Editor's Note

Hands-Free HME

Take the oath, and do yourself and the industry a big favor.

Consider the following scenario: A driver is on his typical delivery route when he gets an urgent text message from his spouse. He reads it and responds — all while driving. As he presses the send key, he looks up to discover he’s crossed the double yellow and is about to be involved in a head-on accident. Less than a second later, he andanother driver lose their lives.

Now consider this: What if that driver worked for your HME provider business? Not only would the accident be a terrible tragedy to deal with on a personal level, but it also would negatively impact your business to varying degrees. Some of the obvious consequences would be that you could face civil liability for those involved in the accident, your insurance rates could skyrocket, and your business could suffer lasting negative publicity due to the crash’s circumstances.

Far Too Common

No matter how you slice it, the scenario is a nightmare, and it’s one that should keep you awake at night. Why? Because accidents like that are happening on a daily basis. You only need to casually scan the headlines to confirm that fact. One of the highest-profile texing incidents was the Sept. 2008 Metrolink commuter rail crash in Chatsworth, Calif., in which 25 people were killed and 135 were injured. Why? The engineer was too busy texting to notice a signal light telling him to stop, and his train crashed head-on into a freight train, according to the National Transportation Safety Board in its final report on that crash, released this year.

And sadly there are accidents just like the Metrolink crash happening on our roads on a daily basis. An Alabama truck driver is distracted while talking on the phone and plows into a van of Mennonites, killing 10. A teenager texting while driving kills a bicyclist. The sad fact is that distracted driving is commonplace. Whether talking or texting, drivers are doing everything possible to avoid concentrating on the one thing they should be doing: getting safely from point A to point B.

And while people are getting sick of hearing about these incidents, few states have laws against distracted driving, and not all of them are effective.

For instance, the penalty for being cited for using a cell phone while driving here in California is $25. That’s not a penalty — that’s a convenience fee! While state governments and federal agencies take forever to craft effective laws that will stop this terrifying trend, the fatalities keep mounting.

Make a Difference

So why don’t you as a business owner do something to help stop it? I’m talking about the Hands-Free HME initiative, which was started by sales and business management coaching firm Team@Work, in conjunction with HME Business and its sister publications Mobility Management and Respiratory& Sleep Management, along with a number of industry partners.

The campaign’s goal is twofold: help HME providers, manufacturers and related service suppliers increase road safety, and also raise the homecare industry’s profile through promoting safe driving.

Participating in the campaign is simple. Point your Web browser to www.handsfreehme.com, and take the online pledge that you won’t text while driving and will only use a phone with a hands-free device. Then have every driver in your company take the pledge, too. A simple little pledge can foster a “culture of safety” within the workplace.

But don’t stop there. Let your patients and potential clients know through your marketing, communications and outreach efforts that you care enough about your staff and the community to prioritize road safety. Demonstrating your civic involvement like this advances not just your business’s reputation, but also the profile of the industry. At a time when homecare needs every bit of help it can get, Hands-Free HME is an excellent way for you to do yourself and industry a world of good. Go to www.handsfreehme.com and take the pledge.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

The Key to Patient Engagement