ATLANTA – The latest iteration of the Medtrade educational advisory board (EAB) met last month, and several ideas were floated about how to improve the planned Oct 26-29, 2015, show in Atlanta. One of the newest EAB members, Jennifer Leon, recently sat down with Medtrade Monday to share her thoughts about Medtrade, the value of trade shows, and exactly how she ended up on the EAB.
Medtrade Monday: So how did you come to be on the Medtrade educational advisory board?
Jennifer Leon, director of Marketing, Strategic AR, Overland Park, Kansas: I’ve been with Strategic AR for about 4 1/2 years, and when I started, we were going to Medtrade Spring and Medtrade.
Last year, I emailed Kevin Gaffney [group show director] directly after the Las Vegas show [Medtrade Spring], and came to him with a cry for help. We had concerns about the show, and I went to him with a few ideas from an exhibitor standpoint. I sent a lengthy email, and it got passed to some other EAB members.
Medtrade Monday: What was the reaction to your e-mail?
Leon: They liked what I had to say, and felt like I could bring value to future EAB meetings. I had also thrown my hat into the ring as a presenter, so I had a couple years of presenting under my belt, along with the ideas I was bringing to the table as a vendor. Specifically, I had ideas about how to keep vendors year over year, because we’re going to notice that some will drop off as consolidation happens in the industry.
Medtrade Monday: Why did you ultimately say yes to the EAB offer?
Leon: I want to do my part in helping the industry continue to flourish. I sent Kevin an email with all my thoughts. I didn’t want to sound negative, but as a vendor I have to see a lot of value out of that show for me to continue to come and exhibit. I didn’t feel like I was seeing as much value as I had in year’s past. He took my consideration to heart, and asked me to be part of the board.
Medtrade Monday: In the Internet world that is 2015, what is the value of meeting face to face?
Leon: I am 37 years old, so I totally believe in GoToMeeting and using technology to visit with potential clients and customers when I can’t be on site—but there is so much value to having a face-to-face conversation. I can do webinars and demos all year long, but there’s just something about the good old fashioned act of meeting people in person. You have a platform to create that personal connection and rapport, and you’re going to get better responses in future endeavors.
Medtrade Monday: Do you have an example?
Leon: I recently met a particular CEO for the first time at Medtrade. When I came back, I followed up and said, ‘It was nice meeting you. If we can be of service for anything let me know.’ He immediately e-mailed me back. This was a CEO of one of the largest HME providers who I met at Medtrade. Prior to meeting him in person at Medtrade, I had e-mailed him many times and he never responded. There is huge value in face-to-face conversation, because it helps create a better working relationship between two parties.
Medtrade Monday: Why should someone spend time and money to attend Medtrade from Oct 26-29, 2015?
Leon: Providers should consider attending Medtrade because the industry is continually changing. I feel like a younger generation is entering our industry with fresh ideas, but they have to be educated and know everything they can. If you want to know everything about the ins and outs of how HME works, you have to attend these industry shows. You cannot be the best you can be unless you are making connections with other industry professionals. A lot of those connections and networking opportunities absolutely happen at Medtrade.
Medtrade Monday: In your recent presentation at Medtrade Spring, you mentioned you had survived cancer twice. How does that affect your perspective about the value of the HME industry?
Leon: I had no idea I would have to deal with these things at such a young age, but I’ve had to. I’m also a mom of two young children—a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old—and a busy career that keeps me traveling throughout the year.
I feel like I have a story to tell, and value to add to our industry, because I am a patient myself. While I may not be directly a patient of our industry, I’m still a patient of health care. As we see DMEs making connections with larger hospital systems, my experience helps me to see how patients view health care.
Whether it comes to the patient experience, in the hospital, after care, customer service, or even the way the hospital has billed me for all my surgeries, I am on the receiving end of that. I also have the pleasure of working in an industry where I can help make it better. With my own experiences, that is the fastest way to make it better. My story is a part of what I do every day, and that’s why I mention it.