Attendees tackle challenges head-on

Thursday, March 24, 2011

LAS VEGAS - The HME industry's difficult times aren't being sugarcoated at Medtrade Spring. The challenges created by competitive bidding are formidable and providers that don't adopt some sort of commercial strategy will most likely face financial jeopardy.

Show director Kevin Gaffney says Medtrade "understands that these are interesting and challenging times for the HME industry," and that he wants "all those involved to know that we are committed to doing what we can to bring folks together to learn, network and advance their businesses."

Medtrade Spring can furnish providers with the tools they need to explore new horizons and become financially viable businesses, Gaffney said. He recently took some time to explain the show's approach to operating in a post-competitive bidding climate.

HME News: This is the first show with competitive bidding in effect. What influence will this have in terms of planning and administration of the show?

Kevin Gaffney: Like others in the industry, I am concerned about the effects of competitive bidding on the success and survival of HME providers. Therefore, the emphasis at Medtrade Spring will be twofold: We will offer solid education that will arm providers with the information they need to prepare for these changes, while also offering opportunities to increase their participation in the ongoing efforts to combat this destructive program. We are also focusing on the importance of manufacturers and providers staying connected during this new era, with emphasis on the many great products our exhibitors offer that can enhance the providers businesses.HME: What are some of the tools, products and ideas that providers can get from the show to deal with competitive bidding?Gaffney: From an educational standpoint, the Medtrade Educational Advisory Board (EAB) has added a new track that specifically focuses on competitive bidding. This track will provide direct guidance for those in the current and future bidding areas. Again, we don't like it, but we would be remiss if we did not offer expert advice for those who have chosen to participate. Likewise, the EAB added another track that is dedicated exclusively to retail sales. The hope is that providers in and out of bidding areas can discover new opportunities to increase sales that are not dependent on Medicare. We are also offering a new half-day session with industry experts that focuses exclusively on competitive bidding, providing a deeper dive on the topic that will get into strategies and ideas that providers will find very beneficial. We are also working on an open door session on Thursday that will give providers an opportunity to ask questions of experts on a one-on-one basis.HME: What changes have you made to make Medtrade Spring a "must attend" conference for busy providers?Gaffney: The ongoing proactive approach to the educational program is certainly a sign that the show will offer the most current and essential information. I recognize that providers are busy--probably more so than ever. But I believe this is a "must attend" event for many reasons. It offers them the opportunity to be in the know about the issues they are facing through exemplary education, face-to-face interaction with their manufacturing partners and the opportunity to discuss the massive challenges with other providers and industry experts. Yes, it is a commitment of time and money, but I assure them that it is an important investment and one they will be glad they made.HME: How is Medtrade using social media to promote the show and engage attendees?Gaffney: Medtrade is communicating with attendees and exhibitors through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Our goal is to keep attendees aware of show updates in real time and to create a community that continues to explore ideas presented at both shows and enhance relationships that were created onsite throughout the year. We also use our custom product, Medtrade Connect, which connects attendees and exhibitors before, during and after the show.