HME News

JUN 2018

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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6 www.hmenews.com / june 2018 / hme news e ditorial Publisher Rick Rector rrector@hmenews.com e ditor Liz Beaulieu ebeaulieu@hmenews.com managing e ditor Theresa Flaherty tflaherty@hmenews.com contributing editor John Andrews e ditorial d irector Brook Taliaferro e ditorial & a dvertising o ffice 106 Lafayette Street PO Box 998 Yarmouth, ME 04096 207-846-0600 (fax) 207-846-0657 advertising account manager Jo-Ellen Reed jreed@hmenews.com advertising coordinator Cath Daggett cdaggett@hmenews.com Production director Lise Dubois ldubois@unitedpublications.com re P rints For custom reprints or digital reuse, please contact our reprint partner, The YGS Group, by calling 717-505-9701, ext. 100, or unitedpublications@theygsgroup.com a rt c redits Steve Meyers: cartoon s ubscri P tion i nformation www.hmenews.com/subscribe HME News PO Box 1888 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-1888 800-553-8878 Publishers of specialized business newspapers including HME News and Security Systems News. Producers of the HME News Business Summit and the Home Health Technology Summit. ceo J.G. Taliaferro, Jr. President Rick Rector Real messy, real quick D uring a round of many calls for this issue, i spoke with someone who attend- ed Medtrade Spring who spoke with someone else in-the-know about Medicare's competitive bidding program. They dis- cussed the question everyone wants answered: What. Will. Happen. n ext? Quick review: CMS on Jan. 31, 2017, announced its plans to consolidate all future rounds of competitive bidding into r ound 2019, then on Feb. 7, 2017, the agency took it all back, saying it wanted to give the new administration the chance to review the program. Since then, as the latter unnamed person above said, " i t's been crickets." One could argue that this won't be the industry's or the CB i C's first rodeo with com- petitive bidding and, therefore, they don't need the usual 16-month window to com- plete the process. But as we stand at press time, it's a little more than seven months from the conceived start date of r ound 2019 on Jan. 1. Seven months, or less than half the usual window. a nd it's still crickets. One has to think that CMS is feeling the weight of the current contracts for r ound 1 2017, r ound 2 re-compete and national mail- order program for diabetes supplies, which are all set to expire Dec. 31, 2018. i ndustry stakeholders have suggested that CMS might extend the current contracts by, say, six months, to buy itself more time. Yes, this seems logical, and yes, this could end up being what hap- pens. But it may not be the fail-safe backup plan that CMS thinks it is. i got an email from a provider earlier this month, asking a very good question: " i am a competi- tive bid winner for respiratory but am won- dering if i have to extend my contract if i don't want to?" Currently, if a contract provider goes out of business or a contract provider is terminated, CMS offers the contract to the next provider in line. Presumably, that's what they'd also try to do in the case above. Still, it's a great question, and if a good number of contract providers like the pro- vider above refuse to re-up, the answer could get real messy real quick. hme liz beaulieu Paint the 'American health dream' R e C en T CO n S u M er lifestyle changes have made active clients a focus in our industry. People are looking to be more proactive in their wellness regimes and are looking for products to help them do that. a lthough this is an overall positive shift, it's also a challenging one for our industry: trying to balance the varying needs of this particular consumer group and bring them the products they need. These active consum- ers lie at many points on a large spectrum—some are just kick- starting more activity into their lives, others have intermediate activity levels. This raises the question: "How can a traditional HM e fulfill the wide range of needs that active clients have?" a ctive client demogra P hics Finding a middle ground can be tough, but what remains con- sistent is the general demographics of the group. Who is the active client, and what will get their attention? The customers causing the change in the industry are males and females ages 35-55 with income levels of $45,000 to $150,000. Their inter- ests include eating well, taking an active role in their health, and being involved in their community and family life. r emember these traits and adjust the marketing message accordingly, and it won't matter if the customer who walks into an HM e is a sea- soned marathoner or trying on compression for the first time. d esigning the marketing message The n o. 1 rule is to avoid clinical talk. These people are engaged and excited to own their healthy lives—they're not sick or bro- ken and won't respond to messaging suggesting they are. For all marketing pieces, use lifestyle images to paint a picture for the active client of the life they want to live. i mages of happy people, similar to the demographic you're targeting, doing an activity. i f an HM e paints the active client's " a merican health dream," customers will be more attracted to shopping. n ext, be mindful of what channels work best to communicate the message. g et creative! This market is ambitious, fast-moving and are looking for something different. Find a creative avenue in your market that caters to their lifestyle. Find a brand ambassador—a current customer who this market can identify and engage with. Build a social media campaign around this person's active lifestyle story that will build followers and allow people to connect with your brand. Be conscious of this target market's time. a ctive clients are just that—always on the move. They don't have time to read long paragraphs in a marketing piece or listen to a salesperson exhaust them with information on products. Marketing to these customers needs to be attention-grabbing and to the point. f ulfilling the needs of active clients a ny salesperson will agree—asking questions is crucial for dis- covering the needs of a customer. i t allows them to build rap- port and trust with the customer. Due to the variety of needs and tastes of these active customers, it is important that the salesperson ask strategic questions to understand what they truly need. Start by asking open-ended ques- tions like these to get the conversation rolling: Describe your current activity level? What are your long-term health or fitness goals? What is a hurdle you face in reaching those goals? This should give the salesperson a good idea what the active client is looking for and can make recommendations based off the responses. c hoosing the right P roducts for active clients Providers can easily grow their businesses into serving active clients by expanding their compression and orthotics catego- ries into active and athletic brands. Many providers are already carrying these categories to some extent because they are a natural extension of other main categories like mobility and pain management. By adding active brands and styles to these categories, they can quickly and easily expand their customer base into younger, more active clients. To find quality vendors for these products, remember to assess them by more than just the product and price. Do they offer education for employees? Do they have co-marketing opportunities? e x P lore the o PP ortunity r emember to have fun with this opportunity. This is a new and broader group to reach in the industry than ever before, and if the traditional HM e sees this as an intriguing oppor- tunity, they will have no problem appealing to the interests of this group. —Rob Baumhover is the director of Retail Programs with VGM Group Inc. Connect with Rob at rob.baumhover@vgm.com. guest commentary R. b aumhover

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