Total Health bolsters image with outreach

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ELGIN, Ill. - Total Home Health was set to launch another support group in mid-January to further enhance its status in the communities it serves and separate itself from the competition.
"Through the support groups, we've created a picture of how we care for people," said Donna Grimmett, community education director for the full-line HME, which serves northern Illinois, northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin.
Total Home Health planned to debut its support group for amputees Jan. 18. It already sponsors groups for COPD patients and CPAP users.
Providers looking to brand their business should find a way to distinguish themselves in the marketplace, said Jennifer Keirn, a marketing/communications expert.
"That's the whole thrust of marketing," said Keirn, director of marketing and communications for Roscoe Medical, an HME distributor. "It sounds like (Total Home Health) has looked deeper at their patients. They understand them and their needs."
The support groups, which are each held once a month, feature guest speakers--physicians to talk about conditions, vendors to talk about technology.
Most importantly, however, the support groups give patients the opportunity to network, Grimmett said.
"(The support groups) have opened these people up," she said. "They talk about the different things they're going through, and what they've found by trying different things. To me, that's huge."
Often, patients are more comfortable meeting in a provider's store than a hospital, which can be a depressing setting, said Jack Evans, an industry consultant.
"(Support groups) are classic value-added," said Evans, president of Malibu-Calif.-based Global Media Marketing. "In our industry, we sometimes forget that we're not just selling products."
While the support groups bring prospective customers into the store, Total Home Health is careful not to "push Total Home Health" at the meetings, said Connie Thelander, an administrative assistant who's organizing the amputee support group, agreed.
"Our job doesn't stop when we provide equipment," she said. "Our goal is to give them back as normal a life as possible, and anything we can do to help them achieve that goal, we'll do.'"