RDI adds service to combat ASP cuts

Thursday, June 30, 2005

FOLEY, Ala. -- Respiratory Distributors, Inc., now officially RDI Global Solution following the March acquisition of Morristown, Tenn.-based Global Solution, is changing more than just its name. The company is undertaking a series of upgrades aimed at streamlining operations for itself and partner companies.
RDI Global Solution is stretching the boundaries of drug wholesaling by offering customer service and call center services for homecare providers through its new Call Center Strategies program. The new offering maximizes a pharmacy sales force by offering additional products and services to existing patients, said RDI Global Solution President and CEO Keith Trowbridge.
"The pharmacies have the back office already. What they need is education on the products, and they need to know the Medicare rules and regulations that surround those products," said Trowbridge. "We are essentially their outside marketing staff. We make the calls in their name. We do everything in the name of the pharmacy."
Call Center Strategies' staff works with a pharmacy's current customer list, calling patients to see what products they may need based on their co-morbidities. The center cross sells a variety of products, including diabetes and ostomy supplies, vacuum erection devices, arthritis heating pads, canes, walkers and commodes.
The call center will also do reorder calls to recurring customers who need respiratory, diabetic or ostomy supplies.
"We have a couple of our pharmacies that are going into the prescription drug market other than just respiratory medications, and we are calling for their prescription reorders," said Trowbridge. "Very few people do prescription reorder calls. You won't find that at your local retail pharmacy."
Once the call center identifies a patient who needs a product, it's up to the pharmacy to do the leg work of getting the doctor's order, assignment of benefits and billing Medicare. The call center can ship items from its warehouse.
"If we ship the product, the customer gets it at our cost, and we charge a $5 handling fee and the cost of postage," said Trowbridge. "The only place we make money is on the minutes."
RDI charges the contracted pharmacies per minute they spend talking to beneficiaries.
The call center kicked off in earnest in June. It started with 12 people, including one full-time compliance officer, but expects to grow to 25 quickly, said Trowbridge.
"The pharmacies we work with are being fully impacted by the reduction in reimbursement that took effect in January," said Trowbridge. "We took a discount in January, but we couldn't compromise our service level. So, one of the answers is to expand the business and make more money off of different product lines."
With the new call center taking up much of RDI's Foley headquarters, the company's manufacturing center has moved to Global Solution's 20,000-square-foot headquarters in Morristown, Tenn. There, RDI has started manufacturing its own vials. The acquisition of Global Solution also enabled RDI to offer customers a complete USP 797 solution, including clean rooms and powder hoods.