Leading HME provider revamps management

Saturday, January 31, 2004

RAYMOND, N.H. - One of the nation’s premiere independent HME providers has revamped its upper management, a move intended to streamline operations, improve efficiencies and prepare the company for growth in a hostile reimbursement environment.
April Mason

“One of the things I recognized over the past nine months was that the structure that brought us to one point in revenue was not going to propel us to the next level,” said Lifeplus President April Mason. “The premise wasn’t to lay off people but to create an infrastructure that allows us to use our resources in a broader way and reduce overhead.”

Under the new model, Lifeplus divided its 10 locations into two territories, each overseen by a regional manager. One territory encompasses New Hampshire and Vermont, the other Maine and Massachusetts. Now, two people instead of six implement new policies and procedures. The number of people reporting to Mason decreased from nine to five. The restructuring eliminated three full-time employees. Due to improved cohesion and flatter managment, branches within the same territory work more closely and share resources.

“The strength of the model is communication flow,” Mason said. “Two people are now going to implement policy and procedure throughout the two territories, versus the six we had before. We were wasting time by having to go through these various channels to ensure that everyone was on the same page.”

Lifeplus’s old disjointed management structure developed in a sort of patchwork fashion. As locations multiplied, rather than taking a step back and assessing how to best structure the company, Lifeplus “plopped people wherever,” Mason said.

With Medicare reimbursement for HME slated for deep reductions in the coming years, it’s critical that companies streamline operations, employ cost-saving technology, eliminate unprofitable product lines and seek out new sources for business, Mason said.

“You will have less money but you still have to do, at least in our case, the same quality of service,” she said. “We won’t compromise that because it is such an integral part of who we are. You have to find a way to fuel that.”

Lifeplus is considered by many to be among the best run HMEs in the country. In 2002, it won an HME Excellence Award for the country’s best HME provider. In 2003, it garnered a runner-up award for best respiratory provider.