Mountain View Medical Supplies: Concentrate on patients, not paperwork

Monday, April 26, 2010

Several months and $5,000 into the accreditation process last year, Rick Hartley of Mountain View Medical Supplies stopped dead in his tracks.

“I took a step back and decided it just wasn’t worth it,” said Hartley, the Arvada, Colo.-based company’s owner and founder. “By the time we hired another person (to keep up with the paperwork), we wouldn’t be making any money.”

So on September 30, Hartley dropped his Medicare supplier number.

It wasn’t an easy decision for Hartley, who started the one-location business with his wife in 1994 and grew it to $2.3 million in revenues by 2009. It required laying off one full-time and one part-time employee. They had to break the news to patients, some of whom had been with them since the beginning. And they worried about how it would impact their vendor relationships.

“Our volume would go down, so would we lose vendors? Would our prices go up?” said Hartley. “It was very scary.”

But with seven months of being Medicare-free under his belt, Hartley has nothing but positive things to say.

“Our business is so much better now,” he said. “We can concentrate solely on patients as opposed to dealing with paperwork.”

While some patients were upset, most were understanding and have come back with cash in hand. Hartley’s vendors maintained his previous prices, and he’s been steadily adding more cash items to his product lines in DME, ostomy and urologicals.

He’s focusing more attention on marketing efforts like advertising, direct mail and sales promotions, and as a result is picking up 15 to 20 new customers a month. Slowly, hopes Hartley, these efforts will offset the 20% revenue drop that resulted from the switch.

“If I would have started this business knowing what I know now,” said Hartley, “there’s no way I would have taken Medicare.”