A little PR goes a long way
A lot has been said about the need for home medical equipment providers to get the mainstream mediaâ€™s attention. Itâ€™s hard to believe, but most people donâ€™t know about HME (unless theyâ€™re caring for an elderly or disabled family member of friend). I didnâ€™t know about HME when I started covering this industry about five years ago. Itâ€™s always an awkward moment when I tell people what I do for a living. Me: â€œI work for a business newspaper that covers the home medical equipment industry.â€ Them: Nothing.
The attention HME does get from the media often isnâ€™t good. On any given month (even day), you can type â€œhome medical equipmentâ€ or â€œdurable medical equipmentâ€ 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 Medicareâ€™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.
Iâ€™d like to see more providers following the footsteps of Binsonâ€™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, Binsonâ€™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 Binsonâ€™s philanthropic activities in our August issue after reading such a press release.
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.
A little PR goes a long way.