Friday, August 30, 2013

The Meeting Place

Over many years, most of the important contacts I made were at the “meeting place.” This is how I describe Medtrade, as this is how the show most certainly should be described.

When I talk to many of the speakers and various association officers who share their knowledge at Medtrade. They all agree that Medtrade is the “meeting place.”

Since I have had the good fortune of participating in every Medtrade since its inception, one thing has become crystal clear. Indeed, this is where things happen! 

When you are opening your e-mail, you will find two important messages every Monday. These are announcements from Medtrade and HomeCare Magazine. You will also discover many valuable notices of information on the web reported by HMENews.

There are reports about the activities at Medtrade almost daily both in these emails and on social media. Each is important for every DME/HME provider to help them during these trying times. I just cannot imagine why some dealers do not attend. There are only a few weeks until October 8-10. Please be sure you are there, because . . . unless you are present you will miss many important opportunities. These will provide you and your company with vital information for survival .

Too much is hanging over every DME/HME provider's head. But when you learn what you can do from the speakers and meet the people who make decisions, then you will know how to cope. With every business expense, there has to be an ROI. The ROI for this Medtrade in Orlando will be better than ever.

Don't forget to use the promotional code MTShelly when registering to get your free expo pass!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Modest Telemarketing

I receive more than 150 e-mails a day. As all of you do, I only open those that I think are appropriate. Many of those can be best described as a form of modest telemarketing.
For the average DME/HME provider, this is a means of communication, and one which is effective because it is gentle. Very quietly you are doing a few things such as saying thank you for a purchase, sending information or a message to a family caregiver. Yes, you are in charge.
When any customer, Medicare, Medicaid or HMO obtains a piece of equipment from your company, an opportunity is presented to you. You should send an e-mail the day after delivery was made (telemarketing) asking if they were satisfied. Ask if there are any problems they wish to discuss, and leave your personal number if they should need additional service.
If they ask you about new or other items, the opening is there. Keep track of the date of the call. Periodically send them a mailing with a specific product that is suitable or works well with what they bought.
Depending on what item they obtained, I would suggest a second telemarketing memo. If the product is for short period use, perhaps send the message in two weeks, if the product is more for long term use, send your message after a month. Once again, introduce yourself and make this a very friendly inquiry into how they are faring and if the equipment is doing everything they anticipated.
Please be sure you do no soliciting during these first e-mails. They are to establish communication and build your reputation. When the caretaker patient needs something else, they will remember the caring dealer who inquired about how they were doing. Occasionally, when you do send a “solicitation” it will be looked at differently.
Well, this is not telemarketing in the traditional format, but it sure can be effective. I know that when you establish this type of relationship, your customers will remember you and contact your company first. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Getting Things Accomplished

DME/HME dealers must all roll up their sleeves now and get into the battle to save their companies! I have been speaking about this for a long time. HMENews and HomeCare Magazine have been writing about what everyone can do to pass HR1717 and eliminate the “Competitive" Bid.  At the October Medtrade in Orlando, you will be apprised of what else you can do!

I have been corresponding with dealers in many parts of the country and the reports I receive all auger well. I am going to share this one, from a DME/HME dealer who delivered a strong message.

As seen in the MedtradeMonday story "I Am the HME Industry - Colleen E. Hunter", this came from  Ms. Colleen Hunter, CPA, President,  Browning's Pharmacy & Health Care, Inc., in Melbourne, FL:

“Our company was invited to our local Chamber last Friday for a roundtable discussion with Governor Scott.  We were invited as we have been a member of the Chamber for many years as this is our 51st year in business.

I was eager to go to be able to get the opportunity to let the governor know some issues facing Florida due to the negative impacts of competitive bidding.  He greeted each of us individually and was very personable.

I spoke on seeing the future of Medicare Part A hospital rates increasing due to longer stays in the hospital due to the lack of access to equipment for discharge.  Patients are paying for equipment they need out of pocket that would normally be covered under their insurance.

