LAS VEGAS – We just completed Medtrade Spring. What was impressive to me was the quality of people who attended. Medtrade is the only conference in which attendees are able to learn from many different sources. The education programs were excellent.
The speakers were carefully selected and for most programs, there were several speakers, or discussion leaders, who facilitated an interactive discussion with the audience. This “give and take” was helped by the fact that the chairs in the classrooms were place in a “U” and the speakers essentially stood in the middle of the audience. A classic “town hall” type of program.
The exhibitors were innovative. Exhibitors understand that “we are all in this together.” They understand the challenges that suppliers are facing, and they know that if suppliers struggle then they (the exhibitors) will also struggle. As such, exhibitors are thinking outside the box to provide products and services that will help suppliers succeed.
There were many opportunities for attendees to interact informally with each other. In the Audit Happy Hour, suppliers were able to share drinks with audit experts and more importantly, in a relaxed setting, “pick the brains” of the audit experts. In the same vein, the Power Lunch allowed suppliers to share ideas with each other and with experts who served as the discussion facilitators. And then there were the many informal opportunities for attendees to sit down with each other (e.g., at Starbuck’s) to share successes and failures.
But most impressive to me were the attendees themselves. They were all business. Sure, this was Las Vegas. But the conference could just as well have been held in Fargo, N.D. The attendees did not come to Medtrade Spring to play—they came to learn. The attendees don’t care what Medtrade used to look like 12 years ago. They are focused on the “here and now.” They understand that it is a challenge to generate a profit. But they also understand that the demand for DME is increasing exponentially.
Their goal is to meet that demand. To an extent, the Medtrades of yesteryear were celebrations … perhaps even parties. Money flowed, competitive bidding did not exist, and audits were not out of control. At the old Medtrades, there was not a lot of pressure to take the conferences too seriously. That attitude is long gone. Leave it to Beaver has been replaced by Modern Family. Today’s version of Medtrade is only for the serious … and those who attend will acquire the tools they need to succeed.
Finally, allow me to give a “shout out” to AAHomecare. The DME industry is fortunate to have Tom Ryan, Kim Brummett, Jay Witter, and the AAHomecare staff working for them. Tom, Kim and Jay have immense credibility on Capitol Hill and with CMS. They have formed relationships with decision makers whose decisions affect the DME industry.
When Tom, Kim, and Jay make a phone call, the call is returned. When they send an email, there is a response. When they ask for a meeting, a meeting takes place. This credibility is invaluable. All of us would like to have immediate “fixes.” Unfortunately, that is not how things work inside the Beltway. Victories have been achieved and more are on the horizon.
Jeffrey S. Baird, JD, is chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato, PC, Amarillo, Tex.