Come and get it - HME providers reduce deliveries

Friday, April 30, 2004

YARMOUTH, Maine - When it comes to requiring or asking patients to pick up equipment rather than have it delivered, a surprising number of providers have jumped on the bandwagon. More than a few believe it leads to superior service, a better educated patient and increased compliance.

“I encourage all able patients to come to us for their equipment,” e-mailed David Thomas of Sleep Unlimited. “It’s very simple, actually. We carry nearly all vendors’ products, and it’s nearly impossible to drag it all to a patient’s home.”

In April’s HME NewsPoll, which garnered 64 responses, most providers indicated that when possible they require patients to pick up equipment. Compared to five years ago, 75% of the respondents said they require patients to pick up ostomy and urological supplies; 68% require pick up of diabetes supplies; 65% incontinence supplies; 52% CPAPs; 47% nebulizers; 42% walkers; 38% O2 tanks; 36% commodes; 17% nutritionals.

“We find that most people don’t mind coming to the store, if a referral source hasn’t already put in their head that we should deliver,” emailed a provider who ask to remain anonymous for competitive reasons. “For some reason, some referral sources expect the patient to come to them, but that we must go to the patient.”

Indeed, a key reason many providers (31% of respondents) don’t require patient pick-up is to avoid souring relationships with referral sources. Another 33% of respondents said home delivery is a must if they are to remain competitive.

“The minute you start asking PTs and/or clients to start coming in to get their supplies is when you notice your referrals decrease due to a competitor’s offer of home delivery,” said Brian Campbell. “People are ordering their groceries off the Internet. The convenience is the name of the game.”

Many respondents said declining reimbursement may force them to require more patients to pick up equipment.

“With the decline in reimbursement and rising cost of fuel and everyday expenses, we will...have to shift to be much more prudent in our delivery expense,” Jack Stafford, owner of Quality Home Medical Equipment in Stroud, Okla.