Rehab provider grooms referral base

Monday, September 30, 2002

GREENVILLE, S.C. - The rehab manager for an HME store here has taken a fresh approach to marketing by building relationships with prospective occupational therapy and physical therapy assistants at a local technical college.

For two years, Michael Causey of Carolina Homecare Medical Equipment has hit the Greenville Technical College campus at the end of each the spring and fall semesters, not carrying books, but medical equipment. His goal: help students in the OT and PT assistant program familiarize themselves with rehab and seating and positioning.

This year, Carolina Homecare, which does about 35% of its business in rehab equipment, extended its reach and invited one of those students to do level-one fieldwork at the company for a week.

Causey said the relationship between Carolina Homecare and Greenville Tech fills an important gap, as few colleges have rehab-specific programs. "It's kind of a hidden field," he said.

Yet, it's common for OTs and PTs to have clients with rehab and seating and positioning needs, and it's common for them to contact a rehab provider for equipment, Causey said. Those who've graduated from Greenville Tech remember Carolina Homecare.

"This is a big thing for us," Causey said. "These are future clinicians that will soon be out in the field, and when they leave, it'll be with our name in their pocket."

Causey said during his visits, he encourages students to test-drive equipment like wheelchairs. He also reviews memberships and certifications like the National Registry of Rehab Technology Suppliers (NRRTS) and certified rehab technology suppliers (CRTSs).

"But most importantly, I focus on the team approach needed in caring for a disabled person," he said. "You need them, they need us. You need the caregiver."

The program appears to be paying off. Causey said the company's expecting up to a 15% increase in rehab sales this year. HME