The thing he said that left me in amazement was that if we do not represent ourselves in Tallahassee and fight for our industry we can bet that someone else is there and what they want will negatively impact us.  I have never enjoyed being political, but that was how my father built our business, by being involved.  It may be uncomfortable, expensive and just not right but we all need to join together for a common goal.”

Colleen, “Thank you” for taking the time to send us your report. I will publish any reports that I receive which are of interest and will give ideas for other dealers to take action. Please send them to me <>.

If you are among the DME/HME dealers that has not yet registered for Medtrade, please use the code MTShelly to get a Free Expo Pass.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Universal Voice

As an industry, DME/HME has been recognized as a very professional industry. Dealers and providers, despite every problem and difficulty thrown their way, continue to give extremely good service, often pro bono, and take the needs of their clientele very seriously.

AAHomecare, the state DME associations, the buying groups, the publications, and the myriad of speakers and professionals all speak about “What to do.” They see the disaster facing our industry and are frightened of what will happen if we do not get HR1717 passed. Many visualize the number of companies who will be affected dramatically and how many may close their doors. All of this is so detrimental and we see how they are all doing their best on behalf of the industry.

I look at this very differently. If we had a single, forceful, common voice, it would be heard. The government estimates there are more than 15,000 DME/HME dealers in the country. But, if you total the number of dealers who are actual dues paying members of their state association and AAHomecare, you will understand my anxiety.

We have no choice, we must make every effort to get as close to 100% of the dealers on board, and we will then have a UNIVERSAL VOICE that will be heard.

To successfully get through the next year, it will require every dealer to get involved. If you are currently a member of both AAHomecare and your state association, you have made a giant step, and will survive. If you only belong to one, please make it both.

Now I ask the vast number of uncommitted dealers: Will you be able to survive alone, by yourself, and for how much longer? Let us keep our industry flourishing and keep the number of dealers from decreasing. The cost is so little, and the benefits of membership are so vital. WE WILL CREATE A UNIVERSAL VOICE!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Who Listens?

What is wrong with the Competitive Bid?  Who listens?

We lived through Round 1, and now we are in Round 2. Where is this leading? Further reductions on reimbursements, more providers and dealers being forced out of business, and an outcry from patients due to a lack of service. Yet CMS and Congress do not hear a thing.

When DME/HME dealers appeal for some help, the response many legislators have given is that the dealer is “only worried about his or her” profit dollars, not the recipients. Sure they are, but that is not what our industry’s main concern is; it is our patients.

We worry about our customers: the bed-ridden grandmothers, fathers and mothers trapped in wheelchairs, parents with great difficulty walking while using their walkers or canes, all unable to ambulate properly. These are many of our clientele. These are the people who are house bound and they are whom we worry about.

They all have family caregivers who try to fill the gap and who suffer sometimes more than the patient. They are frustrated by these problems and they also ask: Who listens?

Congress will listen to the patients. They vote, their families vote, their friends and peers all vote! They are the heart of the electorate, and Congress and CMS will hear their voices. When speaking directly to legislators, whenever we presented a list of patient complaints, they listened.

You know what's wrong, and so do your patients. When we showed them the list of complaints AAHomecare gathered, that was when we got the attention we needed. So please put together a list of problems such as: 1) difficulty receiving supplies, 2) change of provider, 3) cost to beneficiary increase, 4) difficulty finding new provider, and 5) general confusion.

All this is what they will listen to and that will be the way to show the politicians the competitive bid is NOT working.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Special Memo to Each State DME Association:

I wish to report how a dozen independent DME dealers in District 8, Florida, got together to meet with their congressman. Because of the great reception they had, I hope that we can see many similar programs to get HR1717 passed.

There are only a few weeks left before the congressmen return to DC. We cannot allow what happened last year, when we fell short on our efforts to get the competitive bid legislation eliminated, to happen again. So please contact all your members and show them what was done in Florida.

These DME dealers got together on their own and went to Congressman Posey’s local office to speak with his office manager. They explained how their patients were complaining about a lack of service and their ability to get their supplies locally. This was as a consequence of the “bid,” patients were forced to obtain their supplies great distances away in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and other out-of-state bid “winners." It was chaos, and many chose to go without rather than chase their supplies across the state.

