Editor's Note

You're in the Driver's Seat

Despite voluminous changes, providers continue to prove they're in control of their businesses.

Often in business management seminars, articles and books, you’ll come across the expression “change management.” The capacity to adjust and respond to external changes has become a pre-requisite for modern businesses. Moreover, I think any provider in this industry could school their counterparts from other unrelated industry when it comes to managing change.

Think about it: A standard small business owner has probably had to do with maybe a few key changes in the last, say, 30 years: the Internet, e-commerce, competition from online giants such as Amazon, mobile customers, and social media. But, really, everybody has had to deal with those changes; they’re broad cultural shifts.

Compare that to HME providers. In addition to dealing those trends, they’ve had to handle massive changes that have significantly altered their revenues and how they do business: competitive bidding; CMS’s various audit programs; the 36-month rental cap on oxygen; the removal of the first-month purchase option for mobility; Baby Boom revenues not exactly booming as expected — the list goes on and on and on.

From my position as an editor covering this industry, the volume of change I’ve witnessed has forced me to shake my head so much I should wear a neck brace. My jaw has hit the floor so frequently my chin has callouses.

Throughout it all, the HME industry has proven how deft it can be in managing change. You’re still here. You’re still managing your business. You’re still working not just to survive, but grow. You’ve proven you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing change.

But Wait, There’s More!

So, bearing all that in mind, it probably shouldn’t surprise you to learn that there’s more change in store for HME providers. (You didn’t think you were going to catch a break, did you?)

So, what’s the next big change? As you’ll read in this issue’s annual roundtable from members of our Editorial Advisory Board (which starts on page 28), providers need to start ramping up their ability to manage multiple payer relations. Instead of dealing with Medicare and retail, providers need to step up their new business development. They need to get out and drive new relationships with private payers, health plans, managed care organizations, skilled nursing facilities and other disparate revenue sources to ensure they have a healthy, diversified mix of revenue sources.

Fortunately, there’s a whole hive-mind of smart people who are thinking about how providers can diversify their revenues and work with a broad range of payers. For instance, HME Business just hosted “Managing the Managed Care Opportunity,” a webinar from Jeff Baird, Esq., chairman of the Health Care Group at industry law firm Brown & Fortunato, P.C., which is available as an archive at hme-business.com/webinars. Jeff (who sits on our board) also spoke a bit on the topic on the HME Business Podcast, which you can find on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play.

Also, the American Association for Homecare has launched a Payer Relations Council that is focused on non-Medicare payer relations, such as Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care Organizations and commercial plans.

Continuing the monumental work done by Laura Williard, vice president of Payer Relations at AAHomecare, this high-level committee will identify current and future payer relations issues impacting providers across the country, educate providers about those issues, and help them address those issues. In fact, the council already had its first meeting in late August.

Does this new shift to diversified payer relations represent a new learning curve? Absolutely. Is it one that providers, who have weathered more than a decade of tumultuous change, can adapt to? You betcha.

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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