HME Business Summit: 'We're trying to be different'

Sunday, April 9, 2006

YARMOUTH, Maine - As you've no doubt heard, or seen, or guessed, we're bringing back the HME Business Summit this year. I could tell you how successful we were last year, or how critically important it is to your business, yadda yadda, but those sales pitches bore me. They work, but they're a bore, right?

So I'll cut right to the chase--to how we're trying to be different, and what the grist looks like so far.

First, the big difference. This year, we're not doing a conference. We don't want to do that. There are other conferences in this industry. They do a good job. We want to be different. We want to be a Summit.

Technically, a summit is when you bring all the heads of state together for discussion. We're trying to do that. Of course, we're not turning paying attendees away, but we're orchestrating the program in such a way that will appeal to the brightest minds in the industry. They're who we want at the Summit.

One attendee from Cape Cod told HME News Editor Mike Moran something last year that stays with me still. To paraphrase, he said this: "You guys got the best minds in the industry here, but we're just sitting out here. You should use us."

So this year, we're going to do that. On three strategically timed occasions, after you're brimming with ideas from the content delivered, we're going to break into groups and work on a project that spans the conference.

The idea is this: We take everything into account that's been said thus far, and then jointly work on three business plans that provide guidance on how to handle the oxygen cap, competitive bidding and recent changes in the rehab market.

Moderators will guide each of these sessions. Then we'll have a representative from each group sit on a panel at the conclusion of the conference and we'll discuss the findings.

Of course, we're going to deliver valuable content as well.

The operative word here is "we." I'll let HME News Publisher Rick Rector explain.

"We're starting from a different proposition with this Summit. We don't ask speakers to come up with ideas for sessions," he said. "We go out to providers and ask what financial tools they need to run their business, and then we go and find speakers who can deliver what they want."

Since late last year, we've had one-on-one contact with 42 top-flight HME suppliers. With that feedback in hand, we've groomed the program to reflect what suppliers most want to know.

In one session, for example, a speaker will reveal an oxygen modeling program that shows how the recently implemented 36-month oxygen cap affects the marketplace. In another, a clinician digs deep into clinical data to demonstrate "Why Oxygen Matters."

"Legislators don't seem to understand this," said Joe Lewarski, vice president of clinical and government affairs at Inogen. "That's why we're looking at a 36-month cap and why there are continued discussions and efforts to drill down the oxygen benefit event more. We've got to do a better--a more persuasive--job of underscoring the fact that home oxygen is a patient-focused, comprehensive, cost-effective therapy that must be protected."

In yet another session, a provider of respiratory services (who is not an HME supplier) will share the data that she uses to show insurers that her intervention saves her payer clients millions of dollars annually.

"There's a theme here," said Rector. "It's the same theme as last year: We're speaking from data, not hunches."

The HME Business Summit takes place Sept. 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore.

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