HME News

NOV 2017

HME News is the monthly business newspaper for home medical equipment providers. This controlled circulation publication reaches 17,100 home medical equipment services providers, including traditional HME dealers & suppliers, hospital- and pharmacy-o

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hme news / november 2017 / www.hmenews.com 9 c ommentary By m icah Swick i re AD A n article recently on mar- keting in which the author said, " s o you've seen the future, or rather, the present…" I paused and thought, in the h M e industry, we aren't even there yet. We're still talking about retail as though it's something on the hori- zon and trying to plan our next steps as if we were entering unchar- tered waters. The retail era isn't coming soon to a nearby city. It's here, now. And, there's no need for fear and trepida- tion. After all, the Book on r etail has long been written—we just have to follow the guide and apply it to the h M e industry. The great news is, consumers are far ahead of us, ready and wanting retail h M e . o n the manufacturer and pro- vider side, too many have been entrenched in the medical-insurer model. Thirty years ago, consum- ers only pursued h M e based on prescription and insurance cov- erage. The rules have changed in 2017. Today, there are 76 million baby boomers. They're educated, with disposable income, seeking to live the highest quality of life possible. They see h M e as lifestyle enhancing and gladly pay for it out- of-pocket. In this way, h M e retail consumers abound; we merely need to deliver the products and services that they wish. In a deliberate effort to stay con- nected to and in touch with our consumers, we at Pride participate in many consumer expos around the country each year, and we've seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior and mindsets. Consum- ers have more than just accepted that they're going to pay out-of- pocket; they are eager to do so when the product is something they can get excited about. What's more, they're researching and get- ting excited about h M e as they would any larger purchase. When they arrive at an expo, after hav- ing performed extensive research online, consumers are exception- ally savvy about what they wish. They're there, knowl- edgeable, and ready to buy. Whereas consumer expos once focused s o l e l y o n b r a n d awareness and educa- tion, they've become an important part of our marketing and sales strategy—and a fantastic study for providers. o ur local, attending providers come ready to take cred- it card payments, extend financ- ing, and close sales. A significant number of consumers come fully intending to make a purchase or review new products and be at the top of the list for those not yet available. This business model translates directly to h M e retail showrooms. If consumers can enter a provider and have retail options presented to them, they're ready to buy! Again, the consumers exist; we need to serve them with the retail products and services that they desire. With all that said, the deciding factor, as with any other retail channel, is most often the product offering. Consumers are look- ing to either meet a need or be inspired— or both. And, savvy retailers and manufacturers should look to do both. o ur goal is to deliver prod- ucts that address a necessity, but likewise have benefits that inspire. While many providers remain hesitant to embrace the new era of retail products, consumers have their arms and their wallets open. As we've launched retail-inspired scooters—from price points to features—we've seen phenomenal market success. Consumers are insisting on feature rich, stylish, high-quality products, and when products meet demand, retail sales occur. o f course, products aren't the only answer. We know we need to meet our customers where they shop, in great retail locations, with inviting environments and robust e-commerce platforms. We need to be able to accept multiple forms of payment, including flexible financ- ing programs, and we need to pro- vide great customer service experi- ences and expert sales support, and we need to merchandise our show- rooms and advertise. h M e retail consumers are here and ready! And, I believe the best years for h M e are in our future… make that, our present! hme Micah Swick is director of Pride Sales. Reach him at mswick@pridemobility. com Je R emy k au T en W h IL e DATA breaches at large businesses such as e quifax, Target, Anthem, Yahoo and major health systems often make the headlines, the majority of data breaches affect small businesses. Typically, small businesses do not have the resources to organize and fund a sophisti- cated IT security pro- gram. h ackers know this, which gives them an advantage when targeting a business to attack. Most unsuspecting victims find out about an attack when it's too late. In fact, insurance experts estimate that 60% of small businesses will go out of business within a year of having a major data breach, and 70% or more of all attacks are on businesses with fewer than 250 employees. The healthcare industry, as a whole, is the golden goose for hackers. Patient files