Provider Strategy

Home Medical Equipment: We’re Still a People Business

Putting your employees at the center of your business helps connect with a growing HME market. Here are five ways to achieve that.

Our industry is made of scrappy and hardworking people. And despite all the outside forces — from a public health emergency to supply chain issues and a major recall — most individual companies, as well as our industry as a whole, continue to grow. There were 49 million older adults (65 plus) in 2016, and it is projected there will be 77 million in 2034 and nearly 95 million in 2060, according to “The Greying of America,” a report from Jonathan Vespa, a demographer in the U.S Census Bureau’s Population Division. So, needless to say, we have growth on our side. But growth potential is meaningless without the people to deliver our services.

At Medical Service Company, we made a shift during the beginning of the pandemic to define our primary “customers” as our own employees. It was not a planned shift, more instinctual — we wanted our people to feel protected, cared for, and supported during a very unsettling time. Today, we still operate MSC with our employees at the center of what we do. Through that support, we have confidence that they will deliver the superior care we expect for our other customers (referral sources, patients, caregivers, suppliers, and payers).

In a world where the labor market is competitive and growth potential persists, competent and caring people make the difference. Putting our employees at the center gives our organization the best chance to attract and retain our people. There are countless books, articles, and leaders with proven formulas on how to most effectively put your people at the center. Here are just a few of the strategies that have helped us:a

Be Open and Honest With Your Team

Employees like to understand the “why.” The why can be personified through a mission statement, core values, a tagline, or just some unwritten phrase that is commonly spoken. When communicated properly and easily understood, the why can help an employee make decisions within appropriate corporate guardrails. This also allows for more autonomy — which many employees find to be a very fulfilling attribute of their job, as well.

Make Your Company a Meritocracy

Some high-performing individuals are internally motivated, and others seek competition and public recognition. Consider creating an environment where employees are measured objectively through key performance indicators (KPI) and compared to their peers. Then recognize the employees that are leading the way in performance and effort. Performance is critical, but don’t undervalue effort — failure is another way to learn and grow.

Eliminate the “Busy Work”

We’ve all heard the phrase — “there’s an app for that.” In our personal lives, we all have had situations where we’ve observed our parents or an older adult upload photos to an external hard drive when all they needed to do was save them to the cloud. Or when they print out a 14-page document to sign it when they could have just e-signed it. In every department and individual process, there are wasteful keystrokes, boxes to check, and drop-downs to select to complete a task. How many of these could be automated or even eliminated if a process was mapped-out and reimagined?

Consider identifying an optimization leader within your organization. By observing critical business processes that happen multiple times per day, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll uncover busy work and optimization opportunities. By eliminating non-value add busy-work, your team can focus more on what matters, allowing them to feel more valued and valuable.

Celebrate the Milestones

Ever ask someone their birthday or anniversary and notice how pridefully they share it? People love sharing milestones and take great satisfaction in being recognized for them. A few easy milestones to recognize for every one of your employees are their very first day, their work anniversary, and their birthday. Whether you recognize it through intercompany email, posting on SharePoint, or a handwritten card — most employees will be sure to remember it. And they may tell their friends, which helps your brand image and maybe even recruiting.

Give Your Employees a Voice

We all remember the old suggestion box — well, it’s having a comeback! Imagine the suggestion box in the “new world.” Think SharePoint, electronic surveys, or even email. Being open and honest with your team is one direction of necessary communication but having that openness and honesty bi-directional is really the sweet spot. There are countless ways to solicit your employees’ feedback, but the key is doing it often.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably pretty committed to your employees and likely have many of these practices installed in your work already. If not, the good news is most of these practices cost very little to implement. Even better, they can be applied at any level within your organization (company-wide, division, department, individual), and you don’t need to be the CEO or the owner of your company to impact your employees in a big way. 

This article originally appeared in the Jul/Aug 2022 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Josh Marx is CEO of Medical Service Company (MSC). Founded in 1950, MSC is a family-owned and operated company with more than 40 locations and 425 employees. MSC works with health systems, payers, and patients across the United States to deliver its best-in-class discharge planning and chronic care management services.

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