The virtual world is a tumultuous one. The Internet has been a ticket to fame and fortune for some, while others have struggled to keep their dot-coms afloat. Although establishing an online company is not an automatic guarantee for success, the Internet can be a tremendous resource as an additional component to a business plan. Manufacturers and home medical equipment (HME) providers have caught on to this trend, and they are using the Internet as it works best, to augment sales and marketing strategies.
As a sales and marketing tool, e-commerce can be a gold mine for many companies, reducing costs by streamlining business practices and increasing sales by reaching more people — and reaching them faster. Increasingly, e-commerce companies are being developed that provide solutions for manufacturers and HME providers. These e-commerce companies provide solutions by bringing all home health industry-related services to one location.
One Stop Shops
E-commerce is known for its immediacy because people can communicate faster and information can be accessed at any hour with just a few clicks on a mouse. In a time when people are constantly looking for ways to accomplish work faster and get more into a work day, e-commerce can be the answer. In addition to the immediacy of the Internet, many e-commerce sites are working to be one-stop shops of information and resources. The goal is to give users everything they need in one location. Instead of surfing the Web and going to multiple sites, users will be able to find one Web site that meets all of their home medical needs.
There are many benefits to manufacturers and HME providers using e-commerce solutions including: one place for information and services; the immediate availability of information and products; cost-effectiveness of using pre-established e-commerce companies and the accessibility to consumers.
“The biggest advantage of Medihub is really the comprehensive nature of our services and our focus on customer satisfaction. Various components of our offering are tailored to every industry group, from HMEs to distributors to manufacturers,” said Gene Chayevsky, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Medihub.
“Each group wants an affordable and efficient way to embrace the new technology paradigm,” he added.
Medihub is a provider of comprehensive e-business solutions to the non-acute health care industry, focusing on providing services to home care dealers, long- term care facilities and manufacturers or distributors who serve that market.
“Medihub provides tools that will enable our customers to leverage the power of technology and the Internet to achieve dramatic improvements in financial results through streamlining operating costs, increasing revenues, and decreasing working capital or inventory requirements,” Chayevsky said.
The solutions that Medihub provides are grouped into three primary product areas: infrastructure services, hardware infrastructure services and software infrastructure services.
- Infrastructure services provide customers with the required infrastructure to build e-business capabilities.
- Hardware infrastructure services include leasing and installing the computer hardware and networking components required throughout customers’ facilities, connecting sites to an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- Software infrastructure services provide the fundamental software suites for clients to manage their internal operations and build the foundation for true partner collaboration.
“These suites are offered using an affordable and convenient application service provider (ASP) model that allows customers to pay a monthly subscription rather than incur large, up-front, capital costs and removes the burdens of maintenance and lengthy on-site upgrades,” Chayvesky said.
Manufacturers and distributors can make use of the services that Medihub provides depending on their budgets and levels of technology sophistication. For companies with modest budgets and small in-house technology staff, they can have the benefits of Medihub’s technology solutions by using the full scope of the services Medihub provides.
“In addition to these software applications, our manufacturer customers will have access to our suite of electronic marketplace services,” Chayvesky said.
“We see evidence in our market that manufacturers and distributors understand the value of moving their business processes online and collaborating with their customers and supply chain partners via the Internet,” he added.
This collaboration takes place through manufacturers’ own Web sites and through neutral third-party industry hubs or operating systems such as Medihub.
Chayvesky outlined Medihub’s private and public marketplace services:
Manufacturers and distributors understand the value of moving their business processes online and collaborating with their customers and supply chain partners via the internet.
The Private Marketplace Service allows manufacturers to leverage Medihub’s technology to set up their own sophisticated, fully e-commerce-enabled Web sites to create and manage their electronic product catalog, take orders for their products online, have those orders automatically flow through to their existing back-end order management system, provide custom contract pricing and tailored promotions and personalized content to their customers. These services also allow customers, in the case of wheelchairs, to configure their products online; alert customers to their expected delivery dates and order statuses; conduct real-time collaboration with customers on their long-term demand forecasts; search for and design custom financing solutions for customers through an affiliated financial services marketplace; and generally provide superior and highly personalized customer service.
The Public Marketplace Service will provide the same functionality and services to the manufacturers for collaboration with their customers but will give customers access to all of their partners at the same time through the Medihub Marketplace. The convenience of accessing all of their suppliers online through one hub makes this offering especially well-suited to the HME and long-term care community who have shown an interest in doing their purchasing through one electronic marketplace and not 20 disparate Web sites of all of their different suppliers. As a result, many HMEs might ask their suppliers to sign up to the Medihub Marketplace as they may prefer to collaborate with all partners through Medihub.
