Retail: Treat every transaction as opportunity

Q. Is HME retail a real concept or just a myth?
Friday, September 26, 2014

A. In my experience networking with providers who are considering a retail division, there are four common myths that I keep hearing.

You must bill insurance for everything possible

Most suppliers feel every effort must be made to turn a transaction into an insurance claim. We think just the opposite. We treat every customer who comes through the door as a retail transaction waiting to happen. We match the best quality products to our customer and if they want to pursue a claim on a billable item, we help them. Typically, the customer will purchase the product to avoid the paperwork hassles.

Nobody will buy the bigger ticket items

I’m always hearing that “nobody has any money,” therefore it is assumed that nobody will buy better products. People do have money, they just don’t frequent your store. If you carry high quality products and market them direct to consumers they will buy them.

You are limited by Medicare regulations

This is only partially true.Providers must become well-versed on the rules for using advance beneficiary notices (ABNs), and instead of focusing on Medicare, focus on showing the customer products that best meet their needs. Most of the time, consumers will select the deluxe, high-quality item and an ABN can be used to process a non-assigned claim.

The product offerings are limited

HME retail is evolving and there is no reason that one has to carry only “safe at home” senior products. Compression, pain relief products, orthopedic soft goods, sports medicine products and nurse accessories offer great opportunities. 

Jim Greatorex is president of Black Bear Medical. Reach him at