Market outlook: 'Ticking upward'
When The VGM Group launched Accessible Home Improvement of America six years ago, it was probably ahead of its time, acknowledges Jerry Keiderling.
The year was 2009. It was one year after CMS’s failed attempt to launch Round 1 of competitive bidding, and two years before the program eventually took off.
“HME providers were still too worried about how they were going to survive Medicare cuts,” said Keiderling, president of the division. “It was hard to get people’s attention.”
But now, in 2015, reality has set in and providers are finally shifting their thinking to how they can serve their customers in different ways, Keiderling says.
For providers who focus on mobility products, in particular, one of those ways has been home modifications. These providers are already conducting evaluations in the home, so why not take a deeper look at the patient’s surroundings, Keiderling says.
“They’re looking at how they can get in and out of their home, but the rest of their home is just as important,” he said.
The biggest obstacle that providers entering the market face: education, Keiderling says.
“Consumers know they have needs but they don’t know what’s available,” he said. “They don’t know whole independent living solutions are out there for them.”
That’s why the Home Modification and Accessibility Committee of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services has published a brochure explaining what modifications are possible (home entrance, room remodeling, interior elevation changes, transfers) and why customers should work with certified providers.
“The interest in this area is slowly ticking upward,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director of MAMES.
Like Keiderling and AHIA, Lloyd McIvor and Handi Medical Supply got off to a slow start in home modifications, but they’ve finally found their footing.
“We’ve seen more phone calls recently,” said McIvor, an ATP who heads up the company’s home modifications division. hme