It was a whirlwind day in Baltimore. There were five sessions and two workshops, as well as a networking reception. Here are some highlights from the day's events:
Douglas Hough, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, told attendees that the success of independent HME providers in the next several years will depend on their ability to prove their clinical effectiveness. If providers can't compete with the likes of Wal-Mart on cost, he said, then they have to develop a system whereby they provide demonstrative value. They have to convince insurers and caregives, he said, that they're making the lives of patients demonstrably better.
A panel led by The MED Group's Don Clayback and comprised of providers Gary Sheehan, Paul Bergantino and Jeff Knight resulted in a "suitcase of ideas" for creating strong, sustainable growth. Two of those ideas: automation and product formularies . Sheehan said his company recently wired its Web site to accept online payments, increasing profits by reducing paperwork and administrative burdens. Bergantino said his company now uses product formularies to consolidate product purchases and, in general, simplify its business. The list of ideas went on and on: using GPS for not only delivery techs but also marketing staff to increase efficiency; implementing intern and apprenticeship programs as a way to recruit promising personnel; and collecting metrics like payroll as a percentage of revenue and the number of new oxygen referrals to improve strategic planning.
The VGM Group's Mike Mallaro, a former accountant, had a numbers-filled presentation on online social networking sites like Facebook and CaringBridge and their potential impact on the HME industry. Did you know that if MySpace were a country, its population would be the fifth largest in the world? Did you know that 17 million seniors are online? Did you know that half of those seniors go online every day? "Shift happens," Mallaro said, "don't miss it."
I'm heading to Capitol Hill tomorrow to lobby with providers and consumers...