AdvaCare Home tests retail waters

Saturday, March 31, 2007

BEAVER, Pa. - At its new 1,400-square-foot retail location here, AdvaCare Home Services has been feeling out the selling potential of several new product lines, including bariatric bath benches, walkers, canes and crutches.
The 10-year-old provider opened the location Feb. 1, replacing a much smaller location in the same town. If the new product lines are a hit, AdvaCare also plans to incorporate them at its 1,000-square-foot location in Pittsburgh, which features basic DME, says Tammy Zelenko, president and CEO of the company.
The push to test new products stems from AdvaCare's need to respond to changing customer needs--"bariatrics is in everything you read and hear"--and changing reimbursement, Zelenko said.
"We really felt the need to try and build a revenue stream that's not as dependent on Medicare, so we can continue building marketshare," she said.
Another new product line: scrubs, lab coats and stethoscopes. Additionally, the new location features existing product lines like CPAPs and compression hosiery in a new way. It comprises different areas set up like rooms to highlight different related products--a bedroom complete with curtains and wall hangings to highlight sleep-related products, for example.
"It's not sterile looking at all," she said. "It has a nice homey feel."
Providers continue to open retail locations with showrooms as a way to increase walk-in traffic, said consultant Jack Evans.
"The traditional HME takes calls and bills payers," said Evans, president of Global Media Marketing in Malibu, Calif. "Now they want to be a destination."
Although the trend toward retail locations isn't a new one, the timing for them has never been better, said consultant Bob Weir.
"With Medicare doing what they're doing and baby boomers realizing more of their expenses are going to come out of pocket, it's a better time for people to explore retail a little deeper," he said. "Ten years ago, it was a little premature. You still had those post-Depression people who believed, 'Damn it, the government owes it to me. I'm going to take it from them.'"