in good repair: Bell Apothecary branches out

Friday, March 28, 2014

EASTON, Pa. – When a local DME repair shop owner sold his business to another company located far away, provider Ron Frantz saw a great opportunity.

“People were calling and complaining that they weren’t getting their equipment back fast enough,” said Frantz, medical director of the home healthcare department for Bell Apothecary. “I approached him and we opened up a repair shop right in our facility and now he works for me.”

The shop does repairs on equipment such as wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators and suction devices for area nursing homes and other DME providers.

By hiring someone who was already licensed to make repairs—and who had built up a solid reputation—it was easy to drum up business, said Frantz.

“Once these companies found out this gentleman was working for me, they turned their business over to us,” he said.

There is no set hourly reimbursement for fixing equipment. It depends on the type of equipment and what sort of repair needs to be made, like whether it’s a replacement or a rebuild. Some parts are still covered under warranty and Bell Apothecary gets paid for labor. The provider also does yearly safety checks for nursing homes that own their equipment.

When it became clear that Round 2 of competitive bidding was headed his way, Frantz began looking for ways to supplement Bell Apothecary’s Medicare business. Besides the repair business, the provider has expanded the number of contracts it holds with commercial insurances and Medicare Advantage plans. The provider also holds a state contract to install stair glides and perform home modifications, and it provides “tons” of incontinence supplies for the state’s Medicaid program.

Frantz estimates Bell Apothecary’s Medicare business has declined by 80%—but that’s a good thing.

“We’ve become more busy,” he said. “What we lost in Medicare, we made up for with all of this new business.”