Medline adds muscle to retail

Saturday, September 30, 2006

MUNDELEIN, Ill. - Medline has redoubled its efforts to help HMEs boost retail sales--and with good reason, said Dave Jacobs, president of the company's durable medical equipment division.
With reimbursement shrinking and denial rates as high as 35%, providers are on the hunt for products that generate quick cash, he said.
"They are asking what kinds of products lend themselves well to this, and they are asking for help in terms of expertise and tools," Jacobs said.
When it comes to doing business, providers possess clinical experience and the know-how to deal with insurance companies and referral sources, but when it comes to retail and cash sales, many don't know where to start, Jacobs said.
Additionally, a Medline survey indicates that providers believe they collect only 50% of the business available to them. That didn't surprise Jacobs. In general, he said, "most people aren't aware of the range of products a provider can offer."
Enter Medline's new and improved retail programs, which debuted at Medtrade and launched Oct. 1, Jacobs said. Here's what they look like:
- HME Rewards Program: These high-quality customized brochures, intended for patients and referrals sources, highlight bath safety and other cash items.
- Retail Merchandising Program: To an existing line of product planograms, Medline has added risers, much like you see in car dealerships. The risers allow providers to elevate and bring more focus to showroom products, such as transport chairs and rollators.
- Patient Needs Assessment: Does a patient need a can or bath-safety item to avoid slipping or falling? These handouts help provide the answers.
While it's important to boost retail and cash sales, providers "need to remember what makes them different," Jacobs said.
"The service, product expertise and knowledge is very valuable and something you can't get if you go to a traditional retailer," he said.