Communication is key, say business leaders

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Friday, November 20, 2020

ATLANTA – What lessons has the COVID-19 pandemic taught HME business leaders? How to communicate, and then communicate some more, they say. 

“We communicated a lot early on and then it started to feel unnecessary, like we were overburdening people with information,” said Gary Sheehan, CEO of Spiro Health, who participated in the panel discussion “Lessons learned for the long haul” during the Medtrade Virtual Conference earlier this month. “We pulled back and I think we probably pulled back too far. I think I need to work to re-establish a sense of community with the team.” 

Joining Sheehan on the panel were Miriam Lieber, president of Lieber Consulting, as moderator; Josh Marx, managing director of sleep and vice president of business development at Medical Service Company; and Allen Clark, president and CEO of Performance Modalities/Performance Home Medical. 

Leaders have also learned that communication extends beyond their companies, with Clark’s biggest lesson being talking to his peers. 

“Everyone was willing to share ideas,” he said. 

And while communication from and at the top is important, it’s equally important to get feedback from below. During the pandemic the most important data came from his employees, says Marx. He asked simple questions like, do you feel supported by your manager, do you have a best friend at work, do you have the things you need to be successful? 

“We always talk about taking care of the patient and that being the guiding principle,” he said. “But what we really learned was, taking care of our people is right ahead of that, and they will take care of the patient.” 

What’s more, given the spike in COVID-19 cases across the country and an increasing sense of pandemic fatigue among employees, communication can save lives, says Sheehan. 

“What they do in terms of bars, restaurants, parties and socializing could really derail a medical service company’s business, so I think you need to be prudent and open and honest in a situation like this,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be an either/or. There’s a mature middle and as a leader it’s our responsibility to find it.”