Shield gives diabetes another shot

Monday, March 31, 2008

VALENCIA, Calif. – When Shield Healthcare jumped back into diabetes supplies in January, it needed to look no further than its current customer base.
“It’s the No. 1 diagnosis in our database,” said Cheryl Hornberger, vice president of sales. “It’s a great companion to what we’re doing already.”
The company now carries LifeScan and Accu-Chek brand meters and strips and lancets in addition to its incontinence, ostomy, urological and nutrition products.
Diabetes products mesh well with Shield’s box-and-ship business model, said Hornberger. The company’s next-day fill rate is 98%, she said.
This is not the 50-year-old company’s first foray into diabetes, but Shield exited the market five years ago after billing for the items became too onerous, said Hornberger.
While the growing diabetes market helped draw Shield back in the fray, Medicare’s plans to competitively bid mail order diabetes did not. The company did not bid for the supplies in the first round but will “address that in the future,” said Hornberger. (Shield did bid on enteral nutrition products in the San Bernardino area.)
Shield’s biggest payer is Medicaid, followed by Medicare, and the company vigorously pursues managed care contracts, said Hornberger. Shield’sprimary markets are California, Oregon and Hawaii.
Hornberger disagrees with diabetes providers who say mail-order cannot offer proper service to patients. Employees can assess new customers with questions like whether they understand their blood testing range.
“If they don’t, we refer them back to a diabetes educator or physician.” HME