Editor's Note

HME's Giant Steps

Diversifying your business requires reliable information -- and sometimes a leap of faith.

When I was a kid, I had one mortal enemy: the high dive. Somehow, the high dive at the local recreation center seemed designed to regularly mock me. When you’re standing on the ground by the deep end, the high dive looks so easy to conquer: it’s not that tall; the pool is probably three times as deep as it needs to be; all the other kids are easily jumping off it with glee — heck some of them are even doing tricks.

So, with routinely trumped up confidence I’d saunter up to the line of kids waiting to climb up the high dive’s ladder. Kid by kid would take a turn, clambering up, coolly walking the length of the board to the end, perhaps taking a bounce or two, and then launching into space for what had to be the wildest, most exhilarating ride of their life. It had to be — you could tell by the ear-to-ear grin of Chiclet-white teeth they’d have plastered on their faces when they’d finally surface.

I wanted to smile that smile.

So, I would wait in line until it was finally my turn, confidently make my ascent up the slippery, aluminum ladder, walk out to the end of the board, and then my world would completely change. Somehow, that high dive must’ve shot 500 feet into the air when I wasn’t looking. I’d peer down and the view would be nothing short of precipitous. The pool looked like a half-full thimble from all the way up there. I might as well have been Sir Edmund Hillary atop Mt. Everest. My breathing shallowed, my pulse felt like Gene Kruppa hammering on a snare drum, a Grand Canyonsized pit would suddenly form in my stomach.

And then, I would predictably chicken out. Oh, I’d try to steel myself against the complete horror. I’d remind myself that other kids had been diving all day long. I’d tell myself I could close my eyes and it’d be over before I knew it. I did everything possible to keep myself from having to turn around and slowly, painstakingly climb down the ladder, and slink past all those smirking kids in humiliated defeat.

And yet I would repeat that very process time and time again. Talk about a walk of shame.

Then, one day, I simply dove off the high dive. There was no line. The climb up was easy. I walked to the end, and I dropped off with no muss, fuss, or soul-crushing terror. I can’t explain what changed. I simply switched off the fear and went. And then I repeated that process — now in triumph — over and over again, to my heart’s content. Feet first, head first, swan dive, jackknife, flip, pretending to accidentally walk off. I tell you, I was practically hamming it up now that I had tamed the springboard beast of the public pool.

Diversifying a provider business presents a similar prospect. In theory, it’s easy to talk about it. The market potential for this new niche is clear and well defined. The referral partners are in place and so are the patients. In fact, some of them are preexisting relationships. The funding sources are clear and the sales staff has been doing their homework. Billing knows how to process the claims. Management knows the vendor resources and the right products. This job can be done.

And then the talk ends, and it is time to strike out and start building the relationships and trying to take things from idea to implementation; from plan to practice. That’s when that high dive starts rocketing into the stratosphere, and the height is more than dizzying.

In this issue, we’ve presented wound care as a solid diversification opportunity for providers (see “Financial First Aid”), and we’ve tried to help you turn off the fear by providing as much information as we can from some key industry experts. There’s solid market potential and there’s a pathway to get to it. We’ve outlined a directory of vendors. And, if that wasn’t enough, we’re presenting two free webinars (thanks to sponsors McKesson Corp.) to help you dig even deeper. Hopefully this will help you stride down the board and confidently take the plunge.

Recently, my kids and I went cliff jumping in a cenoté (a gigantic, limestone sinkhole) in Mexico. I climbed up, two of my daughters stood on either side of me, and we dove in. But the height looked twice as tall at the top, my pulse clearly redlined, and the initial fall took forever. But we also couldn’t wait to go again. The experience reminded me that, without the fear, you’d never have the thrill.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 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 LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.

HME Business Podcast