Medtrade: Competitive bidding is on everyone's lips

 - 
11/16/2010

I flew from Maine to Atlanta Sunday night to get ready for Medtrade, which starts at 10 am this morning. From all I've heard and seen so far, the industry's biggest trade show  looks like it will be a bit bigger than last year. That makes sense because if the industry does not come together in times like these, it never will. The show always produces a few surprises, but the one thing I know for sure is that the topic of conversation on everyone's lips will be competitive bidding.

The general consensus is that while the industry plans to fight like hell to eliminate competitive bidding, there's no guarantee that will happen. That means providers should hope for the best but plan for the worse.

That was a point of discussion yesterday during a panel discussion with industry leaders sponsored by The MED Group. One question was something like this: What's the best piece of business advice you would give providers?

Here are some of the answers:

Doug Frances, senior vice president, Drive: Start referring to patients as customers because that is what they are. In addition to the products they've been prescribed, what else do they need? This doesn't mean to sell them things just to make a sale, but to sell them products that will improve their lives.

Dave Jacobs, senior vice president, Medline: Must be something to this idea of treating patients like customers because Jacobs had a similar take. He advised providers to maximize the business they do with their current customer base. There's a great opportunity to do more business with patients who already trust you and probably need more of the products you offer.

Carl Will, senior vice president, Invacare: Make sure your company is generating cash or that you have a good source of funding. If you chase sales but don't have the cash to support that growth "it can be the end of you."

Scott Meuser, CEO, Pride Mobility: Too many providers have a business strategy to struggle instead of a strategy to win. Figure out what you are good at and work to be great at it.

And with that, I'm off to the show.

Mike Moran