A little PR goes a long way

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11/05/2007

A lot has been said about the need for home medical equipment providers to get the mainstream media’s attention. It’s hard to believe, but most people don’t know about HME (unless they’re caring for an elderly or disabled family member of friend). I didn’t know about HME when I started covering this industry about five years ago. It’s always an awkward moment when I tell people what I do for a living. Me: “I work for a business newspaper that covers the home medical equipment industry.” Them: Nothing.

The attention HME does get from the media often isn’t good. On any given month (even day), you can type “home medical equipment” or “durable medical equipment” into Google News and get a handful of newspaper reports about fraud and abuse. There has been increasing evidence of providers, state associations and other member groups getting in front of the media for the right reasons. Earlier this year, for example, I saw a flurry of newspaper reports about providers and beneficiaries decrying Medicare’s reimbursement cap on home oxygen therapy.

But the media attention needs to come in more than fits and spurts, depending on the reimbursement cut du jour.

I’d like to see more providers following the footsteps of Binson’s Home Health Care in Center Line, Mich. It has contracted with a local public relations firm to get its messages and activities printed in newspapers and aired on TV stations. Just last month, Binson’s got this article printed in the Detroit Free Press and this press release distributed on PR Newswire for all media outlets to see. We wrote this story on Binson’s philanthropic activities in our August issue after reading such a press release.

Blue Murder at St. Trinian's divx

The Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association (ADMEA) is on the same track. In our December issue, I write about how the association recently raised $5,000 to hire a former local TV reporter as a media consultant on an ongoing basis. Already, she has helped the association get stories broadcast on three TV stations.

White Nights rip

A little PR goes a long way.

Liz