What's the jobs report for HME?

Friday, October 12, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine – While stagnant, even dwindling, job numbers appear to be the dominant theme in the HME industry, more than one-quarter of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll say they have added jobs this year despite much uncertainty.

Those who grew their workforce added jobs predominantly in retail sales and marketing (36%).

“We plan to open a new branch in six weeks that will employ four additional employees,” said Johnny Carroll, director of operations and marketing at Alliance Home Medical in Vidalia, Ga.

Other jobs added were in billing/collections (20%), clinical (8%), management (3%) and other (33%).

Other respondents were not so bullish. They cited falling reimbursement rates and audits as the main culprits behind their static growth.

“We have not had the cash flow to increase our staff,” said Lori Sears, owner of Active Home Medical Supply in Lapeer, Mich. “To compensate for this, I’ve been neglecting a lot of administrative duties and working on billing and collections every day, usually long into the night, simply trying to keep the doors open.”

For one respondent, however, the rise in audits—and the time-consuming work that goes into responding to them—has yielded between six and 10 new jobs this year.

Looking forward, due to unknowns surrounding Round 2 of competitive bidding and the elections, the prevailing mood for quite a few respondents is paralysis.

“Jobs will depend on what happens with competitive bidding,” said Patrick Mazey, operations manager at Medco in Orange Park, Fla. “We’re just hanging on and shifting market focus away from Medicare. We’re waiting to see what happens in the November elections then decide which direction to go with investing in business.”

Still, 27% of respondents said they plan to add jobs next year.

“Yes, we’ll continue to expand our retail sector in 2013 with a new location and our online presence,” said Jennifer Wilson, general manager of One Source Medical Solutions in Dallas. “I’m excited about new opportunities and growth.”