Reporter's notebook: Walmart brochure ‘disparages’ providers
YARMOUTH, Maine – As far as provider Lisa Feierstein is concerned, businesses can do what they like as long as it’s legal. But she took umbrage with a recent marketing piece from Walmart touting its new line of “truefit” CPAP supplies.
The colorful brochure states that only 50% of CPAP users change their accessories as recommended. The reason: Because accessories have only been sold at medical equipment stores, they tend to be expensive and inconvenient for consumers to access, according to the brochure.
“I feel that is disparaging of our industry, which is being assaulted on all fronts for everything we do,” said Feierstein, president and co-founder of Raleigh, N.C.-based Active Healthcare. “Sell on your merits, not against somebody in a negative way.”
The products are designed to work with major brands of CPAP devices, including ResMed, Philips Respironics and Fisher & Paykel. Feierstein said her staff was trying to assess whether the truefit products were truly less expensive than what she offered to cash-paying customers.
Providers aren’t surprised to see CPAP supplies filtering into mass-market retailers. In 2012, Philips Respironics initiated a 30-day pilot project that put replacement supplies in seven Kroger stores in Ohio.
Still, providers say they don’t think even Walmart will take over the market for supplies.
“I think the differentiator is the red tape,” said Ricky Savage, owner of Preferred Home Medical in Tyler, Texas. “Their goal is cash and carry. Those that are depending on insurance to get what they want will still have to come see us.”