The 2014 HME Handbook: Home Access

How to Expand Your Home Access Business

How can providers build a plan that will help them tap into this important revenue opportunity?

Home Access BusinessAs providers continue to broaden their revenue streams and diversify their businesses, home access has grown to be an important opportunity to accomplish that. Home access products and services are largely cash-driven and cover a wide range of categories from bathroom grab bars to entire home remodels.

Moreover, as a business opportunity, home access offers providers a pathway building a business. They can start by offering simple products and work their way up to more complex undertakings as they build relationships with other service providers, such as contractors and subcontractors.

And that’s important, because patient demographics are working to the advantage of the home access market — specifically, an aging United States, and our nation’s obesity epidemic. Both senior and bariatric patients need home access solutions, and their numbers are considerable. There were 40.3 million people age 65 and older in the United States in 2010, and the 77 million-person-strong Baby Boom is well into retirement. Also, depending on the study, the population of patients either weighing 300 pounds or more, or with a body mass index of 40 or more, is high as 9 million people.

But to expand the range of services to these growing markets, as well as other key home access customers, such as mobility patients, providers need a plan to take their home access business to the next.

Breaking It Down

A good way to expand is to create milestones. If a provider can work various pre-defined “levels” of capability, then they will have a plan for expansion mapped out in front of them. Fortunately, this has already happened to some degree. The VGM Group’s Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA), which is a special network of providers and contractors that offer home access services and products, has outlined various levels of home access service capability for holders of its Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) credential.

This way, CEAC providers can work up from one level to the next while ensuring they cover the minimum standards for safety, competence and capability. Moreover, other home access businesses that might want to work with them will be able to get a clear picture as to the extent of the provider’s home access skill and knowledge.

Level by Level

And for a provider looking to ramp up their home access capabilities and business opportunities, these CEAC levels offer a clear roadmap. Let’s take a look at them:

Level 1 — The provider understands and can competently offer threshold and suitcase ramps, basic assistive transfer devices, bath safety, and multiple aids to daily living.

Level 2 — The provider can offer products requiring simple installation, such as portable ramps with handrails, standing poles, bedrails, portable patient lifts, trapezes, and bath and tub lifts. This also covers all products that require operational training and simple technical instructions.

Level 3 — The provider understands light remodeling and has the necessarily knowledge to comply with applicable local building codes and license requirements. These providers can assess needs and provision of products and equipment, accordingly. They are manufacturer trained for more complicated modular ramps, grab bars, and bridge lifts. Also included are modular ramps with platforms and turns, grab bars and handrails.

Level 4 — Designates CEAC and CAPS certifications to comply with all applicable local building codes and license requirements. Providers will give the client an assessment and have obtained manufacturer training. These providers can sell and install stair lifts, vertical platform lifts, and ceiling lifts. They can also sell and install roll-in showers, walk-in tubs, vertical and incline platform lifts, and wall- and ceiling-mounted track lifts.

Level 5 — This is a CEAC designation for Certified Aging in Place Specialists (a National Association of Home Builders credential), certified or licensed healthcare professionals, licensed contractors, and remodelers. Projects at this level are considerably involved and typically require a team approach. These providers comply with any applicable building codes and license requirements along with involving the licensed trades, such as plumbers and electricians.

Typical projects for these providers would be complete bathroom modifications or renovations, such as roll-in showers, walk-in tubs, widening doors, kitchen modifications, additions and elevators, along with the more advanced previous levels. Other projects included in these providers’ expertise are wooden ramps and decks, complex bathroom, kitchen and bedroom remodels, power door openers, non-slip flooring, room additions, and indoor elevators.

Differentiation Through Education

Truly, home access is the nexus between clinical care, durable medical equipment and actual home construction. For providers that wan to become true experts, then having certifications such as CEAC and CAPS, as well as manufacturer training is essential, but they should also add licensed contractor expertise. Also critical are the necessary forms of insurance and a solid understanding of city, county and state building codes and regulations. Having this knowledge on the company’s team not only protects the provider and patient, but ensures a quality job and establishes the provider as the go-to source for home access services.

Points to Remember:

  • Home access represents a key way for providers to diversify their revenues and escape the tough Medicare funding environment.
  • The trends of an aging America and the country’s obesity epidemic create a demographic imperative for such services.
  • Home access services are easy to get into with simple products, but more importantly, they offer a way for providers to expand their offerings given how extensive some home access products can become.
  • A good way to approach that expansion is to take new services in tiers, as providers incrementally add knowledge and capability.

Learn More:

  • To help you build your expertise, investigate the Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) credential, which is available through the VGM Group’s Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA; Also, look into the Certified Aging in Place Specialist designation from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB;

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of HME Business.

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