Define excellence

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

HME News Publisher Rick Rector and I had an excellent conversation with the judges of the HME Excellence Awards in July, during which we pondered the following question: What’s the definition of excellence and how has it changed?

We all agreed that it’s hard to look at financials the same way, with the havoc wreaked by competitive bidding and audits. A big chunk of what the judges look at when determining the winners of the awards is financials—net revenues, cost of goods sold, EBITDA—and how those financials have (hopefully) improved over a three-year term. One judge said, these days, if a company is making any kind of improvement at all in these areas, no matter how small, it’s an achievement.

So with so many providers in the same boat—treading water or making small improvements in their financials—how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? There are other criteria that the judges look at as part of determining the winners of the awards—marketing, community involvement, staffing and quality control. Those, along with the aforementioned financials, are still very, very important.

But there were other things that also impressed the judges about this year’s crop of finalists—everything from their efforts to diversify their product and payer mix, to their activity on social media outlets like Facebook and twitter. One big thing the judges kept coming back to: signs that a company was “cutting edge” and “progressive.” All the judges noted an insert submitted by one of the finalists about its efforts to help hospitals reduce readmission rates for COPD patients.

“This shows the company is up to date with market trends,” one judge said. In a nod to the increasingly interwoven healthcare industry, the judge also said: “It also shows they understand that excellence in health care means doing more than just what’s good for your particular company.”

We’ll likely tweak the application process for the awards going forward to reflect some of these added priorities in the HME industry.

And speaking of the HME Excellence Awards, first, second and third place winners will be announced at the HME News Business Summit, Sept. 7-9 at The Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis.