Provider Strategy

Broadening Your Product Range

Diversifying offerings boosts care and business.

Every morning, manufacturers and providers across the country set off to work with one goal in mind: providing the best possible care for patients. The products and services you provide allow your patients to live their lives, and there is nothing more important than that. If you had your way, this would probably be your sole focus, but in order to provide that care and to offer those life-enabling products, you need to stay in business.

With audits and decreasing reimbursement levels diverting your attention, it can seem more and more difficult to keep the focus on providing the best in patient care when business challenges loom large, but it is possible to do both. There are things you can do and products you can add to your “fleet” that will improve your business while enhancing patient care.

Therapeutic Support Surfaces

In today’s market, there is a greater demand for products that are cost-effective yet provide therapeutic benefits. Therapeutic support surfaces (TSS) are one example of a value-added service that will help your patients while diversifying your business and expanding your product offering and reach to new markets and areas not affected by national competitive bidding (NCB).

Even with the current regulatory pressures challenging the market, therapeutic support surfaces are just as important today. The need remains and the market is expanding. You can increase your marketshare with referral sources by discussing features that will help improve patient outcomes, while using a mattress that is durable and will last through multiple rental cycles.

Knowing your TSS products, from prevention to treatment, and correlating those products and features to selling to your referral sources will allow you to brand yourself as a provider selling on therapeutic value. This will help to expand your referral base to other markets.

Wheelchairs and Seating

When you provide a lightweight manual wheelchair to an end user, it is an opportunity to enhance that patient’s care and grow your business by including general use seating products instead of simply sling upholstery. Many patients will benefit from a more clinically beneficial seating product, particularly those who will require the use of the products for a longer period of time.

With education and a change in culture for your organization, it will become more evident how to speak to referral sources about this opportunity to provide superior care. Introducing general use seating with your lightweight wheelchair sales will help to position your business as a clinical provider who is offering solutions for your referral and customer bases.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Transitioning from delivering cylinders to providing your patients with a nondelivery oxygen system is a win-win for both patient care and your business. Demand for modern, portable, ambulatory oxygen systems is growing, and can help you to diversify outside of the traditional Medicare-funded oxygen business. Today, many physicians, clinicians and patients are looking for new oxygen technologies to meet both the clinical and lifestyle needs of an active home oxygen user.

Your decision to invest in and employ operationally efficient non-delivery oxygen systems is both important and timely as you position your company to be a viable and sustainable business, regardless of which way the tide flows, while encouraging oxygen compliance and active lifestyles. As you know, physical activity is great for patients on oxygen therapy, and an oxygen diagnosis shouldn’t stand in the way of your patients doing the things they enjoy.

Bath Safety

With competitive bidding impacting profits, providers are looking for new ways to diversify their business to increase cash flow. One way is to utilize customer service and delivery personnel to put more focus on personal care items. These items are not only applicable to patients but can be used by everyone in the home, and can help capture more sales through existing client bases. Customer Service members schedule deliveries with patients over the phone every day, which creates the perfect time and opportunity to introduce bathroom safety to the customer. The customer service member can suggest a bathroom safety assessment when scheduling the delivery time for other medical equipment and supplies.

After the scheduled equipment is set up in the home, the delivery technician can spend a few minutes identifying potential hazards in the bathroom. A summary of the findings can be given to the customer, as well as an explanation of any recommended products to help the customer increase their safety while also creating an opportunity for you to increase sales.

Bed Rail Entrapment Risk Education

In recent years, there has been increased scrutiny on the use of bed rails in hospitals, nursing homes and homecare settings. Hazardous situations may be avoided with awareness, education and support. Help educate the referral source, the caregiver and the patient about the risks of bed rails. Proper diagnosis and equipment selection, like purchasing a bed, mattress and rails as a complete, new bed system, help to minimize the risk of bed rail entrapment and keep the patient safe.

There is no more important work than what you do every day to help those with disabilities or ailments live full lives. At Invacare, we say that our brand promise is Making Life’s Experiences Possible. That is truly the promise of our industry as a whole.

You should not have to choose between doing what is right for your patients and doing what is best for your bottom line. Enhancing your patients’ care will be good for your business. As the patient base for this industry continues to grow, it is more important than ever that they have products and support to meet their clinical needs.

The above are just a few examples of ways you can meld these two objectives into one. Taking this approach will allow you to focus on what really matters and what is at the core of your business, patient care.

This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of HME Business.

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