contain infor- mation that hackers can sell on the black market, fetching prices as high as $100 for a full patient record compared to selling cred- it card numbers that can usually only be sold for around $1. h ack- ers are seeking s ocial s ecurity n umbers, dates of birth, moth- er's maiden names, cell numbers and, recently, health insurance ID numbers to purchase prescription drugs and sell them. There are many disruptions taking place in our industry from regulatory changes to margins shrinking, and a breach can com- pound those issues beyond imagination. I like to compare it to an oil spill and the devastation it causes the compa- ny well beyond the incident. It is expen- sive, and the nega- tive publicity will have a huge impact on doing business with patients, caregivers, referral sources and, ultimately, insurance companies. In recent months, cyber secu- rity and data breaches have been a hot topic for DM e providers. Almost daily, I am contacted by providers seeking advice on how to prevent being hacked and have spoken with providers who have been breached, and it is a horrify- ing conversation. When advising providers on what they should do to protect themselves, I have identified four common items that all businesses should address A s AP: Cyber liability insurance – o ne of the easiest ways to protect your business is with a cyber liability policy. This will do two things: it will cover some of the expenses that arise quickly out of a breach, and the insurance agent will typi- cally go through a list of best prac- tices and can even offer additional training resources. BY o D – Bring Your o wn Device is a technical term for employees using their own devices to access your business network. I am finding that many providers are allowing personal computers to be used while working from home or even at the business. Comput- ers accessing your patient data should be supplied by the com- pany and set up with restrictions and security protocols. Your user's personal device typically access- es websites that would normally be blocked at work, because of this access it increases the likeli- hood of software being installed on your network, unknowingly, that contains harmful viruses or malware. IT policies and procedures are a question I field often. h aving updated policies as they relate to the use of your company technolo- gy can protect you and also advise employees on what is acceptable or not. r eview your policies to be sure they are up to date for modern technology use in your business. e mployee awareness training - The most advanced security pro- tocols can't protect an employee being tricked into clicking on a link or falling for a scam. A num- ber of easy-to-use and trackable training programs are available to help educate staff. r egular training helps to build an additional line of defense to ensure company and customer data remain secure and protected from hackers and other online threats. o verall, securing your business against hackers can be compli- cated and feel like a black hole of spending. s tart small; something is better than nothing. Creating a budget and increasing it each year is a good place to start. h ackers work full time to find ways to penetrate a business's infrastructure to capture compa- ny and patient data. They will do anything they can to gain finan- cially from IT oversight. Don't risk it all; arm yourself with the tools to successfully protect your business from online threats. hme Jeremy Kauten is CIO and senior vice president of IT at VGM Group, Inc. Reach him at jeremy.kauten@vgm.com. Annu A l A ddress: Pride mobility P roducts Annu A l A ddress: t H e vgm grou P Buy into the hype: Consumers are retail-ready They insist on feature rich, stylish, high-quality products, and when products meet demand, retail sales occur Cybersecurity: Is your business at risk? aa h c o n t i n u e d f r o m p r e v i o u s pa g e states. o ur payer relations team also convinced T r ICA re to ret- roactively reimburse suppliers based on the CU res -mandated relief I noted earlier. w e can do more, with your hel P I am excited this year has seen h M e advocates hold off pro- posed cuts at the state level and for C r T accessories, and that our efforts also led to additional payments to suppliers serving patients in non-bid areas and T r ICA re beneficiaries. But it's just a first step. The tremendous support we've had from suppliers, man- ufacturers, and other companies in the h M e space who are a part of AA h omecare has fueled these accomplishments. These com- panies, through both their dues dollars and their engagement on advocacy issues, are why we have been able to considerably strengthen this industry's influ- ence and credibility on Capitol h ill and at CM s . For the companies that aren't yet part of our association, I hope you'll look at what we've done and what we're trying to achieve to help improve your balance sheet—and consider joining in our efforts. hme Tom Ryan is president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. Reach him at tomr@ aahomecare.org. jeremy kau T en micah s W ick

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