Linda Secher: Think outside your store

Friday, February 24, 2012

Linda Secher got her start in the women's health business making house calls to fit women with breast forms and wigs. These days, the owner of Los Angeles-based Appearance Consultants works with hospitals and providers to set up in-hospital women's health boutiques. Secher spoke with HME News recently about why such an arrangement can benefit HME providers.

HME News: How long does it take to set up a hospital-based boutique?

Linda Secher: If you get in on the building phase, it's a good year, but even if it's already built, if you plan to hire someone to run it for you, it can take that long. You have to stock it and make sure everybody has the right credentials. You have to make sure the hospital approves of everything. 

HME: What does an HME provider have to offer the hospital?

Secher: Some hospitals and cancer centers do not have Medicare Part B numbers. As an outside provider, you will have that so you can do all the insurance billing for the breast prostheses and bras. That's the biggest thing you can offer.

HME: What kinds of items should they stock?

Secher: They need a variety of bras and breast prostheses. Some will offer protective clothing, sunblock, scarves, hats, turbans--anything that will make people feel comfortable when they are going through chemo or radiation. It's something you have to discuss with (the hospital). They may want gift items, although, if there's a gift shop, you don't want to compete with it. 

HME: Any other steps providers should take?

Secher: I'm a big believer in contracts. You want to have it written out that the store will be open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m, Monday through Friday, for instance. Some hospitals may say they want you from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Do they want you to visit rooms? Do they want camisoles for everybody having surgery? These are all things you need to discuss with the center.