New Year, new attitude: 'I am cautiously optimistic about 2011,' provider says

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

YARMOUTH, Maine - It was a dark year for the HME industry, but many providers say they are looking ahead to a brighter 2011.

"I am excited about the future," said Randy Freeman, owner of Fort Worth, Texas-based Mediwell. "I am concerned about some of the changes, but we are going to do well this year. We just have to get used to a different business model."

For Freeman, that means building up his retail business, even as he services the Medicare bidding contracts he won.

"Retail is going to be my savior," he said. "But where you used to be able to advertise in the newspaper, that alone is not going to cut it. We have to get better at using the Internet and optimizing search engines."

Provider Sam Clay, who described 2010 as a "good year," also plans to get better at business.

"Now's the time to become more lean," said Clay, president of Clay Home Medical in Petersburg, Va. "There's a lot of business out there and somebody's got to do it."

With locations in two of the Round 2 competitive bidding areas--Richmond and Virginia Beach--Clay says he is as concerned as anyone else with the program.

"Congress has to realize that with bidding there's a quality and access element," he said. "We have been providing and continue to provide excellent care and that's what we are all about."

Lou Rocco, president and CEO of Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based Landauer Metropolitan, says controlling costs will play a big role in whether a company succeeds.

"We are making improvements in operations and the overall way we are doing business in preparation for competitive bidding," he said. "We think we will be stronger and a survivor in the future."

Audits were another big issue in 2010, but the old saying, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," holds true for provider Bill Bayer.

"We've seen every kind of inquiry from the RAC and CERT," said Bayer, president of Bristol, Pa.-based Medical Express. "We've done well with them and I am cautiously optimistic about 2011."