Part 2: HME News traveled 2,860 miles to Medtrade Spring. Can you beat that?
I can't prove this beyond a doubt, but I believed the HME News crew traveled farther to Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas last week than anyone else—at least anyone in the continental United States.
If you look at a map, that appears to be the case, and according to Google (isn't everything according to Google these days?), the driving distance to Las Vegas from Portland, Maine is 2,860 miles. Fortunately, we did not have to drive, but the 6.5 hour flight, not including a painful three-hour layover, seemed to go on forever.
I've made this trip from Portland to Medtrade Spring each year for the past 13 years. Once we get to Vegas, the time difference is three hours. It takes me 2-3 days to adjust my internal clock to Vegas time and then I leave and have to readjust all over again once I get home.
Anyways, after spending the weekend catching up on my sleep, I returned to the office Monday and reviewed some notes I jotted down at the show. Here are some things that struck me as being interesting for one reason or another.
1. Probably I don't have to tell you this, but it is worth repeating: The most important challenge facing the HME industry is competitive bidding. On the legislative front, nothing else really matters. For example, say the industry delays the first-month purchase option elimination, repeals the oxygen cap but does not eliminate competitive bidding. What has it really achieved? If you're a provider, this perspective should help prioritize your to-do list.
2. When it comes to success for HME providers, there's no golden goose, and if you spend too much time looking for one, you may find that your goose is cooked. "It's the little things that create efficiencies for providers," one exhibitor told me." That could be a new wheelchair design that cuts down the amount of time it takes a provider to fit a client. Or maybe it is a simplified form of some kind. Lots of little incremental improvements across all phases of a company's business add up to big savings. Reminds me of the old adage: Take care of your nickels and dimes, and the dollars will take care of themselves.
3. If the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs is eliminated at the end of this year as scheduled, products must have bullet-proof reliability. CMS won't reimburse providers for repairs made during the rental period. So the more repairs you make, the less you make.
4. Here are some fun facts, courtesy of Cy Corgan, Pride Mobility's national sale director for retail mobility: 1. One square foot of HME retail space generates $1,200 a year in sales; 2. Baby boomers have $1.1 trillion in buying power; 3. Cash sales in the HME industry are increasing 8% to 10% a year. If you're a provider and those numbers don't convince you to seriously consider retail sales, what do you know that the rest of us don't?