgiving. It has always been a wonderful day. I know, because Thelma and I again will be flying up north to be with our children and grandchildren. 

We, as citizens in the United States of America, have more to be grateful for than those in any other country. We can express our opinion on any subject; we can be a Republican, a Democrat, or stand by ourselves. This is a luxury and when you see what happens in many other countries, say, “Thank you.”

The Houses of Worship all set aside this day for special services. We understand and appreciate the many blessings of being a citizen in the United States.

My wife and I are octogenarians. We have lived through a severe depression in the 1930s, World War II and several minor wars. I have questioned why we were involved in a few of these, but never have I failed to support the country. I am a WWII veteran, and I can only praise our military for how much they have accomplished. I do think that we have prevented WWIII, and pray that it will never happen.

Our country has gyrated financially through many smaller “depressions” and now we are watching the stock market explode.

Please use Thanksgiving for the purpose it was intended. Be grateful for what you have. Be satisfied that no matter what happens, your fellow citizens will be there to support you.

Yes, there are still many people seeking employment. Yes, we still have troops in foreign countries. But YES, the United Sates is still the home of the free and the brave. AMEN!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Customer Service

Customer service is more than just saying “Please” and “Thank you”! It is a reflection of everything your company does. You have to train every member of your staff how to work with your customers, be it in person or on the phone.

You and your employees are under constant scrutiny. Your clientele all carefully review each transaction, every conversation, and every phone call. It is incredibly important that your company develop customer service as its primary objective of achievement. This cannot be purchased. It must be developed!

We have spoken with many providers throughout the country about customer service and it appears that the further a company has developed the fine art of customer service, the more successful that company is.

When we broached this to dealers on the Medtrade floor in Orlando, we recognized what separated the more successful operations from the others. The more successful principals all made it a point to hold regularly scheduled meetings with their employees, including the vehicle drivers and the clean-up people - everyone! The topic of each was Customer Service, and as a consequence, they developed a real team attitude from their employees.

The continued growth of your company depends on you and everyone on your staff!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cash OTC Sales

Somehow the term “cash sales” seems to have vanished. I know I use this expression often in these blogs. So here is a reminder: “A cash sale is when the customer purchases the product they need and cash exchanges hands.” Simple, isn’t it? No paper work, no CMN, no prescription! The customer walks out happy and the dealer smiles and says thank you.

Target and Walmart stores are great examples of pure OTC retail operations. Every item on display is in an identified section of the showroom with an affixed price tag. The customer does not have to seek out an item; the signs are like magnets drawing the shoppers to make a purchase. 

Here is the challenge: Visit all the local supermarkets in your community and see how they display their wares. Find the time to walk through the other retail stores on Main Street or in your local shopping mall. How does your company stack up against what they offer?

Your company has an excellent reputation in town. You belong to the Chamber of Commerce; you are a member of Rotary, Kiwanis, or other civic club. You support many church activities. You work with the schools and libraries, and you personally are recognized as a leader. All of this helps develop good will that will enable you to make many additional OTC cash sales.

I would like to hear from you. Please tell me about some of the programs you developed to build OTC cash sales. Most of the marketing ideas I have reported in these blogs were from dealers who used them to succeed.

Please E-mail them to me (shelly.prial@att.net).  Thank you.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Job Descriptions

We recently wrote a special blog entitled “Write A Business Plan.” I am adding another few words to that which I neglected to include. As an industry, we have done everything possible to get new legislation passed and the “competitive bid” eliminated. However, if we are unable to accomplish this, then we will just have to change how we operate and solicit new business. 

Since my business history goes way back to post WWII, I realized that I was constantly changing my approach to the market. The country has always been in constant rotations, and I experienced several downturns and a few wars, all of which made a big difference in how businesses stayed solvent. But no matter what happens, currently I see many opportunities in 2014 to grow and flourish.

As you prepare your operation for next year, take a very good look at each of your employees, including your driver! Be honest with yourself. Are your employees being paid a salary that reflects their value to your company? Every time I visited a dealer, I brought this subject up. To make my point I will quote Elbert Hubbard: “People who never do any more than they get paid for never get paid for any more than they do.” 

I recognize this as an appropriate comment to report as a result of two conversations I had with company principals I met at Medtrade in Orlando. They had each taken my suggestion about writing job descriptions for their employees. It got them good results! 

