Mike Pfister: Put 'faces on claims'

Thursday, August 26, 2010

YARMOUTH, Maine - If there's a wheelchair provider that knows how to get the word out about what it's doing for customers, it's The Scooter Store. The man behind those efforts: Mike Pfister, executive vice president of government relations and external affairs.

In an interview that aired on HME News TV recently, Pfister explained the benefits of priming the PR pump--for The Scooter Store (increased business), for its referral sources (increased awareness) and for its customers (increased access).

"Our focus is on trying to get names and faces on claims," he said. "So they're not numbers--it's not utilization; it's not a denial. It's an individual who has reached a point in their life where they need some help."

One of the most visible examples of The Scooter Store's PR efforts: Press releases on its Gift of Mobility program. Each year, The Scooter Store donates thousands of power wheelchairs to people whose insurance won't pay for them.

When it comes to PR, there are advantages to being The Scooter Store, but it's not just a large provider's game, Pfister said.

"The best story is to tell their customers' stories," he said. "What are they doing with their friends now that they didn't used to be able to do? As long as you're telling the story through the eyes of beneficiaries, there's not a whole lot bad that can come from that."

There's a lot of PR work that needs to be done, and the industry needs all hands on deck, Pfister said.

"Our parents had more babies than the Medicare Trust Fund can support," he said. "So we have to make sure people appreciate that our benefit might be just as important as some of the others."