Monday, June 30, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS - Medical Express Delivery has begun positioning itself to take advantage of a growing need by HMEs and other healthcare companies to reduce their delivery costs, typically one of a company’s biggest expenses.

“The increasing competition between national companies will provide some pressure on margins, and this pressure will force companies to find innovative ways to save their resources,” said President Jim Gibson.

Gibson hopes that innovation involves his medical courier company, which recently expanded its regional reach by acquiring two delivery companies - one in Louisville, Ky., the other in Evansville, Ind.

Medical Express delivers equipment for HMEs, pharmacies and home infusion companies. It also picks up and delivers blood specimens to several regional Red Cross facilities. Because it has less overhead, among other things, Gibson claims Medical Express can cut a company’s delivery costs by as much as 50% and guarantee the same level of service.

“They can perform a lot of services more cost efficiently than our own drivers,” said Brandon Fries, logistics manager for Apria’s Indianapolis branch, which has used Medical Express for several years. “They can do certain zip codes for $10 when for our vehicles it might be $35.”

Fries uses Medical Express to pick up DME and to deliver infusion and enteral supplies. Apria performs its own in-home set ups because JCAHO requires drivers doing such work to have documented training. But, Fries adds, Medical Express is not a “normal courier service,” and probably could do the set ups.

Because of the specialized nature of medical delivery, Medical Express’s drivers receive training on blood-borne pathogens, TB, patient confidentiality (HIPAA) and infection control. Drivers who deliver DME receive weekly training on new and updated equipment. Drivers also undergo background checks, are drug tested and receive an annual TB shot.

When it comes to delivering equipment and supplies, it’s hard to beat UPS and other big courier services for price. But if you want a company whose drivers possess specialized knowledge and can talk intelligently with patients, it’s worth paying a little more and hiring a company like Medical Express, Fries said.

“I disagree,” said Don Paul, co-owner of AeroCare in Greeley, Colo. “I’ve started two companies and know what that little old lady wants to see at her door, and it’s not a courier service dropping off a walker. She wants to see someone who is knowledgeable and works for the company.”

Medical Express tries to eliminate concerns about customer service with its HME clients by taking every effort to have the same driver drop off an pick up equipment from a patient, said company partner Brent Waltz.

“The biggest concern that comes up is would we be able to maintain the quality of service that they have, and we take great pride in saying yes we can and accomplish that every day,” Waltz said.