Prepare job descriptions so each employee is aware of his or her specialty. They also must be prepared to assist in all operations. When this survey is completed, you will then be able to appreciate their value. Those who exceed your expectation should be rewarded with an increase in salary or two tickets to a theatre or dinner at the best restaurant. 

So here is the dilemma. Is everyone on your pay-role doing all that you expect? Are the self-limiting employees salvageable? Should they be replaced? When we spoke about this problem, each principal decided to have a talk with those employees. They would discuss the growth plans of the company. They would outline rewards if the employee contributed to their success and to leave the unspoken threat of dismissal on the table. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Older Clientele Again

On October 30th, I wrote a blog about the potential of servicing senior citizens, "Older Clientele". Today I received a call from a dealer who assured me that the interest is definitely there. I agree! Building additional sales by working with senior citizens is correct.

The provider who called me operates a company in a midsize town in New England. He asked me what I thought would be the best way to reach this market?

Older clientele are a little different, so the best way to cater to this segment of the market is to change a few things in your showroom. These potential customers are probably peers with your parents, so when you see what your folks like and do, there is some of the answer.

Most senior citizens are members of a house of worship senior group. I never realized before I looked into this that there are so many “elder” clubs and they all have a large number of attendees.

Make contact with one and offer to sponsor the “coffee and doughnuts” at a meeting. This is a rather a small investment, but it develops a fine ROI. Tell them you would like to speak about products and some ideas for safety and comfort in the home. Bring speakers from the various companies whose products you handle. 

I also suggest you run a special advertisement in your local newspaper for 12 weeks. Arrange to have your ad always appear in the same place. When I was a DME dealer, I always placed my ads on the obituary page. Those ads were always successful. Each quarter, I offered a different comfort item. One quarter we featured a Ride-a-Stair unit, another time a great hospital type bed, then a new tub, and even an exercise bicycle. They were all OTC cash sale items!

There are so many similar comfort items, all comparatively inexpensive and are over the counter cash sales. Very often, some of our senior citizens told us about an item they saw and we followed all these up as leads. We ended up selling very expensive mattresses. Via word of mouth, we developed a very excellent following. Our store became an attractive place to see what we displayed.

When I or one of my staff went to a meeting, the comments were always “great ad” and became a trademark for my company. By always having our advertisement placed on the obituary page, it was seen by all the readers.

Monday, November 11, 2013

All Alone

Today DME/HME is looking at a new industry. What you did yesterday may no longer be applicable anymore. Reimbursements for services provided by CMS and Medicare are greatly reduced and they want to chop them down even further. Very often, the profits are so small that it becomes ludicrous. They are opening new “territories” via the “Competitive Bid” and many more dealers may be forced out of business.
But you are not ALL ALONE! DME/HME will continue to flourish, and you will always stay in business, solvent, and growing. You will become a marketer. You will take the role of a leader, and your company will be at the forefront of change.
Look around! Are the automobiles being sold the same way they were 10 or 15 years ago? Basically they are, but the manufacturers are offering them very differently. Price has always been a factor for any product but never has that stopped someone from purchasing the vehicle they like and want.
The grocery super-markets address this problem in an interesting fashion. Buy one – get one (BO-GO)! This is really new, with a history of perhaps only five or six years.  Now they want you to purchase two of something when you only needed one. I approve of this because it makes you think about how, why, or where to shop.
Special sales running from midnight to 9:00 AM or similar hours are also effective. These attract shoppers and give the impression they are giving away the store - they aren’t! They want you to come to their showroom. I spoke with a manager at one of the local department stores and he told me that for every “bargain” item purchased, two or more other items were also sold.
Don’t stand all alone. Work with your vendors and prepare better and bigger promotions. Look for new items that will fit your company, as we have been saying - OTC CASH SALES. Become the leader in your community and become the BEST marketer possible.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


We are so close to getting the obnoxious “competitive bid” legislation changed, but we still must rattle every congressman’s office. There is only a short period of time remaining before Congress leaves DC and the legislators return home for the Holidays. Yes, tempus fugit.

Our voice must be heard NOW. I am frightened when I think of the alternative. The existing Competitive Bid is now beginning to cover the country. It must be stopped!

Henry Kissinger reminded me that, “The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.”  If we fail in our efforts to get HR1717 onto the floor of congress and passed, what is the alternative?

