At Home with Dealers

Company Name: CornerStone Medical Services

Location/Contact Info:
550 E Market St.
Akron, OH 44304
(330) 374-6802

Established: Akron, Ohio — March 2003; Cincinnati, Ohio — December 2004; Troy, Ohio — December 2005; Sidney, Ohio — December 2005

Types of products sold: Respiratory therapy products including oxygen and CPAPs as well as beds, wheelchairs, walk aids, bath aids and other durable medical equipment.

Size of company: 84 employees, $13.5 million in annual revenues

Innovations of the dealer: What sets every organization apart is its people. Our mission, people and experience combined with our balanced approach, has allowed a unique organization to develop. We have assimilated a team of individuals skilled in managing and growing home care businesses of all levels. We pride ourselves in the ability to incorporate the financial and operational disciplines of the national and regional companies amid the spirit and entrepreneurship of the independents. Integrating these ideas, while combining the focus on community and health that the hospital-based enterprises produce, we blend these ingredients together to formulate what we call conscientious capitalism.

Home Health Products spoke with Tom Sayre, president.

Fun Fact: I like to sing to my wife when I first get up in the morning. My Barry White impersonation needs some work.

Tell us what is unique about your business.
CornerStone Medical Services is a unique model, made up of a business enterprise linked to a health system, while maintaining independent operation. This special structure brings noteworthy balance and added value to our customers — patients, physicians, hospitals and health plans — and drives efficiencies for CornerStone. Communicating the benefits of our model to other health systems throughout the region is received extremely well.

Share with us something you have learned while working in the HME industry?
An experience that impacted me the most was early in my career, during high school. I accepted a position cleaning medical equipment for Wasserot?s, an HME company in Pennsylvania. While I was cleaning a wheelchair, the owner, Paul Wasserot, came up to me and said "If you want to be successful in this business, clean this wheelchair as though you where taking it home to your grandmother." Paul?s words and my own grandfather?s need for home health care a year later encouraged me to always make exceptional care for patients the priority. I have sought out other professionals with the same business philosophy for CornerStone Medical Services.

How do you think the HME business is changing?
In review of the HME industry, significant change has certainly occurred, especially in technological advancements in equipment and reimbursements. As reimbursement has decreased, providers and manufacturers have been encouraged to develop concepts that increase therapeutic benefits while creating efficiency without sacrificing service. This challenge has provided the opportunity for CornerStone to continue to modify existing strategies consistent with our mission.

What is one thing you would change about this industry?
A change in the HME industry I would like to see addressed is the issue of credibility and legitimacy in our industry. The reputation of HME service providers has been challenged by recent acts of a few organizations that have committed fraudulent activities. I believe that the situation falls irrefutably on the industry itself. As an industry, we continue to argue our cases instead of educating past the obstacles. The more we can educate the community and our lawmakers to the validity of how HME organizations benefit health care, the sooner we can surpass the questions and regain credibility as an industry.

This article originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of HME Business.

HME Business Podcast