STILLWATER, MN – For the people in this industry who I have not had the pleasure to meet, I will let you know, I am old. I don’t feel old, but when I think about the changes in the HME industry over the last 30 years (I am came into this industry when I was 9—wink), it makes me feel like I was around when the earth was formed.
When I started in HME back in the 1980s (aah the era of the “golden commode”) I never in my wildest dreams thought we would be in an industry that some feel has no future. Extreme regulations, a flawed bidding program, out of control audits, and a few other “challenges” have taken their toll.
Because I feel young, and I am an optimist, I refuse to believe that there is a dim future in HME. In fact, I firmly believe the opposite. I believe the future is very bright.
How could I think that?
• There is an average of 10,000 baby boomers a day turning 65. That’s almost 4 million people a year that may need our products and services.
• Add to that a population that is educated, informed, and knows how to use the Internet. If they want something bad enough, they will get it.
Change Your Business Model for the New World
• If you continue to do business in the “that’s the way we have always done it” model, or keep giving away equipment and supplies at a loss, you will continue to struggle and eventually you will fulfill your wish to go out of business.
• Exercise your right to join in the retail revolution. Become a non-participating supplier if that will move your business forward. Be creative and forward thinking – looking backward will only allow you to see your competitor who is changing their business model pass you by.
• IF EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, works together to fight for our industry, and acknowledge that we deserve to get paid—not only for our equipment and supplies but also for our service (henceforth STOP the insane low ball bidding and fire customers who want everything for free)—we will grow and thrive as an industry.
Education, Education, Education
• Participate in your state, regional, and national association and industry events.
• Learn from other HME suppliers through networking.
• Talk and listen to the lessons learned from CB – and learn what can we do going forward.
• Learn how others are dealing with the increase in the federal regulatory burdens such face-to-face, increases in audits and ALJ delays.
• Find out ways to get your business diversified so you are not solely relying on Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
Tell Your Story
You and everyone on your staff MUST educate your members of congress about your business and tell them why they must fix this mess. Stop being afraid to speak out to them because they are “Congressman or Senators.” THEY WORK FOR YOU! You are a solution to our health care crisis, and they need to know that if you are not around, costs will go up.
I could go on with the lists, but we need you to get back to making the HME future bright. So YES, I can see the future, and the opportunities abound. If we quit living in the past, get engaged, get educated, and get involved, the HME industry will be stronger than ever, and the future will be very bright.
Rose Schafhauser is executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, Stillwater, Minn.