Provider takes diabetes personally

Friday, August 31, 2007

ROANOKE, Va. - A few days after being diagnosed with diabetes, Phillip Bane's mother-in-law landed in the hospital with hyperglycemia.
"Her doctor just told her to get some strips and lancets," said Bane, president and owner of United Home Healthcare. "There's no education. So many people are testing their blood, but they don't know anything."
That's all too common these days, said Bane, who began offering diabetes supplies--and diabetes education--about six months ago.
United offers meters, strips, compression stockings and diabetic shoes, along with other auxiliary diabetes products. He's getting the word out with an ad on the back of a local senior guide and sending informational products to local physicians.
"We're not going to get rich at this, but if you've got all those items, the patient is able to come to one spot and you can give them the information they need," he said.
Bane is hoping to partner with local hospitals in an effort to bring diabetes education into the community, holding sessions at assisted living centers and other senior spots.
Bane has no plans to enter the mail-order market, and with competitive bidding looming, Bane has ventured into a market many would consider exiting.
"I'm not interested in being a national," said Bane. "Just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're better. Diabetes is a tremendous market, unless somebody comes up with a cure."
A recent report from the Kalorama foundation said that sales of diabetes products are expected to pass $33 million by 2016. In 2006, sales of monitors, test strips and some diagnostic products hit $18 billion, according to the report.
Bane's future plans call for a retail space, and he is always looking for ways to diversify his business mix.
"I'm not a big believer in having all of my eggs in one basket," he said. "I'd rather have a little bit of every pie then the whole pie."