Posey's office manager recognized how this affected their electorate and made arrangements for Congressman Posey, District 8, to meet with these dealers. The results were phenomenal. They explained everything from the patient’s point of view while being very professional and polite. No raised voices of anger, just facts.

Congressman Posey told us that he had already signed on to HR 1717. Since I had been invited, and attended this meeting, I will tell you that deep respect was there as we joined forces. So much so, that during the very first week of his summer holiday, Cong. Posey sponsored another meeting. This time with his Chief of Staff, Stuart Burns. The members prepared a loose-leaf binder with pages of pertinent information. They and Congressman Posey have bonded, and you all must do the same with your district's public officials!

There are some 550 districts in the United States, each with many DME/HME dealers. They are the troops and you are their captains! Can you contact the other members in your area and ask them to do the same?

I do not want to contemplate what will happen if we fail to get the Competitive Bid Legislation replaced. Please give this effort primary consideration. There are only a few weeks remaining before they return to DC.

Thank you,


Monday, August 19, 2013

Medtrade in Orlando

Orlando is probably the most popular place in the United States to hold a convention. Invariably they have the largest number of attendees and the finest exhibitors participate. This fall (October 8 to 10), with so much at stake, I anticipate the best Medtrade ever!

My wife and I only live about 65 miles from the Orange County Convention Center. We are so excited as we look forward to seeing many friends and walking the exhibition floor.

I have seen the preliminary list of speakers, and holy Toledo, the rooms will be filled to capacity! I have looked at the names of exhibitors, spoken with many, and they are all coming prepared to help you find new opportunities to greatly expand your company.

I have already studied the potential opening talks and special programs where we can learn how things stand with HR1717, and all the potential swords of Damocles hanging over our heads. If ever it was vital to attend Medtrade, this is the year.

Please watch for the MedtradeMonday reports in your email and on Medtrade's Twitter and Facebook accounts so that you can plan now “who, what, when and how” you will do there. Also, try to bring as many staff members as is practical, since no one person will be able to gather all the material and information that will be available at Medtrade Fall in Orlando.

If you have yet to register for Medtrade, please use the promotional code MTShelly to get a Free Expo Pass.

See you there!

Friday, August 16, 2013


The announcement has been made that Tom Ryan will be the new President and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. It is with great joy and anticipation that this news is received; I know our entire industry joins me in giving Tom our best wishes.

Tom Ryan, new President and CEO of AAHomecare

Tom is replacing Tyler Wilson, who has held that post since 2006.

Tyler did a wonderful job for both AAHomecare and the industry. We all express our sincere gratitude for everything Tyler has achieved!

We tremble as we look ahead and see storm clouds gathering over our industry's head. I know I speak for all of us when I say, “Tom, we are with you! Count upon us for support as you guide us through the adversity we face."

I recall when Tom, with a great deal of confidence, launched Homecare Concepts close to 30 years ago in Farmingdale, NY.  With both the talents and drive he has, we will see many solutions in his new role.

There is one problem Tom faces which we can resolve rather promptly. AAHomecare needs to get many more “dues paying active members” so that it can continue in the battle against the competitive bid legislation currently in force, and replace it with the Market Pricing Program (HR1717).

I spoke with him about this and he put things so succinctly:

The future of our industry will be shaped by the strength of our voice and the only way for our voice to resonate is to increase our memberships today!

All I can add to his comment is for the many DME/HME dealers and providers who have enjoyed the benefits of the accomplishments of AAHomecare for years, it is critical for you to please join now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Create New Sales

One of the highest pleasures I receive comes when a DME/HME provider sends me an e-mail ( with a comment. I am happy to say that most of them are complimentary.

However, when I get one with negative criticism, I study it very carefully to understand why it was sent. Invariably, I find myself in agreement with the comment and answer them with a “Thank you.”

What does this do to “create” new sales? Responding correctly is everything!

