Countdown to Medtrade: Long-time speakers reflect

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ATLANTA –Medtrade's longest running speakers have one thing to say about the HME industry: It's always changing.

"It's always an exciting new journey," said Neil Caesar, an industry attorney who has been speaking at Medtrade since the mid-1990s. "Every year we're rounding a new bend in the road to see what's waiting for us."

One of the biggest ways the industry has changed: The way it has adopted various technologies.

"We were an unsophisticated business and there are some fun advantages to that," said Louis Feuer, a consultant who has been speaking at Medtrade since the mid-1980s. "You could take more risks and not even worry. People pushed the envelope."

But now, providers must adhere to more government regulations and be business savvy to survive. That’s not such a bad thing, Feuer said.

"I think you can sleep better at night, knowing where you're money is coming from, knowing where you're spending your dollar," he said.

Speakers have shifted their messages to coincide with the changing industry, focusing more on new technologies and the nuts and bolts of how to survive and thrive in a heavily-regulated industry, rather than basic paperwork how-to's.

As the industry has changed, Medtrade's focus has changed, too, Caesar said.

"Medtrade's embrace of the educational component has increased," he said. "There are more speakers, more people attending the sessions."

Where in the past providers may have considered Medtrade a buying and selling opportunity, now they also attend the event to network and learn.

"It's really an opportunity to get a sense of what's happening, what could be happening and what alliances may be available," said Caesar. "It's a place to encourage and improve relationships."

Industry consultant Miriam Lieber said it takes a special kind of person to stick it out in an industry with so much change.

"There has to be a passion and a love, both for a need to help others and to be able to function amid chaos and things that are beyond our control," said Lieber, who has been speaking at the shows since the early 1980s.

Despite all the change, these speakers say the industry is here to stay.

"We do save lives; we give people their independence and mobility; we allow them to visit their families; we really are a great industry," said Feuer. "I can see the life-saving aspect of our business—that keeps me going."