“Both of our marketplace services will allow manufacturers to reach out to both existing and new customers in new and exciting ways as software designed to facilitate effective and personalized customer interactions and manage special promotions is an integral part of our marketplace solution targeted at suppliers,” Chayvesky said.
Customers will be able to get real-time feedback on the success of their promotions or offers and will be able to adjust their offers.
“An additional benefit to manufacturers of our public marketplace service is that they can use our transaction platform for managing relationships and transactions with all of their suppliers–both of components and raw materials as well as of services and office supplies,” he said.
“We don’t just offer technology out of the box and hope that our customers will maximize value and return on investment. We will provide substantial education and training to make sure that customers optimize the use of our various services,” Chayvesky said.
Medihub also offers consulting services to help manufacturers review their current business processes and implement change to ensure that the internal processes match new technology solutions, and that old inefficiencies are not just migrated to the new platform.
Home Health Provider.com
Home Health Provider.com is one of the 58 online communities from VerticalNet Markets, one of the strategic business units of VerticalNet Inc., Horsham, Pa. The focus of Home Health Provider.com is to unite HMEs, manufacturers and distributors by providing in-depth content, community and commerce needed to transact business on the Web. It is also a one-stop shop for the home health field.
“HMEs and HHAs can find the information they need to quickly locate, source and purchase products and services online. Manufacturers, service providers and distributors can leverage a one-to-many solution by showcasing products and services to target and reach highly qualified buyers and make sales,” said Lou Pilla, editorial director, Healthcare Science Group of VerticalNet Inc.
Home Health Provider.com works with manufacturers by evaluating their e-commerce objectives – whether that company is looking to attract buyers, showcase products and services, generate leads and sales or build closer relationships with their customers.
“VerticalNet offers a wide variety of products and solutions, such as online catalogs, for each company to increase sales and transact business on the Web,” Pilla said.
Some of the benefits of being connected to Home Health Provide.com include: receiving information on industry trends; a buyer’s guide to help users find products, services and vendors; and access to online RFQ and RFP functionality that enables both buyers and suppliers to create, track and manage RFQ/RFP requests and responses online.
As people become more involved with the tremendous savings Web applications offer, we will see more migration to sites like ours that offer single source solutions.
Users can stay informed about upcoming industry-related tradeshows and events, and can put event announcements on their events calendar at no charge. In addition, visitors can go to the download library and download free software and utilities.
“Home Health Provider.com’s online catalogs, called E-Commerce Centers, provide suppliers with a solution for clearly showcasing and selling products and solutions, providing detailed product information and selling online. Our E-Commerce Centers enable suppliers to integrate all products and services within hosted or remote catalogs so buyers can easily find and buy what they are looking for,” Pilla said.
Suppliers can take advantage of the product showcase, build demonstrations online, spotlight new offerings and offer customized pricing and a distributor locator to simplify the product discovery and buying process.
With employers concerned about workers spending valuable work time surfing the Web, one of the challenges for e-commerce in home health centers is the user’s ability to access the Web, according to Pilla.
In order to meet this challenge, Home Health Provider.com provides users with one place where everything they find is relevant to the job they do. “As people become more enfranchised and involved with the tremendous savings Web applications offer, we will see more migration to sites like ours that offer single-source solutions.
“Of greatest importance in the year ahead will be or ability to continue to provide the optimal online experience for our customer and users,” Pilla said.
The e-commerce train is rapidly moving into the future and more people are getting on board. Companies have realized the positive impact of e-commerce solutions in terms of immediacy of information, streamlining services and saving costs. As e-commerce solutions evolve, more companies will embrace this technology and incorporate it into their business plans.
Medilogix of Atlanta developed HMEHOME.com, a Web site providing resources, news and information to the home medical equipment provider industry.
HMEHOME.com offers a forum for providers, manufacturers, suppliers, service companies, software developers, buying groups, associations, and industry professionals to come together.
The 15 Step HME Web Plan
- Get internet access and email at your office
- Get the right computer hardware system
- Get the right software for your business
- Network your internal systems
- Register your company domain www.yourcompany.com
- Create a Web site with E-Commerce (the critical step)
- Set up a standard office desktop management system
- Find a Web hosting company and get email for all personnel
- Market your Web site
- Spend time on the Web and do the research
- Consider wireless email accounts for field personnel
- Assign one person in your company to manage your Web strategy
- Interact with distributors and manufacturers and customers online
- Track your online results and activity weekly
- Be prepared to modify your Web strategy often
For more information, visit www.hmehome.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.