Friday, May 29, 2015

A Little History

I have accumulated a great deal of interesting history about our DME/HME industry. I really know that Tom Antone was one of the first leaders, and to him we still owe a great deal of gratitude. He began many of the programs that we are all following today. Our profession is so fortunate today to have another Tom guiding all of us once again: Tom Ryan.

When you review the list of people that have led us after Tom Antone’s term ended, you will get the same feeling I did. DME/HME has been so fortunate to have the many fabulous people who have done so much. Today DME/HME has the same recognition as do other health professionals: MD, Pharmacy, Nursing, etc. I am so impressed by how this has developed.

The work that AAHomecare and the state DME Associations do along with the other support groups like VGM and MED is truly spectacular. We are so fortunate to have them. This all happened because of how they began under the guidance Tom Antone and those who followed his lead.

I found a quote from Tom Antone, which is as applicable today as it was in 1999: “This industry can survive because demand will grow. It just can't be the same industry.”
At that time Tom Antone headed the National Association for Medical Equipment Services. Brilliant!

Consider how important the annual Medtrade meetings in Atlanta and Las Vegas are to the growth of your companies! Then say, “THANK YOU,” and count your blessings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Do You Belong?

I have always been impressed by the many ways DME/HME people respond to unanticipated problems. No one ever seems to react the same way! It makes no difference who you are, where you work, or where you live. Things always constantly appear to be “happening". But, how you respond to any of these difficulties, which can affect your future?
Think before you react!

Never try to be a “one-person” team. Within our industry there are a multitude of diverse associations with whom to join forces. I am rapidly closing in on my 90th birthday, and I have never stood alone. Invariably I have belonged to appropriate industry associations which have helped me along the way.

Belonging and participating with peers will allow your company to continue to stay on growth and be profitable. These associations have built teams of “professionals” and they are to whom you should go for guidance. They know so much about the industry, and are always happy to work with you. That is the service they offer!

So now, once again, I ask: “Do you belong?” The cost of membership in the appropriate business associations is negligible. Your accountant writes the cost off. You will receive an ROI that is phenomenal!

Thelma and I opened our first Pharmacy in early 1950s. The first thing we did was joining our state and national associations. The guidance they provided enabled our pharmacy to grow more rapidly than we ever anticipated. Our DME/HME business grew and we became members of the associations who today serve such an important role.

AAHomecare and the state DME associations are a reflection of the industry and are the backbone of our profession. Do you belong?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mal Mixon

Invacare Chairman Mal Mixon
Our industry must say, "Thank you," to Mal Mixon for the many years of hard work he has performed on our behalf! The recognition of DME/HME as a vital portion of healthcare came about as a consequence of Mal bringing this information to the public! DME/HME is an important segment for the care and health of all citizens! Thank you for your efforts, Mal!

As Mr. Mixon toured the United States, he spoke at many meetings and delivered his message identifying “home care” as a profession. Well, it happened! DME/HME became a recognized profession!

I recall, so many years ago, when I changed the direction my pharmacy was taking to develop new “Home Care” volume. I remember when I sold my first wheelchair as an OTC cash sale. This was the beginning of a new career for me in DME/HME. Yes, I owe an additional thank you to Mal.

Mal Mixon will be presented with AAHomecare's Legislative Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award at the Washington Legislative Conference. He certainly has earned this recognition.

All I can say now is how much I personally appreciate all of the efforts and work Mal has accomplished on behalf of every DME/HME provider. He has lead the way.

Please join with me and say how much you appreciate his accomplishments with a big "THANK YOU, MAL MIXON!!"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Make it Happen

Our industry is under attack. Why? This is happening because far too many DME/HME dealers have not allowed themselves to join the fray.

I try to speak with as many dealers as I can. The problem is not unlike speaking to a choir. The choir is involved and they are the heart of the associations. But we need the rest of the trade to become involved.

Are reimbursements fair and equitable? Are the payments sent promptly to the dealers? How many difficulties must be resolved? Why are these delays happening?

