Women's health providers see growth

Friday, October 16, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine – With many O&P providers rethinking whether or not they want to offer post-mastectomy services, women’s health providers are picking up the slack.

Casey Bolt says business at For Every Woman has grown steadily since it opened in 2013, but the biggest boost has come from local O&P providers opting out of the mastectomy biz.

“I think they are having to take a closer look at product categories and where the money is,” said Bolt, manager of women’s health services at the Greenville, S.C.-based boutique.“As great as this category is, and as much as it is needed, it is not a huge profit generator.”

Low reimbursement rates may mean O&P providers that don’t specialize in women’s health products are taking a hard look at their bottom line and whether or not they want to stay in that market, say providers.

In the Dallas area, there aren’t any O&P providers who offer post-mastectomy services, says Vicki Jones, owner of Longview, Texas based Women’s Health Boutique.

“We don’t consider them competitors at all,” she said. “It’s a very time intensive, labor intensive market because the fittings take a long time. I expect they are looking at the cost of employees and whether it’s truly a profitable area.”

When a local O&P provider dropped out of compression therapy products, A Special Place, which has always maintained a narrow focus on mastectomy products and wigs, branched out into that product category.

“We expanded into compression only because there was such a need and the referrals were asking us,” said Cheryl Pritchard, owner of the Portland, Maine-based boutique.

It’s not just O&P providers exiting the women’s health space. HME providers, pharmacies and even wig stores that had provided these products in the past are rethinking it, say providers. That, coupled with the shuttering of many small boutiques in response to expensive licensure and accreditation requirements, could create access issues, they say.

“Hopefully, that pendulum has stopped and we can get providers to realize that this is something that patients really should have,” said A.J. Filippis, chairman and CEO of Rochester Hill, Mich.-based Wright & Filippis, which still offers O&P and post-mastectomy.