NewsPoll: 'One-stop-shop' approach is key to success, providers say

Friday, May 11, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine – The best way to sell home medical equipment in this market is to sell it all, according to the latest HME NewsPoll. 

The majority of HME providers—63%—say you can't put all your eggs in one basket.

"In the current environment, with low reimbursements, competitive bidding and insurances going with national DME companies, you have to offer multiple products," said Alicia Correa, president of San Antonio, Texas-based Bexar Care Home Medical. 

Patients and referral sources want a "one-stop-shop," say providers.

"In the long run, it's easier on the patient to have only one place to call to get service and supplies," said one poll respondent. 

An added bonus to offering a full line of HME: It cushions the blow if reimbursement goes down in one category. 

"Having a broader selection can insulate you from reimbursement hits if some agency decides to concentrate on limiting reimbursement in specific categories," said Jay Buckley, general manager of Walla Walla Home Medical in Walla Walla, Wash. 

The current business environment has driven more providers to diversify, they say. More than half—57%—of poll respondents say they have changed their business model in the last year, mostly by adding more products. 

Still, there are plenty of providers who specialize. Being able to concentrate on service and follow-up is key in markets like sleep therapy and mobility, say 37% of poll respondents. 

"Being specialized in one area allows us to differentiate from others," said one respondent. "We still have keen competition, but our niche allows is to concentrate on limited products with continued (for now) reimbursement stability."

Time will tell which strategy for weathering the current environment works best—or even whether providers will be able to make that choice for themselves. Full line HME providers may be forced into specialization, if provider Don Sotto's experience holds true elsewhere. 

"We are in a competitive bidding area and we won oxygen, CPAP and enteral feeding only," said Sotto, owner of Miami, Fla.-based Medical Care Services. "So we were forced to specialize."