I will not answer that question! You each must! As far as I am concerned, I will never slow down or cease my activities to get the yoke currently around our necks changed to the fair MPP legislation (HR1717). WE CAN ACCOMPLISH THAT!

I refer you to the recent blogs which I called “80/20” and “This Very Moment!” I sent them as a call to arms. If everyone who reads these blogs will do as I ask, make those phone calls, our voices will be heard.

I am confident that we can win. As I see what dealers and providers are doing, I get very excited. A group of dealers in Jacksonville got together and met with both Senators and their Congressman’s staff to present a list of the difficulties for the recipients and beneficiaries of Medicare - I am sorry to say that it is a long list. The problems experienced by the seniors, the infirm, and bed ridden American citizens who depend on Medicare is a nightmare. The legislators were not aware of most of this, therefore to succeed we all must continue our efforts to make these issues known to our elected officials.

Vince Lombardi said “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Therefore, we must score now and then we can relax.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This Very Moment!

The previous blog we posted (80/20) asked that we ALL work together and do everything in our power to get

out of committee on to the floor of Congress and passed. 

When you finish reading this blog, please pick up the phone and call your Representative, STAT.  The local address and phone number is listed in the telephone directory. Let his staff know how upset your customers are and how they are grumbling about the problems the Competitive Bid has created, the difficulty all your patients have because of the lack of service, and the time spent traveling or locating a vendor. It is imperative that these issues be reported.

Ask them to support HR1717. 

Congress will be closing their doors in a very few days for the Holidays. They must be informed how the average senior citizen and bed-ridden folks will be affected. They all vote, and you would be proud to announce that their Congressman is on their side. You will become a “cheerleader” and will let all your clientele know that their Congressman supported HR1717.

They vote, you vote, your employees vote! You will see to it that your customers, patients and family caregivers will also be their supporters. 


Monday, November 4, 2013


There are only a few days remaining in 2013 to reach your Congressman. It is imperative that you contact your elected representative in Washington before Thanksgiving and Christmas. We failed dismally last year to get the bill to replace the Competitive Bid legislation passed on the floor of congress. 

Certainly AAHomecare, the state DME associations, HMENews, HomeCareMagazine and VGM, worked as hard as they possibly could last year, but we all failed to get the new legislation out to become the law. This year they are working even harder. They are the 20% who try and the other 80% who sit and watch must become active.
Today we have a major challenge! There are only a few weeks remaining to get
out of committee and to Congress to be passed.

As I view this situation it becomes more clear that the 80/20 count seems to dominate. Out of every 100 DME/HME dealers who should be battling with every bit of strength they have, only 20 are truly fighting. The other 80 must get up and speak up to get HR 1717 passed.

This is directed to those 80 dealers who are sitting back and waiting. Become active STAT. Don’t wait until you are driven out of business. Get on the phone and call your Congressman ASAP. Speak to the local office manager. Leave a message for the HLA and to the team in DC.  We must work hard to pass this legislation.

It is vital that every Medicare or Medicaid recipient and senior citizen is able shop where they wish. As the balance of the country is added to participate under the Competitive Legislation, it will be too late.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Older Clientele

I heard from an old friend this past weekend that we met some 63 years ago. He and his wife are the same age as Thelma and I. Naturally the first question we asked one-another was, “How are you feeling?"
All four of us are octogenarians and are grateful that we are able to enjoy every day the GOOD LORD blessed us with. It is people like us who are the best market available for DME/HME providers. Today, we are the fastest growing segment of the population and the greater bulk of us have more discretionary dollars than those before us.
You must cater to this market. In previous blogs I have made it a point that your showroom must always be brightly lit. Senior citizens, many of them who have poor or diminished eyesight, are attracted when things stand out. Take notice how Target and other major companies do this. All aisles must have a sign explaining what type of products they contain, such as diabetics, BP, first aid, or paper products.
While checking how to get more light into your showroom, remember to have every visible item on display “price-marked.” If not priced, you may lose that sale. I know that Thelma and I never ask for a price. If it is not visible we walk on. This can be true for many of our peers.
Be sure every one in your establishment is wearing a nametag. You and your sales people should greet all customers, not just seniors. Never address by a first name unless they are personal friends.
Give your senior citizen clientele all the attention possible. Their family caregivers often stop in to look at items their patients would like to obtain. This happens very often and the family caregiver will make the purchase.
I give this message at least twice a year. I feel this market, senior citizens, must become a prime one for every DME/HME dealer. You can make that happen.

