Premier opens third retail location

Monday, April 25, 2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The demand for health care is going to keep growing, and Premier Home Care plans to grow right alongside it. In February, the provider opened its third retail location.

"We think that those home healthcare decisions are going to be more and more consumer driven in the future," said John O'Callaghan, vice president of retail operations and home accessibility. "We want to be there to provide those options to consumers."

The 2,100-square-foot location is located in a growing area with three new hospitals. Designed with retail in mind, it features good lighting, slat walls and a home accessibility showroom. The retail store stocks everything from disposable medical supplies, ADLs and diabetic shoes to scooters and power chairs. 

It's not enough just to have the right products, said O'Callaghan. Merchandising is equally important.

"There might be products that you're selling that aren't pretty and don't have good packaging, but somehow we have to display them in a way that can make it easy to look at and touch and feel," he said. "And then, we want to be able to talk about features and benefits and what it will do for them."

Shifting gears toward retail has meant tackling new ideas for generating new business, said CEO Jeff Knight.

"The hardest thing is knowing that, as your business model changes, you have to advertise," he said. "How do you hit your target audience? We've done radio, television and some print."

The 14-year-old Premier has eight locations in all--five are traditional HMEs. The provider offers a full line of respiratory and durable medical equipment. Medicare comprises about 58% of its overall business--a number Knight would like to see much lower. 

"We're leaning toward anything that pays cash or you don't have to bill a third party," he said.

To that end, Premier Home Care has started dipping its toe into new homecare areas. In February, the provider began ramping up a physical therapy division out of its Richmond location, and last year launched a private care division called Caring Hands, which offers non-medical services, like shopping and light housework (see related story).