Invacare: HME ‘in a good place’

Friday, July 27, 2012

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare officials, during the company’s annual media day last week, offered both pep talk and tough talk on the HME industry’s prospects.

Carl Will, senior vice president, global commercial operations, kicked off the day with this reminder targeted toward providers: “The products that are mundane to us—I make my living in raised toilet seats—is the reason why we can get our loved ones out of facilities and into their homes.”

“It’s easy to lose sight of our primary purpose because it’s so tough out there,” he said.

Invacare officials said it’s also easy to lose sight of the fact that, because of all the change underway in the HME industry and in health care in general, there are opportunities for those providers who are willing and able.

For example, Lou Slangen, senior vice president, corporate marketing, and chief product officer, pointed out how providers can benefit from the new emphasis on “the right care at the time at the right place at the right cost” brought on by accountable care organizations (ACOs).

“This means that we’re in a good place,” he said. “The last place people want to be is acute care.”

But it’s not enough for providers to know their value and to see opportunity. Bill Corcoran, vice president of financial services, Invacare Credit Corp., said providers can’t let competitive bidding and other obstacles freeze them in their tracks.

“Stop blaming CMS—reimbursement cuts across the board are coming down,” he said. “Get over it and put your big boy pants on. Get aggressive now.”

Also at media day, Gerald Blouch, president and CEO, gave a by-the-numbers update on Invacare’s efforts to comply with U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. Invacare now has 19 quality assurance professionals in leadership positions, it has contracted with five consulting firms, and it’s working on “3,000 significant steps to get to the finish line.”

“We’re still in negotiations,” he said. “We had a face to face meeting (the week of July 16). This is going to make us a better company—I’m not an FDA basher.”

Additionally, Julie Jackson, director of the Rehab Business Unit, announced that Invacare plans to launch the Pronto Air Personal Transporter, a Group 2 wheelchair, in the fourth quarter. The company is positioning the chair, which won’t have a code, as a cash sale item for providers.

“We’re trying to see where the market is going to go a year from now,” she said. “Due to competitive bidding and the capped rental, this market has shrunk.”