Monday, October 28, 2013


iWalk 2.0
by iWalk-Free
An exciting new addition to Medtrade was the “Retail Design Center”. Since most of the blogs we send are about OTC cash sales, this was the place everyone needed to stop and visit.

These displays were not “Simple Simon” showing his wares. In this arena they opened a “Pandora’s Box” filled with exciting new products that would be very appropriate for DME/HME, and that I knew would be perfect for OTC cash sales.

But if you did not see them in person and think about your clientele, then you could not truly appreciate the opportunities. I believe there were 21+ manufacturers who brought their new goodies, and to me this represents 21 new profitable items. I even saw “underwear” and next generation “socks” that your clientele would love.

There were many more OTC items available on the exhibition floor, but you had to have been there. My words are insufficient; seeing is believing. I will only name the five companies who were winners of the awards:

Royal-EZ – ComfortTek Seating
iWalk2.0 Hands Free Crutch-  iWalk-Free
EVE - Joint Solutions
Next Generation Socks – Nufoot

Wellness Briefs & Underwear – Unique Wellness
Nufoot Next Generation Socks
You didn’t have to seek them out; HMENews reported this on the front page of the second show daily.

I am going to present HMENews the first “Shelly” award (somewhat like a Pulitzer Prize) for the yeoman task they do at all the Medtrade shows. It is always been a must to read what HMENews provides. Thank you!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Write A New Business Plan

A new business plan is the equivalent of drawing a map with directions to reach your goals. I learned this as a freshman in college and have since put it to valuable use; preparing a new business plan annually.

When I graduated from Brooklyn College of Pharmacy, I sat down with my wife, and together we wrote a "business" plan. I had a job paying $50.00/week working in my father’s pharmacy and she was hired to teach 3rd grade in East Meadow, NY earning $2,400 a year (no joke). In 1950, believe it or not, we felt like we were “in the chips.”

We sat down to etch a plan for our future. My goal was to open my own pharmacy and she was prepared to support everything we decided to do and have children. We succeeded in doing both. It took about a year before we had the courage to open our first pharmacy. My partner was a classmate, a decorated veteran who fought the war in the Pacific. Teamed together we were very fortunate. We opened in a very small village, Rosedale, NY, and our pharmacy flourished. I am sure you know the rest of the story.

The point I wish to make here is that we wrote a new business plan every December. My partner and I spent many hours sketching out where we thought our best paths would take us. By this careful planning, we were able to grow much faster than we anticipated.

We sat down with our accountant to determine where the bulk of our sales came from, the average profit of each segment and the amount of inventory needed. We studied our market. We looked at every business in Rosedale and at our competition. By undergoing this process, we were able to see many new opportunities.

I can assure you that if done diligently, it will enable you to expand your annual volume. Think abut the opportunities with OTC cash sales. Think about sending out salespeople and think about your showroom.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Should I?

Many of the dealers and providers I spoke to at Medtrade had questions which I tried to answer. There is no doubt that these are trying times, and we must be able to make changes. The principals of DME/HME companies are frightened by the Competitive Bid legislation and wondering how it will affect them when it arrives in their town. Very often our conversation started with this question: “Should I try, or should I look the other way?”

If you decide to give it a try, that will keep your name on the bidder’s list. If you do not, whether for the current legislation (competitive bid) or any other offered, your company may be removed from the solicitation list. So please look at every request that comes your way. Please submit your answers with fair prices; you don’t want to be the lowest bidder - there will always be a company willing to give away the store! That company often will provide poor or no customer service and may fail. However, when you are still on the bidders list for CMS, Medicare or whoever requested pricing, they will then turn to you.

If you have been awarded a bid, make sure you maintain sufficient inventory to give STAT service. Since you are a winner, be sure you regularly call on who sent you the request. If it was CMS or Medicare, be sure all possible referral sources are visited, especially the physicians. Be sure to notify all your customers that your company has been accepted as a vendor. Now you want to solicit to all the business that emanate from them. When I say “solicit,” I mean not just the items that were bid for, but also for the multitude of other items they may require.

