VGM’s Mike Mallaro on how to get to the other side

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Friday, July 10, 2020

WATERLOO, Iowa – The COVID-19 pandemic has broken the mold for how the HME industry has always done business, but that can create opportunity—if providers are open to it, says VGM CEO Mike Mallaro.

“The way we do business, the speed at which we do things, the way patients experience us—all these things have been disrupted in one way or another,” said Mallaro during the closing session of VGM’s Heartland at Home Conference on Thursday. “Step back, look beyond current reality, reflect on what’s changed and then translate it back down to your world.”

To be sure, there’s a long road ahead, says Mallaro, who estimates it could be a year or more before we get to “the other side” of the pandemic.

Above all else, navigating successfully to that other side requires strong leadership.

“Crises magnify the importance of leadership,” he said. “Steady, calm and confident are required of leaders. Be flexible and adaptive, but be willing to make the tough decisions.”

Leaders should also make sure they communicate—“overcommunicate”—with employees, especially those who may be working from home and dealing with complicated personal situations, such as lack of child care, says Mallaro, who also advises checking yourself on social media.

“A lot of posts are divisive,” he said. “Avoid being an agent of division.”

Many trends that have emerged during the pandemic are likely to stick around, says Mallaro, including the shift to digital.

“E-commerce is growing wildly, and it’s a vastly different operation and approach,” he said. “Don’t treat it as a hobby or a sideline. Go in and go in serious. Invest in search marketing and operations. Treat it as a business, not just a web page.”

To be sure, there are still plenty of headwinds ahead, especially from insurers, says Mallaro.

“We’ll all be challenged to provide a more pronounced value that must be documented and quantified,” he said. “Most providers are experiencing rising costs and the acceleration of narrowing insurance networks.”