Storage that saves

Monday, October 31, 2005

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - An ugly combination of increasing gas prices and decreasing reimbursement rates are forcing HME providers to get creative, and Doug Stiffler's no exception.
Stiffler, who owns First Choice in Homecare with Dave Mills and Karen Caldabaugh, has outfitted the company's 14-foot Mitsubishi box trucks with an aluminum storage system that accommodates a full inventory of home medical equipment: two beds, six wheelchairs, three concentrators and more.
"The biggest driver was the cost of fuel," said Stiffler, on what spurred him to design and fabricate the system. "When we first opened our business [in 1998], diesel was a little over $1. Now it's about $3."
The storage system saves on gas by allowing driver technicians to leave the business each morning and not come back until quitting time, even when items are added to their to-do list.
In addition to decreasing delivery costs, the storage system increases efficiency: The company's response time is now under one hour.
The storage system has had enough of an impact on the bottom line that the company is seeking a patent, and it's considering marketing it to other providers.
Stiffler said providers who currently "floor load" their delivery trucks or use a tracking system, which involves strapping equipment to the walls of the truck, are missing out.