When I was in New England, I won a small bid for some items I routinely sold (stethoscopes, BP monitors etc.) for the prisons in Massachusetts. There were about a dozen jails scattered throughout the state. I made it a point to visit each at least once a month. They had the ability to purchase what they required as long as it did not exceed a maximum which I believe was $500.  We always made a great deal of sales for the other items, which were not on the bid list. The sales for those items added up to BIG dollars. We soon discovered our company was the only one who routinely called on the prison system routinely.

So should your company bid for new business? The answer is YES!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reflections: A Different Medtrade Part 3

These are very trying times for DME/HME dealers. The ability to eliminate the “Competitive Bid” legislation, which is constantly on everyone’s lips, is the problem we face.  I spoke with many dealers on the exhibition floor and almost all were concerned.  What is happening can be addressed, but this requires much more than “what can I do?”

I asked every person that I talked to if they belong to AAHomecare and their state DME association. A great percentage of them did!  These are the folks have always been the backbone of our profession, but they are in a minority because far too many providers or dealers do not belong!  I am comfortable that after this Medtrade many more will realize that if they do not belong there will be no one to fight for them.

Cara Bachenheimer (Invacare) once again delivered a positive message.  Her session assured us that CMS would do the right thing; the “face-to-face” requirement is a problem.  But Cara is satisfied this will be moderated.  After hearing her, I am sure many of the attendees will now become team players.

Mark Higley (VGM) spoke a great deal about the current ACA legislation.  There will be many

changes made by Congress but he feels (as I do) that the Affordable Care Act will prove to be beneficial for DME/HME.

I was unable to attend many of the talks and classes I would have liked.  But when speaking with attendees, they were all very pleased with what they saw and heard.  This ability to meet and speak with the staff of AA Homecare and with state association officers is the key to why it is imperative that every DME/HME dealer attend.  Medtrade is where you find out what to do, where to go and who are your allies.

Mal Mixon (Invacare) reached back his day as a Marine Corps officer: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  With people like Mal on our team there is no question this year at the Medtrade Exhibition was so important.  We all can make changes that we should have done years ago.

Many attendees had the opportunity for delightful refreshment at the BEER GARDEN (thank you Infopia USA). We all worked hard, but even more important is that we all join forces.

If we are to get the politicians in DC to respond, we have to show them that we are all working together and the problems we ask them to resolve are not just from DME/HME dealers or providers. We have tremendous support from all our customers, patients and family caregivers. They have to understand that we work closely with the physicians, nurses, hospitals and rehab clinics in our communities.  DME is an integral partner in the chain of health care support in the United States.

What we have is formidable, the ability to help elect or re-elect those who support us.   A vote is more important than a dollar to keep those Congressmen who support us in office.  Let us all follow the lead of a few dealers in Florida who met with their Congressman and he is now a good friend.

You can see that Medtrade is a great deal more than just vendors and dealers sharing time.  DME, rehab, IV, PT & OT and every facet of healthcare is addressed.   The cost to attend; carfare, room and board is so minute, but the ROI for this investment is that your company will continue to flourish and grow.  That is what MEDTRADE means!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reflections: A Different Medtrade Part 2

As it could've been expected, there was slightly less traffic at Medtrade in Orlando. However, the attendees that came were ready to do business and looking for solutions.  They were planning to survive & thrive (as VGM put it) in this new landscape.  They came to Orlando to seek new opportunities and other products, which their company could feature to develop new OTC cash sales.  

Opportunities galore! Upon arrival, I sashayed to the new product pavilion. This was like a magnet because dealers were standing in line waiting for their turn to see all the “goodies.” There were many!
You know, if I still were a dealer, one of the ideas I like was to start selling inexpensive clothing designed for use in any facility.  I saw from some vendors new clothing items that are easy to wash and dry and comfortable for the patient. There also was a vendor bringing linens designed for use by patients at home or institutionalized. These items are very specific, sturdy and easily maintained. I can see the bed-ridden patients and senior citizens at these facilities that would benefit from these special items for their comfort.  There were the vendors bringing so many new items and approaches and I tried to see them all.
Another sight for sore eyes was the “Emerging Company Pavilion".  This to me was a high spot!  You are able to make a great living without depending on “competitive bid” dollars. Keep what you already have but put all your efforts to develop more OTC cash sales.  That is the path to be on!
I participated in the “welcome” session for new attendees. It was a pleasant surprise that so many attendees got up early.  Kevin Gaffney outlined what could be found on the exhibition floor.  When I spoke to a number of these entrepreneurs I saw the future of  DME/HME growing in their good hands.
The “Washington Update” followed this; Jay Witter (AAHomecare) brought everyone
up-to-date on what is happening in DC, which can affect our business. He made it very clear that”:

1.)   Yes, we face many difficult times!
2.)   We can beat them all by working together.


