Consumer outreach: Work with, not against, policy

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Q. How can I make the most of the new standard power wheelchair rental policy with clients?

A. Medicare's newly-implemented standard power chair rental policy is a challenge for both providers and consumers. However, your interests may align with those of your clients more than you realize.

For starters, both you and your clients have an interest in caring for the power chair. Let your clients know that you own the unit, but the title to it will transfer to them once payments have been made for 13 months. It is theirs to use in the interim, and if it breaks, their mobility will be impacted, pending repairs. As a provider, you want clients to take exceptional care of your rental power chairs. Educate them on how to use, care for and maintain it, and ask that they contact you as soon as a service issue arises, so that repair needs don't escalate. Partnering with your clients will limit the risk to their mobility and your rental fleet investment.

Second, thoroughly explain the Medicare rental policy to your clients. They need to know the power wheelchair is not a covered benefit while they are in the hospital or care facility and they will not be billed for it. Inform them that you may need to pick up the chair but can bring it back once they are home. Ensure that your clients and their family know to contact you immediately if their medical or living circumstances change.

Lastly, don't forego customer satisfaction and loyalty. If your client is likely going to have the power wheelchair 13 months and own it, treat the initial selection more like a sale. Let the client "take ownership" and choose between a red or blue shroud color. This will increase client satisfaction, impress referral sources and help grow your business.

Despite the challenges and limitations of the standard power chair rental policy, there are still ways to serve both your clients and your business in the process. hme

Mark Smith is the consumer research manager for Pride Mobility Products Corp. Reach him at 800-800-8586 or