Today’s needs, tomorrow’s vision

Thursday, July 31, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa--The flooding Cedar River drove the 650 attendees at VGM’s annual Heartland Conference home early or in search of higher ground, but not before a day’s worth of speakers distilled a ton of useful information.

In case you missed the June event, here’s a sampling of what some speakers had to say.

Darren Jernigan, vice president government affairs, Permobil

Jernigan broke his neck in a car accident 18 years ago when he was in college and has used a power wheelchair ever since. In an opening session that was mostly inspirational, Jernigan said that “when adversity strikes you, don’t ask. It’s a futile question.” Additionally, “If you do what you’ve always done, you should expect to get what you’ve always received.” While not directly referencing the challenges of the HME industry, Jernigan’s message of hope and hard work seems applicable.

Ty Bello, Team@Work

If the HME industry has a cheerleader, it’s the always enthusiastic Bello, a popular industry consultant.

In a session on recruiting and retaining employees, Bello offered attendees words to live by:

- Hire for today’s needs and tomorrow’s vision;

- Mentor and train employees to get them ready to take on increased responsibility;

- If you let an applicant take paperwork home to complete, you won’t know if he can read or write; and

- If you don’t have the right team, your business won’t perform well.

Jane Wilkinson-Bunch, founder of Jane’s Billing

Wilkinson--Bunch told attendees that to grow an HME business, providers must train intake staff to assess a patient’s needs-and where appropriate to suggest add-on sales.

“If the order is for a bed, maybe they need a trapeze bar or a pressure relief mattress,” she said.

“You’ve got to teach intake to assess by diagnoses. With all the (reimbursement) cuts, we’ve got to do everything we can to make a living.”

Louis Feuer, president,
Dynamic Seminars & Consulting

In his session, Feuer urged attendees to go retail and offered them these insights:

- If you think seniors don’t have money to pay cash, go check out a Las Vegas casino.

- Every thing you do in retail is for the customer. “You need to teach your staff that they don’t work for the boss; they work for the customers.”

- Employers often hire in their own image. Idiots tend to hire idiots. So “the next time you hire an idiot, look in the mirror.”

- If customers say they can get an item cheaper at a big-box store say, “Of course you can. Quality costs something.”

Sarah Hanna, vice president,
ECS Billing & Consulting

When it comes to your billing software, Hanna said, most providers don’t use all of their system’s functionality. “We are quick to say the system stinks and get a new one, but you can (often) improve your efficiency with what you have if you learn to use it a little better,” she said.