Provider steps into shoe business

Sunday, September 30, 2007

ALBEMARLE, N.C. - Cynthia Jarman's been a certified pedorthist for years, but she hadn't dabbled in that market since coming onboard at Alliance Medical five years ago.
That changed this summer when the full-service DME and respiratory provider expanded its offerings to include therapeutic shoes and off-the-shelf orthotics.
"No one in this area is doing it, and I had people calling every day asking (for these items)," said Jarman, director of operations. "We also have a sister homecare company and the nurses would ask where they could get shoes for those patients."
In addition to shoes, the company now carries socks and shoe inserts, along with a complete line of orthotics like wrist and back braces.
"We're stretching it out a bit at a time," said Jarman, of the company's foray into new product lines.
Jarman said Alliance prides itself on solid service, and she wanted to make sure the new program was "top-notch."
"The staff have all been trained and we now have two certified orthotic fitters on staff," said Jarman. "We're all very excited."
Alliance markets the program to local physicians and other referral sources, and hosts foot clinics and free screenings for orthotics.
Albemarle is located "next door" to Charlotte, one of the first 10 MSAs for competitive bidding and Alliance submitted bids in five categories.
Jarman said she has also been doing careful cost analyses and looking at loss leaders as the company prepares to compete in an increasingly competitive industry.
"We're looking at whether we can continue providing all the current services we do," said Jarman. "With (the new product lines) we're trying to get the cash business. And the shoes are not on the bid list yet."