Thursday, July 31, 2003

The daily essentials for survival

Q. As Medicare reforms loom in the form of competitive bidding or a CPI-freeze, what questions should I ask about my business to gauge the possible impacts?

A. HME managers will be well-served if they ask the three “hedgehog concept” questions recently popularized in Jim Collins’ best seller “Good to Great.” Hedgehogs succeed by focusing on the daily essentials.

1. What is my company passionate about? If you and your employees do not get daily joy from serving customers, reimbursement rate reductions will make the future increasingly miserable. Which product or service do you love with a passion?

2. What is my company best at? I love to play golf but I’m not very good at it. As a result, it’s not my source of income. Which product or service do your customers say you’re best at providing? Is that the same product or service you’re passionate about?

3. What is my company most profitable at? Is there one segment of your business - oxygen, BiPap/CPAP, rental, retail, respiratory therapy, rehab, pharmacy - that subsidizes all the rest? If you’re not sure what drives your economic engine, consider using activity-based costing.

If each answer is different, the business issue confronting you is strategy, not competitive bidding. If two out of three answers are the same, take steps to bring the third into alignment. And if the answer to each question points to the same product or service, make it the focus for competitive bidding. A product or service in which you are passionately proficient and profitable offers the potential to move your company from good to great.

- Tom Pryor is president of ICMS, Inc. He can be reached at 817-483-6511 or .