2022 HME Business Handbook: Home Access
Being Prepared To Help Ensure Clients Have Safe Home Access
- By Adam R. Johnson
- Jun 01, 2022
One question I ask every
durable and home medical
equipment provider business that
I encounter is, “Do you sell things
with wheels? Do you sell rollators,
transport chairs, wheelchairs, power
chairs, or scooters?” For most DME
and HME providers, the answer is
In fact, many of the companies
that I speak with have confided
that 50 percent to 75 percent of
their total sales are made up of
wheeled mobility products alone. I
believe that these numbers are true
of the whole DME/HME market.
Some stores may specialize in a
different equipment category, such
as respiratory or sleep services,
but even most of those offer some
mobility products. And for the
provider and the customer, wheels
are particularly important.
Most customers’ largest device
purchase related to their health
will have wheels. The purchase of
wheeled mobility often dictates the
difference between living a normal
life and being a shut-in.
It is a decision that your patient
customers take seriously and trust
your business for guidance and
advice. You spend considerable
time making sure your customers
make sound decisions on the best
devices for their needs. It is equally
important to provide them with
the means to safely navigate their
mobility devices in and around
PART OF THE PURCHASE
Ask yourself, would you buy a canoe,
one you have saved for, scraped for,
or financed, and then neglect to buy a
paddle? That question seems silly, right?
Why would you sell wheels and not go
the next few steps to make sure that your
customer can get the most use out of
Consider the inside of the home. When
I talked to our local OT/PT group, they
recommend that a person in a wheeled
device negotiating a threshold higher
than a half-inch to have assistance. Most
homes have at least three thresholds
that meet the “recommend assistance”
height. Many caregivers spend an
immense amount of time navigating
these challenges in the home every day.
If your customer does not have a 24-hour
caregiver, they might be confined to a
portion of their home or put themselves
in danger by negotiating thresholds that
are not safe. All of this assumes they can
get their device into their home.
It is true that some houses are built
like a castle on a hill — including the
moat! However, most homes can be
made accessible for your customer and
their wheeled devices for less than a few
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Ambulatory people often take access for
granted. I encourage you to spend a day
dragging your feet. Every time your toes
catch on something, ask, “Is this taller
than my thumb is wide?” If the answer
is “yes,” then your customer would get
stuck. Every home should be a safe place,
so do the experiment around your home.
Go from your car to your bed, bath, or
kitchen. You will be surprised.
You do not have to be an expert
in accessibility or have a degree in
engineering to help your customer. Often
the exercise described above and a ruler
are all the tools you need. Many homes
only need a few thresholds to make them
I know you may be getting sweaty palms
just thinking about the ADA guidelines.
A lot of people feel nervous about the
ADA regulations at first, but it is not that
complex. If you grasp these two simple
rules, you will be on the right track.
Rule 1: For every vertical inch of rise,
you must travel one foot to dissipate the
angle. (In limited situations, you can use
a steeper angle, but this rule is always
Rule 2: If the rise is greater than 6
in., you must have handrails. (Often,
handrails are helpful even below 6 in.)
These two rules will guide you in
helping a large number of your clients.
Just like wheeled devices, ramps and
thresholds come in many varieties, levels
of quality, and availability. You would not
tell your customer, “Just go find a scooter
on the internet and have it shipped to
your house.” So do not let them buy their
thresholds that way either.
Your business and your customers will
benefit from increasing your knowledge
in this area. Find a reputable company
that stands behind its product and is
willing to teach you about them. Build a
relationship with people that answer your
questions and sell you what you need in
Being prepared can entail stocking
simple solutions in your store or just
knowing who to call. Support your
customer by being prepared with
information and tools for accessibility.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Nearly all DME and HME providers
serve patients that need safe access
to their homes.
- Home access solutions should
be a consideration of most HME
- Most homes have accessibility
issues for users of wheeled mobility.
- Adopt the mobility user’s perspective
and examine your own home.
- Two rules can help you keep users’
homes within ADA guidelines.
To learn more about home access
solutions that help keep customers
safe, visit www.access4uinc.com.
This article originally appeared in the May/Jun 2022 issue of HME Business.
Adam R. Johnson is Sales Manager of Access4U, a company that manufactures accessibility ramps for people who want to live at home. He can be reached at email@example.com.