The state of the HME industy

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Friday, September 30, 2005

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made headlines a few weeks ago when he revealed the company will spend more on health insurance for its employees this year than it will on raw materials for brewing coffee. While Schultz's focus was on the cost of premiums, the fundamental issue is the cost of medical care.
On the HME front, we're faced with a different problem. We have at least a partial solution to rising costs: equipment that makes it easier and more comfortable for patients to stay at home rather than in hospitals. But how best to develop and use that information?
The inaugural HME Business Summit, held in Chicago in mid-September (See story on page 24), was designed to begin to address these questions. It seemed, in large part, to succeed.
I'd like to highlight a few "key learnings" (as they say) here.
The first point is that the data is out there. HME News Senior Editor Jim Sullivan began the Summit with a comprehensive presentation defining the overall size of the HME market. Using multiple sources, Jim has pieced together a definitive picture of the dollars involved in HME today. The HME Market Index will be refined and updated annually to provide a valuable tool for tracking trends - not just of market size, but of changes within the market.
By drilling down into this data, you can determine trends in product categories and your market share, vital components in your business planning. You have a benchmark to measure your company's performance, as well as a way to look at trends in the industry for new opportunities.
Besides public data such as that in the enclosed HME News State of the Industry White Paper, there are a number of other sources, many of which were delineated at the Summit. The Web is a great resource and much of the information is available at reasonable cost or, in some cases, for free.
Another source of data is within your own operation. By a rough show of hands, about two-thirds of the Summit attendees indicated that they collect hospital admissions data for their patients. However, few of them use that information to translate into outcomes for presentation to referral sources. The same goes for other internal data. The stuff is there, it just needs to be used.
Data gathering and presentation has immediate benefits like increasing sales. That point was made in a number of Summit sessions. However, soon you'll need lots of information, both internal and external in order to build a competitive bid. It's none too soon to begin your own data gathering efforts. hme
If you'd like to see Jim's market size presentation for yourself, I'll be reprising it at Medtrade on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 a.m., along with some other salient points from the Summit. Hope to see you there!

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