Provider looks to web to create revenue stream

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's uncharted territory for provider Cindy Scheible, but she's confident her new e-commerce venture will capitalize on the growing demand for incontinence products.

With competitive bidding and increasingly complex documentation requirements overhanging the industry, Scheible was looking for a retail revenue stream, she said.

"As HME providers, we don't really know what's coming down the pike," said Scheible, owner of St. Louis-based Clover Care.

The incontinence market is a new world for the three-year-old Clover Care, which mainly does respiratory and durable medical equipmetn. To start with, Scheible will offer product lines from a handful of manufacturers and "tweak" the offerings as she goes. A fulfillment company will process orders--which can be placed online or over the phone--handle shipping and maintain inventory.

Customer service, however, will remain in-house at Clover Care.

"I feel like customer service is always important no matter what I am getting into," said Scheible. "We work hard at keeping our patients at the forefront of what we do. We try to take great care, pride and humility."

Clover Care has some competition in the online incontinence market, including a local company that Scheible says does about $45 million annually. She thinks there's enough business to go around.

"This is a huge growing portion of home health," said Scheible. "If we put ourselves out there and do it well, we almost have no choice but to garner some of the business."

As the new venture rolls out, Scheible will look at adding more product lines and developing customer incentives, like club memberships that offer discounts for standing orders.

"With some of the decisions I have to make, I keep waiting for the exact right answer to pop up," said Scheible. "The good thing about the Internet is that changes are easy to make."