Clayback brings diversity to MED network v.p. role

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Although he has a slightly different background than previous MED Group National Rehab Network directors, Don Clayback vows to continue, even build upon, the integrity of programs developed during the group’s 34-year history.

Fitted with the newly created title of v.p. of networks, in addition to being the new rehab network director, Clayback figures to be part of a new era at MED, but he maintains that the intent is not to try and fix what isn’t broken.

“We have a strong network in place right now,” he said. “We just want to take what is already a good program and enhance it.”

Clayback’s background is an amalgam of accounting, practical HME and consulting. After working as a certified public accountant at Pricewaterhouse- Coopers, he joined Buffalo, N.Y.-based Dowd Medical in 1985. He spent 10 years in HME management at Dowd, where he was heavily involved in the rehab side of the business. Since 1995, he has served as an independent HME business consultant for management, operations, and mergers and acquisitions.

In his new position, Clayback will oversee the MED Group Certified Repair Center and National Respiratory networks in addition to the rehab network. However, he insists that his multiple management responsibility is not a dilution of programs.

“Just the opposite,” Clayback said. “There will be an increased emphasis on the rehab network. And we will hire a new respiratory director. My role will be to provide management oversight of the networks.”

V.P. of Membership Services Dan Smith, who served as “interim caretaker” of the rehab network after the departure of W.B. Mick, says Clayback’s diverse experience allows him to bring a new dimension to the MED Group.

“Don has an eclectic resume - he’s a CPA and does activity-based costing,” Smith said. “While that may conjure up a certain image in people’s minds, he also spent 10 years in rehab, so he has a working man’s feel for the business. He’s not just a white-shirted CPA; he has lived and breathed the industry.”

MED President David Miller added that Clayback’s versatility will likely influence the entire organization.

“One of the core tenets of The MED Group is for like-minded individuals to come together and raise their level of expertise as a result,” Miller said. “ Don Clayback is a perfect example of a highly qualified individual that will facilitate those opportunities and lead our networks to that next level.”

Although Clayback concedes that there are some differences between Mick and himself, he contends that his leadership role “probably won’t be dramatically different.” Clayback has more of a business background, yet he maintains a firm grasp of clinical issues as well, he said.

“I’m not comparing myself with Mick,” he said, “but I have been a rehab provider, so I am familiar with the market. And even though I will be taking a more active role on the legislative side, that’s not really a dramatic change. It’s just becoming an area of sharper focus.”

Clayback says his mandate will be to provide educational and operational assistance to members as well as represent their regulatory and legislative interests. At Medtrade, he announced that MED has hired rehab specialist Fran McCaffrey to help set up new education and training for rehab regulatory issues.

“We don’t see the program as needing improvement or an overhaul, but we’re enhancing it,” Clayback said. “Fran has been active in rehab circles and headed the accreditation program for the Rehab Council. She has helped NRRTS in their planning session - she knows the industry and knows the issues.”

Rehab equipment reimbursement will also get a special emphasis through services offered by Claudia Mordigree, who formed the Orion Group from Sunrise Medical’s old consulting division.

“I will help out on the legislative side and will also work with Fran and Claudia on developing educational sessions,” Clayback said. “We will organize regional seminars for members on seating and positioning, reimbursement, business management and clinical practices.”

Clayback also wants to give payers a better understanding of the role rehab providers play in the healthcare continuum. He believes that his experience as liaison between patients, clinicians and insurers will help him convey the message.

“People outside the industry don’t appreciate the skills you need to provide the rehab service,” he said. “So I will be telling them about the services rehab companies provide and translate it into financial terms so that the people making the decisions have the right information.” HME