'All boats float in still water'


Invacare's Carl Will kicked off Invacare Media Day today with a speech about how HME manufacturers and providers alike need to be strategic, not tactical, thinkers if they want to survive the next few years.

Will, senior vice president, global commercial operations, offered up this example to point out the difference: If I'm a provider, when I'm thinking tactically, the question is, how can I squeeze more out of an oxygen concentrator; when I'm thinking strategically, it's, why am I delivering at all?

"Survival matter a great deal," he said. "Consumers aren't going away...The survivors will thrive."

While providers want to think more strategically, they need to be careful not to add complexity to their businesses, Will warned. Providers can keep things simple by streamlining the number of products they carry within a product category, he said.

"As companies pursue growth, they often become more complex but not more profitable," he said. "They need to rip complexity out of their businesses."

Will also had choice words for accountable care organizations ("we're more the tail than the dog...we have to become more relevant") and competitive bidding ("we fully expect Round 2 to be disruptive" but the industry will adjust).

Will acknowledged that manufacturers and providers alike have challenging times ahead of them.

Still, "all boats float in still water," he said.

He wants to know: Which boats are running hard and in the right direction in rough seas?

Liz Beaulieu