‘All the trends make this an industry to get into’

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Editors note: The provider featured in this story plans to open his business in November. So not to tip off his future competition, he asked that we not reveal his name, company or its location.

YARMOUTH, Maine - When it comes to the home medical equipment market, John Doe likes his chances.

“All the trends make this an industry to get into,” he said The demographics are growing. People are living longer and being diagnosed sooner. People are starting to take more responsibility for their own health. And as hospitals continue to push people out sooner and their resources are stretched ... I think the need for HME will grow exponentially.”

This 46-year-old entrepreneur is no newcomer to healthcare. He’s been in the field his entire adult life, mostly as an executive on the hospital side. When his job ended last summer, he began looking both inside and outside healthcare for a new venture. During his search, he came across the Women’s Health Boutique, a franchise operation that specializes in post-mastectomy services and products. The nature of the business, he realized, required that it be run by a woman. He moved onto HME.

His business is scheduled to open in November. To minimize reimbursement hassles, he’ll lean heavily on cash sales, 60% to 70%. Consultants (he’s worked with “the best in the business”) have told him that strictly cash HME businesses have not fared well, so he’ll include rental DME. He won’t offer respiratory therapy at first, believing it requires a level of expertise and responsibility he doesn’t want to assume right out of the chute.

For the reimbursement business he does do, he’s hired a billing company.

He’s contracted with a marketing/graphics person to produce radio, newspaper and TV ads, which, he hopes, will drive consumers to his store. His 3,000-square-foot showroom, which will have 80 feet of display windows, has a stylish Starbucks look and sits on a main thoroughfare opposite the area’s busiest mall.

“I want people not only to be able to find me easily, but also to drive by and say, ‘What is that place,’” he said.

If he and his partner, a nurse, don’t draw a salary, he expects the company to begin breaking even in seven to 12 months.