For example: Say “Thank you” to your referral source when you receive a new client. This little greeting will build much good will when the source realizes how important this is for both you and the patient.  It shows your appreciation as well as that of the patient who now will become a client.

Make yourself (which means your company) available to speak at schools, churches, local socials and business clubs about “First Aid,” or other such topics. It is interesting because when I did this, my weeks were filled with at least one or two invitations. My talks were brief, about 20 minutes followed by Q&A. The only "commercial" was that most of the audience went home with my business card!

Contact all of the public schools and offer your services to talk about accident prevention, first aid, or even just crossing the street. Usually the school nurse informed me what she would like me to speak about and mostly it was what I had already prepared.

You will always be creating new sales by being visible and active in the community.   

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Yes, Now It Is Your Turn

A group of DME/HME providers in Florida realized that they must take matters in their own hands to protect their livelihood. They were able to work out a special meeting (which was mentioned in the blog, "Congressmen are Home") with their local congressman. I was invited to attend and left very impressed by how much can be done by every DME dealer in the country.

These dozen or so local DME dealers have their companies in Florida, District 8, and our representative is Bill Posey. The first thing Congressman Posey did was to call for a special session with his Chief of Staff, Stuart Burns. This meeting has helped strengthen the bond between the dealers and the congressman.

Florida, District 8 DME dealers and Shelly meeting with Congressman Posey's Chief of Staff, Stuart Burns.
Congress is now home from DC for their annual summer vacation. The interactions I witnessed at this important meeting left me very impressed with these local DME dealers; they once again did a terrific job. They discussed and shared problems and made very impressive arguments. Not one of the dealers came in with a chip on their shoulder and each explained how their patients have suffered. They also shared a great deal more.

AAHomecare provided a tremendous amount of critical information. This was all organized and presented in three-hole loose-leaf binder, itemized and with brief explanations. Mr. Burns expressed both his and Congressman Posey’s thanks. They promised they would continue to lead the fight to pass HR1717 and work to help all of his electorate.

You can each do this. There are more than 525 districts in the U.S. and in each have many DME/HME dealers who can do the same.

If you need the name and telephone number of the Chief of Staff of each congressman, I have that information ( BUT, you must do this now, because the balance of the summer will be over quickly and you will have missed your opportunity. There is far too much at stake now! Please get to the phone STAT. 

Call your peers to save your future!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


What a bargain? Only $200!

Write your check of only $200, payable to the STOP Competitive Bidding Fund, and mail to:

c/o AAHomecare 
1707 “L” Street NW, Ste. 350
Washington, DC 20036


I am in my 87th year and retired, yet my wife Thelma and I feel this is so important that we have sent our check.

Please do this, since so much is at stake for both our industry and your company.

Thank you,


Monday, August 5, 2013

Congressmen Are Home

Yes, our Congress has worked so hard battling with one another that they all seem to have forgotten the electorate who put them in office. Most elections have been so close that each and every elected official must start remembering ALL of the electorate, not just the people who voted for them.

The “Affordable Care Act,” also known as “ObamaCare," is a giant step forward, but it is NOT perfect. However, the Senators and Congressmen we have sent to Washington must hear what the electorate has to say. American citizens are in favor of legislation that will provide health care at affordable costs and will include as many people as possible.

The electorate demands that the republican and democratic legislators set aside any “politics” and together bring about the changes to make this work. There will never be a perfect program, but they can make the Affordable Care Act work.

The congressman are home now, so you can and must go see them. It is their annual summer holiday. Here in Florida, where I live, a meeting  has been scheduled with our congressman, Bill Posey. A number of local DME/HME dealers and others will attend this special meeting this week at a local university. We all are bringing our suggestions, ideas and questions.

With the help of AAHomecare I have prepared a presentation, which features a list of patient complaints recorded through July 29. I have segregated those from Florida and I know Congressman Posey will be impressed. Also included is a message to support HR1717 with a list of the other supporters. Copies included are letters from the United Spinal Association, “Myths,” and a letter sent to Rep Bruce Braley.