Mobility providers ramp up complex rehab businesses

‘You can’t give up,’ says Mark Armstrong
Friday, November 15, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine – A number of mobility providers that were not offered contracts for standard power have bolstered their existing complex rehab businesses as a way to stay afloat in the wake of Round 2.

The transition means making big changes, they say.

“We’re down 12 employees since April or May—we’re a different company now, and we may have to make more changes,” said Mark Armstrong, president of Glen Allen, Va.-based Trustcare Home Medical Equipment, who declined the contracts he was offered. “We’re pulling in new business in new metropolitan areas of Virginia. You can’t give up.”

With four assistive technology professionals (ATPs) reaching out to referrals in those new areas, Armstrong has been able to minimize the hit on his business. He’s also selling his inventory of used wheelchairs and beds.

“If I can get 30% on the dollar, I’m taking it,” he said. “I don’t want to sit on this inventory.”

Provider Patrick Mahncke says big changes at his company include re-training employees who used to deliver HME to repair complex rehab equipment.

“They’ve taken courses from U.S. Rehab,” said Mahncke, president of Denver, Colo.-based USA Mobility. “Now they’re working with our existing service department, doing an apprenticeship to get the hang of it.”

Providers say the key to increasing complex rehab business is forming strategic relationships with referral sources. Provider Doug Westerdahl has partnered with The Comfort Company to host a series of seminars tailor made for that audience with Swedish physiotherapist Bengt Engström. Clinicians had the chance to earn CEUs and meet the renowned seating and positioning expert.

“It was very well-received,” said Westerdahl, president of Rochester, N.Y.-based Monroe Wheelchair. “It was a service on our part to provide the CEUs, and allowed us to market ourselves to potential referral sources.”

Westerdahl says his complex rehab business is doing better than expected.

“Maybe companies that won bids are focusing on meeting the needs of those patients, rather than complex rehab,” he said.