Editor's Note

Out of My Depth

Fear of the unknown can hold you back.

One pursuit from which I derive a considerable amount of enjoyment and satisfaction is standup paddleboarding. If you’re not familiar with the sport, it’s a pretty simple concept: Picture a large surfboard, longer and wider than your garden-variety board. Just like a standard surfboard, you stand on the deck, but unlike like surfing, you don’t necessarily need a wave to move yourself forward. Instead, you propel yourself with a long-handled paddle.

It’s that paddle that makes standup paddleboards (a.k.a., SUPs) so fun — you can ride them nearly anywhere. In addition to riding waves, people ride SUPs on lakes and harbors, along coastal waters, up and down rivers and channels, and there are even intrepid souls who shoot rapids on SUPs. And in the surf, SUPs are great, because they let surfers exploit smaller and poorly formed waves that might not otherwise be all that rideable. The SUP has taken a sport, surfing, which can typically only be done in areas where there are waves, and exploded it worldwide — all thanks to that simple paddle.

One of my favorite places to ride my board is a nearby harbor and marina in Dana Point, Calif. Before a surf break was installed in the late 1960s, the spot was one of the primo surfing spots in Southern California. Known as Killer Dana, long sets of well-formed waves would roll in toward the coast, starting far off from the shore. The spot let surfers take epic rides all day long, and it became a haven for the sport’s big names at the time.

But once the break was installed, those all-day rides came to an abrupt end. Fast forward to roughly seven or eight years ago, and board sports have enjoyed a resurrection in Dana Point, all due to the SUP. Now people from all over convene at a small stretch of beach inside the harbor, known as Baby Beach, to put in with their paddleboards. Retirees, young people, and whole families collect at that spot to hit the water. On a good day, the harbor can get so thick with paddleboarders that it looks like a gondolier traffic jam in Venice, Italy. An afternoon paddleboarding at Dana Point reigns as one of my family’s favorite activities.

The times I go paddleboarding solo, I tend to set out at Baby Beach early in the morning, when there’s hardly any wind, and the harbor is nearly silent. When the water is calm and glassy, you can look down and see schools of small fish swimming among long lengths of kelp that reach up from the ocean floor to the top of the water. It’s as though you’re lazily flying above forest treetops while flocks of birds fly below.

But what holds me back from taking standup paddleboarding further is fear of the unknown. Simply put, when the water gets so deep that I can’t fathom the bottom, I get absolutely spooked — especially if I know it’s deep. I can paddle on flat water. I can paddle in swells along the coast, but if I don’t know what’s down below, I might as well be paddling in kraken-infested waters. It’s a frustrating fear that keeps me from enjoying my sport to its fullest, and I have to get over it.

That’s the dilemma that faces a lot of providers these days. With the Medicare reimbursement market such as it is, HME business owners and operators need to explore and develop all new business models. Whether it’s retail, increased private payor, residential treatment, or other new endeavors, the onus is on providers to tap into unexplored business environments — and that’s enough to give even the most intrepid homecare professionals a bad case of the heebie-jeebies.

What’s needed is information. Providers need the kind of data that can help them understand what they’re up against and help them navigate uncharted waters. One key way to get that data is to ensure you have the right technology tools in place. That’s why we’ve dedicated a good portion of this issue to rounding up a variety of software systems available to help providers better run and understand their businesses (see page 18). If you seek for the kind of information that can help you set out into deeper marketplaces with confidence that the waters will calm and friendly, these offerings should help you set your course.

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 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.

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