You'll find Prestige in cash sales

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - With reimbursement on the decline, Prestige Medical aims to convince providers that now's the time to boost their cash sales by selling scrubs, uniforms, blood pressure kits, stethoscopes and related items.
"(Providers) are already buying from us, and it makes sense for us to step out there a little bit more and talk to them more aggressively about how they can use our products to shift their businesses so they are not so dependent on reimbursement,"said Cindy Weinstein, marketing director.
From Prestige's perspective, providers talk to doctors and referral sources all the time. Why not, in addition to soliciting referral business, try to sell them something? In many instances, by focusing exclusively on end users, providers ignore this secondary business opportunity, Weinstein said.
"It's a hand-and-glove thing," she said. "Some of the more traditional (HMEs) might not jump at it, but some people who are exploring new ways to do business will see this and come on board and say, 'I can do a lot more with this.'"
When it comes to selling uniforms, stethoscopes and other items to referral sources, providers can succeed if they find a niche, said Steve Slater, general manager of Airway Oxygen, a 17-location HME in Michigan and Indiana.
For example, one Airway location sits across from a community college with a big nursing program. When the college bookstore decided it didn't want to sell supplies anymore--scissors, pen lights, stethoscopes, etc.--Airway stepped in. Likewise, the company sells a lot of blood pressure monitors and stethoscopes to doctors, nurses and patients.
"The patients go to the doctor who says, 'You should be testing your blood pressure two or three times a day,'" Slater said. "You can buy those things anywhere, but who is going to tell you how to use it and if it doesn't work? where are you going to go to get it fixed?"
Patients often prefer to pay a little extra if they are "confident of getting a good product, good instruction and someone to stand behind it," he said.
When selling these items, small medical practices usually offer the best opportunity. That's because hospitals and large practices often buy direct from manufacturers at prices providers can't match, Slater said.