It is reassuring when we all heard what Jay and the teams at AAHomecare are doing.
I left that session with enthusiasm recognizing how much AAHomecare means to the entire health care industry. We must all give them our 100% support. They are in a position to get results and this new team led by Tom Ryan will do just that! I would like to see every dealer or provider become a dues paying member of AAHomecare (as well as their state DME association).
When Tom Ryan spoke, I relaxed, and recognized that he is the person we need to guide our industry. If you have not already signed on, please do so STAT.  It was the largest attendance that I can recall. We met so many friends and associates and got more hugs and kisses than ever.
Tuesday evening the staff of HomeCare Magazine had a “meet the new team” get together for the Board with the staff. They are filled with refreshing ideas and the magazine will stay in the forefront as a leader.
Thelma and I next went to the annual AAHomecare STAND UP FOR HOMECARE RECEPTION fundraiser. AAHomecare awarded Scott Meuser (Pride) and yours truly for our contributions on behalf of the profession. All I can say is “thank you”, however the award should have been given to Thelma. All these years she has kept me on line and worked as my partner!
In the Show News Daily #3, published by HME News they reported “GET IN THERE”, a small gathering of DME providers (all located in Florida District 8) and reported how they contacted their Congressman Bill Posey.  They have earned his full support for HR1717 and he is helping get additional help from Congress.
Colleen Hunter (Browning's Pharmacy) and Gene Sego (Sego's Home Medical Equipment),
both independent dealers from Central Florida, led the session.  There were other passionate HME/DME providers also in attendance at the meeting including Donna Sammon of Browning’s Pharmacy; Kamen Jenkins of Wuesthoff Home Medical; and Greg Bonenberger of Brevard HME.  

Colleen Hunter said, “We want to let everyone know it can be done.”  Gene spoke about how much the beneficiaries are suffering, as we are so aware.  Congressman Bill Posey (R FL-8) sent two of his staff to attend and visit Medtrade.

My hope is this effort will be replicated throughout the United States with the co-operation of the state DME associations.  We must get HR 1717 passed and the “Competitive Bid” eliminated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reflections: A Different Medtrade Part 1

The Medtrade Exhibition and Conference meetings are a reflection of the country and of the economy.  Times are rapidly changing and so is Medtrade.  This was reflected this past week in Orlando.

Despite what was happening outside the exhibition hall, activity inside was running rapidly without missing a step!  Since I have been fortunate in having had the ability to attend every Medtrade since it’s inception, I CAN say that for DME/HME there is “no other important opportunity available which rivals Medtrade!”

To be able to meet with peers from all over the U.S. coupled with the ability to work with vendors is the heart of the show.  This is a very important ability for your company. 

How many seminars were made available to attend? OVER 100 and most lecture rooms were filled to capacity!
How many vendors were displaying their wares and with new products? OVER 550!  And, there were over 80 new exhibitors with unique products from last year. 

The ability to speak with and work with the officers of the associations who keep our industry stable and your company informed is very important.  These days are filled with problem after problem, which have to be resolved.  Your participation will keep them effective to accomplish this.

Thirty-six of the states associations that make up the United States of America were in attendance and had representatives at their desks on the show floor.

AAHomecare, the D.C. center of activity, was working diligently for as many attendees as possible.
  The industry must understand and appreciate the horror of the current legislation and when it reaches every one it will be too late to do anything!  If the “competitive bid” legislation is not changed to the pending MPP bill (H.R. 1717) it will affect every recipient and all your clientele.  Every patient and their family caregiver will then have great difficulty in obtaining their supplies and oxygen from you. 

Ask them to join with you in these efforts, otherwise they will be running all over to find the “lowest bidder”. The low bidder will only care about  money not at all about the patients. You must become active! This catastrophe must not be allowed to happen.
If you currently are NOT a dues paying member of AAHomecare and your state DME association please join now.  Then, we can meet again at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas.

Yes, this was indeed a different Medtrade.