Permobil to HMEs: 'You can survive'

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The HME industry may be laboring under all kinds of regulatory and reimbursement gloom and doom, but Permobil did its best last month to give providers something to feel good about.
"Even if you lose all of your Medicare business, you can survive," Permobil President Larry Jackson told 375 rehab providers who attended the company's PowerSurge 2008, an educational and networking event. "You may have to move a little faster into a new market or change your focus, but you can survive."
During the two-day event's opening address, Jackson told attendees that he didn't buy all the talk that beneficiaries are going to die because of competitive bidding and that the industry will dry up and blow away.
Many baby boomers have saved a significant amount of money to finance their retirements and they often have excellent health insurance. That means Medicare is not the only game in town, he said. If competitive bidding prices come in too low, let other companies have that business and move on to greener pastures.
Here are excerpts from talks by some of the event's other speakers.
Gary Leo, president and CEO of The ALS Association
In a keynote talk about chasing your dreams, Leo encouraged providers not to become intimidated by competitive bidding. Providers have the know-how to succeed, he said. "You guys are specialists. I've met four MacGyvers here."
Mark Schmeler, a director of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology
For rehab to evolve into a more stable industry, providers must stress professional education and credentialing; documenting outcomes (evidence this stuff works) will also be key, he said.
Kerri Morgan, an instructor in the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis
"Consumers want to participate in life activities with assistive technology that is safe, reliable, durable, comfortable and easy to use," she said. "Proper technology gets people out of the house and where they want to go."
Kevin Gouy, ATS, RTS, United Seating and Mobility
The key to running a successful rehab company is to know your costs, he said. " We cannot afford to give things away anymore. Giving things away is not a competitive advantage." HME