Magic bullets, cowards and Bonnie and Clyde

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just about 200 providers attended the HME Business Summit Sept. 10 & 11--our annual educational event--and one thing became crystal clear: When it comes to building your business, there's no magic bullet.
I thought there might be, but there is not. Short of, possibly, acquiring a company or opening up a new branch, there doesn't seem to be anything that will boost your annual revenue by 15% or more. You can implement a GPS system, scanning technology, innovative sales compensation, join AAHomecare and your state association, boost retail sales, switch to hybrid delivery vehicles, seek out high-deductible health insurance policies for your staff--but none of these revenue building and expense reduction actions (and these are just some that attendees discussed) produce the "eureka moment" (as speaker Dexter Braff called it), the moment when someone reveals a strategy that, if pursued correctly, will produce a significant jump in revenue.
The closest thing to a magic bullet might be expanding into CPAP and bilevel (as most Summit attendees indicated they had), a market that holds tremendous growth potential. The bottom line here is this: While there's no obvious magic bullet, there's plenty you can do to boost revenue and decrease expenses incrementally, turning your company, in the process, into, as they say, a leaner, meaner machine. That's a key takeaway from this year's Summit--if you plan to remain a viable business well into the future.
An appalling,misguided coward
Over the past few months, in my duties as editor of HME News, I've been called appalling, misguided and most recently a coward (see the letter to the editor on this page). But you know what, I'm sticking to my guns. The barriers to entry for becoming a provider should be raised (appalling?), and rather than providers absorbing all of Medicare's reimbursement cuts, they should pass more of the cost onto beneficiaries (misguided?). As for being a coward, Braveheart, what kind of person calls someone else names in an unsigned letter?
When was the last time the bureaucrats at CMS looked in the mirror? Here they are, embarking on one fraud crackdown after another, and yet they never consider--as everyone else seems to know--that they're the problem. CMS and its contractors have the ability to screen out most crooks before issuing them provider numbers. Instead, they hand out billing privileges to just about any Bonnie and Clyde that requests one. Only after the criminals have run up utilization does CMS and its contractors try to root them out. Charlie Brown said it best: Good grief.