Retail is 'new normal'

Sunday, February 27, 2011

LAS VEGAS - While the concept of HME retail has been around for decades, many providers have viewed it as something that is "nice to do" rather than as a business strategy critical to their survival. But with competitive bidding now in place, the loss of Medicare reimbursement has become harsh reality for many providers and they need to find new revenue streams to stay in business.

Instead of lamenting the loss of an entitlement program, HME companies should embrace a new retail-driven era, say speakers at Medtrade Spring, April 12-14, at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

"I have been presenting seminars on retailing in the HME market for over 20 years and initially HME providers would give lip service to the idea," said Jack Evans, president of Malibu, Calif.-based Global Media Marketing and a speaker at Medtrade Spring. "But now that our industry is no longer status quo, retail is appearing to be much more vital for an HME provider's revenue stream and profitability."

The issue, Evans says, is not simply that HME providers need to learn how to expand into retail, but that the traditional Medicare model is history.

"The end of government reimbursement is on the horizon," he said. "While the demand for HME and home care continues to grow annually along with the overall sales of medical equipment and supplies, what is changing is how these products will be paid for in the future. Unless HME providers learn how to focus on selling instead of relying on relationships with referral sources, I don't think they will survive this transition."