Heard at VGM: 'The future looks good. It's just different.'

Friday, June 8, 2012

WATERLOO, Iowa – When The VGM Group says it helped HME providers get ready for the future at its Heartland Conference last week, it meant not only professionally but also personally.

VGM kicked off its 11th conference on Tuesday with a rousing presentation by Bryan Dodge, a professional speaker, radio personality and author. Dodge urged providers to live their lives using a golf scorecard, leaving little room for excuses.

“The more excuses you let in, the more room there is for failure,” he said.

In all, Heartland drew 544 VGM members, 350 vendor reps and 70 speakers to Waterloo, Iowa, June 4-7.

Whatever challenges the HME industry faces, Dodge advised providers to “Please stand up, be responsible and lead like you’ve never led before.”

Playing off that, Jim Phillips, VGM’s COO, concluded the presentation by calling on providers to get involved in fighting the biggest of those challenges: the competitive bidding program.

“We don’t believe the fight is over for this industry,” he said. “But nothing is going to change without you and without your energy.”

Providers then went on to hear presentations on everything from preparing for an audit to running a successful retail operation to leveraging compliance programs.

During a presentation on building a post-competitive bidding business plan, Mike Mallaro, VGM’s CFO, emphasized the growing aging and obese populations that will drive growth in the industry.

“No industry wants to be saddled with Medicare, but few have a better demand curve,” he said. “Most people would kill for that demand.”

But to stick around long enough to serve these populations, Mallaro says providers need to better align their cost structures with reality.

“There needs to be an evolution in this industry from caregivers in business to business professionals providing care,” he said.

Mallaro also shared metrics for national providers. Lincare, for example, logs an impressive $150,000 in revenue per employee. Yet, he says indie providers can still compete with national providers.

“They don’t have the capacity to grow like you can,” he said.

Mallaro left providers with a cautionary tale about Blockbuster, which failed to change its business model to reflect a growing demand for more convenient movie rentals. The company is now closing a good chunk of its stores.

“Don’t get caught up in your own hype,” he said. “The future looks good. It’s just different.”

Also heard at Heartland:

“Marketing to Home Health Care Consumers”: Kimberly Snyder, senior consumer marketing manager at Philips Respironics, says the biggest favor providers can do for themselves is educating patients on all products available to improve quality of life. “There’s opportunity there—it’s whether you’re grabbing it or not,” she said.

“Business Owners Survival Strategies”: Louis Feuer, a long-time industry consultant, says if you’re going to be a boss, act like a boss. Feuer, who believes the appearance of employees affects everything from how they pick up the phone to what they get accomplished in a day, recounted a story of a provider who caved on dress-down Fridays after his employees voted for it. “Your company is not a democracy,” he said. “Did they vote on their salaries?”