Hot-button issues drive Medtrade Spring turnout

Sunday, March 26, 2006

LAS VEGAS -- As expected, last week's Medtrade Spring Expo and Conference was awash with talk of mandatory accreditation and the recently passed 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement.

Several attendees, including Monroe Tinsley, said they were at Medtrade Spring to sit in on some of the show's 10 educational sessions on accreditation and visit the booths of accreditors like the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

"We're not accredited," said Tinsley, owner of Quality Medical Repair. "We want to learn what the real costs are for small providers. It seems like (accreditation) is set up for bigger (providers)."

What was less expected: Despite the oxygen cap, providers were still at Medtrade Spring in the mood to buy.

"They're concerned about the oxygen cuts, but I had one customer who has a $50,000 line of credit, and he's at the show to spend it right now (on respiratory-related products)," said Mark Mazzier, a senior account manager for Respironics.

Hot-button issues like accreditation and oxygen reimbursement helped to boost attendance at this year's Medtrade Spring by 5%, said Art Ellis, group show director for VNU Expositions, which organizes both Medtrade Spring and Medtrade.

The number of exhibitors, at 445, was also up, Ellis said.

"(The increase in show attendance) is confirmation or re-confirmation that our educational program is on the right track," he said. "People want to get educated, and then they want to go out onto the floor and see product innovation."

While attendees were still buying, several exhibitors reported that they were more concerned than usual about cost.

"Providers know they're always going to need oxygen products, but money's more of a factor now," said Andy McKelvy, a regional sales manager for Roscoe Medical.

Other exhibitors tried to steer attendees away from products currently caught up in reimbursement cuts.

"We're in an insulated market," said Kevin Jones, senior product/brand manager for Home Care by Moen, which manufacturers bath safety products. "I'm trying to tell (attendees), 'Hey guys, this is what you want to make your emphasis.'"

All around, action--not inaction--was a trend.

"Providers are finally getting it," said Terry Duncombe, president and CEO of the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP). "In past shows, they've asked us for more information. At this show, they're asking us how to apply."