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Providers emphasize safe bets, flexibility

Providers emphasize safe bets, flexibility

mark nicoteraYARMOUTH, Maine – More than a year after supply chain issues upended normal ordering and inventory processes, things are slowly improving, say HME retailers. 

“There are better lead times and some stuff is coming in quicker than expected, but it’s still crazy keeping track of inventory,” said Kevin Brown, one of the owners of at Hermitage, Tenn.-based All Star Medical. “We do carry more in the back on-hand than we used to just because (that’s safer).” 

The matrix 

Flexibility is the name of the game if providers want to make that sale, they say. 

“There were times we couldn’t get a crutch or front-wheeled walker, but the vast majority of constraints are gone and getting better quickly,” said Mark Nicotera, CEO of Phoenix-based AZ MediQuip. “We’re quite flexible with our product matrix so when we couldn’t get something, we are quick to move on to other products.” 

‘In spurts’ 

It’s still hit or miss as to which products providers are able to get their hands on. A nationwide backlog of CPAP devices is easing, but providers – and their customers – are often facing lengthy waits for power mobility items, they say. 

“Some of the scooters are 60 and 90 days,” said Brown. “I think even the manufacturers (don’t) know when it’s coming. It goes in spurts, whether it’s one model or one brand.” 

Rules of engagement 

Even as providers juggle inventory, they are also battling the perception that it’s cheaper and easier to get products online. 

“I talk to them (about) the service and 50% stay and buy,” said Jim Leedom, owner of Lomita, Calif.-based Home Health Depot. “Even with premium membership and free shipping, if you need it now, you need it now.”


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