Moving backward to go forward

Friday, November 30, 2007

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Provider Marty Falk's not afraid to take the road less traveled.
Falk, a partner in Helping Hands Medical Supply in Allentown, Pa., has relied on hospice for 90% of his business, but recently, he decided to approach Medicare as a "growth market."
"We're doing things backward, I know," he said. "Most providers are mostly Medicare and going after hospice. What's nice about doing it this way, though, is that we've already developed close relationships with nurses and case managers. There's trust there."
Falk also opened two new locations in October in Wilkes-Barre and Reading, about 75 and 40 miles, respectively, from Allentown.
"Everyone has laid off making acquisitions and opening new locations due to the uncertainty in the market, but now's the time to do it," he said. "I guess it's all in your approach, and we have a different approach. The industry's going to survive one way or the other; we just don't know what form it will take."
To help court Medicare business, Helping Hands got accredited over the summer, Falk said. But more than anything else, he believes the provider's attitude will attract referrals.
"Part of the problem with this industry is that providers are so frustrated with government regulations, they've become hard to deal with," Falk said. "People follow the path of least resistance, and we don't resist at all. Anything nurses want, if it's reimbursed or not, we'll let them know and do what we can."
It's a strategy that's worked on the hospice side. Helping Hands recently signed a $500,000 contract with St. Johns Hospice in Philadelphia to service eastern Pennsylvania, all the way from the New York to the Maryland borders.