Why? It comes down to fraud and abuse. I can say with some comfort there are very few DME/HME dealers guilty of any dishonesty. However, since I have spoken about fraud and abuse, written many words on this topic both in blogs and articles, it still plays a big role in slowing down reimbursements. It has to be addressed.

It has been my privilege to compliment AAHomecare for the many accomplishments on behalf of the industry. Their successes have been for all providers, not just for their members.

When I see how many dealers who are not active, who do not pay dues, but sit back and share in the benefits, I am concerned. That is not fair. I wonder what I can do to correct this? When all DME/HME participate, then we can make it happen!

I write the following very often: If you are not currently a dues paying member of AAHomecare and your state DME association, join now. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Washington Legislative Conference: May 20-21, 2015

It is not too late to attend!
The more DME/HME dealers who participate in this conference, the better the chances that our industry will continue to expand!

I can only say that it is a formidable task that AAHomecare performs. This must be acknowledged by every DME/HME company! The best way to do this, if you are not currently a member, is to simply join!

The small investment in the AAHomecare annual dues will enable your company to exist and expand. You can no longer stand alone! At the upcoming Legislative Conference, you will be able to meet with your congressmen and senators.

I have had the good fortune to participate in these “legislative conferences” many times. It always has made me very proud to be part of the teams. I never travelled alone. The AAHomecare team gave us the tools we needed. Since all of us delivered the same message, we had truly measurable success!

The elected officials always had their staff members prepared to see us. More often than not, we also met the congressmen and senators personally.

When you recognize the fact that they need your “votes” to stay in office and that you, as a DME/HME provider, represent a large number of votes, they will listen. So go to Washington, DC, and follow the instructions AAHomecare provides. We must all make our voices heard.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


What exactly does the word “if” mean? As best as I can determine, there are very few basic explanations. They are: “in the event that”, “supposing that”, or “provided that”.

All of these descriptions are correct and all of them are “cop-outs”! What they simply are saying is an excuse because someone neglected to do something! When running your DME/HME business (or any company), as the principal you must be certain that nothing has been overlooked. Several dealers I know monitor their operation differently. They carry a small wire-bound notebook and when anything is noticed which needs correction, they write it down! It gets done! If not that day, certainly the next!

I recall a DME/HME dealer I called on in Rochester, NY. This company had a large showroom, several displays set up beautifully as rooms in a home. These displays were heavily trafficked. But they each looked as if the cleaning team had just finished.

A dealer I know worked many extra hours to submit a bid for new business. He mailed it when he went home, but the mail had already been collected, and when it arrived was not accepted because it came a day late. He told me that “if” it had been opened he probably would have been awarded the new contract. His prices were a few percent less but one day late!

Speaking about “if” is important because when I speak with friends and associates. I hear this word opening up too many conversations.

I think that the best use of this little two-letter word was in a Broadway production: “If I was a rich man?” Try removing this word from your vocabulary!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Customer Service

Customer service is a great deal more than, “May I help you, please?”

Every person to whom you speak, even if it is only a greeting, must always be treated the same way. Your customer is always your “best friend”. Without them you would not have a business. The key to your success is how all potential clients recognize you.

Are you a “friend” to them or are you only interested in how much money they may be worth to your company? Think about this!

You earn your reputation by what you do that is “customer service”! One easy way to do this is to make it known to all the schools, churches, and civic clubs (such as Rotary), that you or a member or your staff is available to be a speaker. The topics all have to be related to what one can do at home! How many different topics does this open for you? Many! The only thing you must leave is a business card for every attendee.

There will be opportunities to bring a manufacturer's rep with you to leave the brochures that they have prepared. After the meeting, always send a “thank you” note to all who attended.

Everyone who “patronizes” your location can be a customer, even if they only look around. Allow that; just see how the Macy department stores have grown, always by customer service.

Customer service really does not cost anything! It is how you build your company: “May I help you, please?”