Industry ready to face future at Medtrade

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

GWCC – “Cautiously optimistic” was how Group Show Director Kevin Gaffney described the atmosphere for the opening day of Medtrade Tuesday.

A big reason for that optimism: H.R. 6490, a new bill that would replace the competitive bidding program with a market-pricing program (MPP).

“I hope we’re nearing a crescendo of optimism,” said Gaffney. “People are energized—they’re ready to call up their congressmen and push MPP.”

With about 550 exhibitors and 200 educational sessions, show attendees had no shortage of products and programs to learn about on opening day.

Perhaps nothing better illustrated the industry’s collective focus on the future than the throngs of attendees at the new product pavilion, Gaffney said.

“There were lines out the door,” he said. “We might have had a record attendance at the new product pavilion.”

Shelly Prial, a Medtrade ambassador and 50-year HME veteran, said the show has changed in ways that reflect the industry’s new imperatives, which include boosting their cash sales.

“People come here not so much to socialize, as in the past, but to look at products for the future, and to see where there might be new opportunities,” he said.

Emma Lai, national sales manager for Sky Med, a manufacturer of canes and related accessories, echoed the need for providers to shift their focus to cash sales, especially in light of the Medicare-related anxieties they are having.

“A lot of providers are moving toward cash sales,” she said. “For Medicare, things are taking longer, there’s more paperwork and there’s more monitoring. It has become too much effort. Providers are looking to have better cash flow.”

With the industry in transition, the reasons for attendees making the trek to Medtrade are as varied as ever. Some, like Joel Segar of ContinuCare, a provider in Chattanooga, Tenn., are here to get a sharper view of the state of the industry.

“We came down here to get a better understanding of what’s happening in the industry so we can make plans for next year,” he said. “That’s always a challenge for a smaller HME provider. We have a team here and we’ve split up so we can attend as many of the sessions as possible.”

Others, like Mark Trujillo of Horizon Home Respiratory in Louisburg, N.C., still see Medtrade as a buying show.

“We’re here to buy some things,” he said. “I’m here with my truck.” hme