Heartland ushers in new era, providers in tow

‘After three days…(attendees) said they felt optimistic’
Friday, June 17, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa – Igniting ideas and cultivating connections was the ever-positive theme at last week’s Heartland Conference, now in its 15th year.

“The energy level was high, and there was great engagement and thought-provoking conversations from vendors and members,” said Clint Geffert, president of VGM & Associates. “During one of the final sessions, on the last day, we asked attendees to give one word about how they felt after three days of networking and education, and they said they felt optimistic, empowered, inspired, encouraged and comfortably refreshed—which is precisely what we strive for.”

The Heartland Conference, held June 13-16, drew nearly 1,000 attendees from across the country, according to VGM. It featured more than 100 educational sessions across 10 tracks, and 71 exhibitors.

New mindset

Attendees were urged to position themselves to take advantage of a shift in behavior that sees consumers, more than ever, going online to find information and products quickly.

That’s going to ratchet up quicker than you think, said Google’s Josh Weum, during a session titled, “Micro Moments—How Our Biggest Opportunities are Found in the Smallest Moments.”

“It’s going to be overnight, when the elderly get online, and we are very close to that integration,” Weum told attendees. “You want to be there when they get there—that’s when you have that impact. The Internet is happening yesterday.”

Overdue recognition

Women are often under-recognized in business, and the VGM Group is taking a step toward fixing that this year.

During a special session, “Women and Wine: Celebrating the Women of HME,” VGM announced “The HME Woman of the Year Award.”

“Women play such an important role in our industry and we want to recognize that by honoring a specific woman for the contributions she has made through leadership, patient care, best practices, advocacy or any other aspect of leadership,” said Mike Mallaro, CEO of the VGM Group.

New beginningsThis year’s Heartland Conference was the first without VGM founder Van Miller, but his presence was there—most notably in the form of his former dog, Daisy, who is now training with Retrieving Freedom to become a service dog for a veteran. Through raffle tickets and donations, attendees raised $2,114 for the organization, a nonprofit that trains service dogs and matches them with families.