The secretive Mr. X and the HME Expo

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08/15/2008

In mid July, just after Congress delayed national competitive bidding, I received an email from Mr. X, a well-known but secretive industry insider who delights in giving me a hard time. When his e-mail showed up in my box, I thought: Jeez, Bubba, what is it this time?

He wrote:

“Mike, what role will HME News play in getting the story out that with

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Stormbreaker film national competitive bidding delayed, providers now have time to reset their business model—not just by looking at product costs but also by looking at those activities that represent 70% of their costs, the way they run their business? Non-delivery; product formulary, co-pay collections, etc.”

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I wrote back:

The Breaks rip “Dear Mr. X, that’s simple: The HME Expo & Conference, April 21-23, 2009 in Baltimore. HME News is co-producing this event with Access 180 (a group of trade show professionals with a long history in our industry). We’re creating the Expo from scratch with the goal of helping providers change their business model to accommodate decreased reimbursement. I see this 18- to 24-month bidding delay as a major opportunity for the entire industry. This should be an incredibly exciting time for all of us.”

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I stopped for a minute to think and then continued.

“Recently, I began calling providers and asking them what they want the HME Expo's educational offering (which HME News is developing) to look like. It's all about the bottom line, they said. Providers don't want a comparison of portable oxygen concentrators. They want to know how they can make their billing departments more efficient. They don't want to know how to sell their company; they want to know how to grow it. They want to know how to use technology to make their companies more efficient. They want to know how to diversify their product and payer mixes. They want to know how to cut costs by renegotiating their telephone and other administrative contracts. They want to know more about cost accounting and how to read a P&L statement. They want help with customer service, sales, vehicle routing, retail sales, hiring and retaining good employees. They want to know what traits successful entrepreneurs share. They want networking opportunities with other providers who are in it for the long haul.

“The bottom line is this, Mr. X: Providers want to succeed in the changing/evolving HME marketplace, and that is exactly what we are going to help them do.”

Since that e-mail exchange, we have continued to work hard on the Expo. In early August, I began to refine our educational sessions by conducting a Web survey with hundreds of HME providers. The Expo, they said, must provide insights into how to reduce service calls, improve customer retention and boost employee productivity. Needless to say, the information we gather from providers will prove invaluable as we develop the HME Expo’s educational program.

As Mr. X said, if providers want to survive, they must become better in all phases of their business. The goal of the HME Expo & Conference is to make that happen. We’ll help you make the connections that will keep your company in the game.