'Impossible Stops Here': Invacare debuts new marketing campaign

Sunday, August 19, 2007

ELYRIA, Ohio - No doubt about it, HME providers face a changing and challenging business environment, but it's by no means impossible, Invacare officials proclaimed during the company's annual Media Day Aug. 15. Along with a slew of new programs and products, the industry's largest manufacturer unveiled a new U.S. marketing campaign to a room full of industry journalists: "Impossible Stops Here."

"You hear a lot of times from providers that 'This is impossible' and 'I can't get through any more under the new reimbursement,'" said Lou Slangen, senior vice president of worldwide market development. "To survive requires action."

The company's "Impossible Stops Here" campaign highlights its close working relationship with The VGM Group, lobbying muscle, and important new and existing rehab and respiratory products. Additionally, by adopting non-delivery products and programs, drop-shipping supplies and implementing product formularies that reduce inventory and simplify ordering, providers have a better chance of navigating the industry's troubled waters, said Invacare officials.

"While it seems impossible, VGM does not see it as impossible," said VGM President Ron Bendell, who attended the event. "We have to get past these trying times. It's not easy. We tend to dwell on the negatives, but there are good things happening."

For example, Bendell said, industry efforts have delayed the start of the first round of competitive bidding 60 days. Additionally, 109 U.S. representatives have signed onto the Tanner-Hobson bill, which is designed make competitive bidding less onerous to independent HMEs.

Both Invacare and VGM, the industry's largest member-service organization, are prepared to do business--and help providers do business--under current conditions, but neither plans to stop fighting for better reimbursement and less burdensome regulatory oversight from Medicare, officials said.

"You have to believe and keep a positive attitude," said Invacare CEO Mal Mixon.

On the product front, Invacare plans to release a 6-pound portable oxygen concentrator once it receives 510k clearance, possibly before Medtrade in October. The company also has expanded its TDX family of power wheelchairs, and now bills it as "a total custom rehab solution."