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.