In a move that reflects providers’ frustrations with the current HME market conditions, Invacare Corp. has introduced “Impossible Stops Here,” as its new marketing campaign for the current reimbursement environment in the United States. On a global level, The “Yes, You Can” tagline continues to be Invacare’s central theme.
“After visits with customers, we felt we had to develop a theme or campaign that takes action helping providers and beneficiaries, and helps the industry when it’s down,” says Lou Slangen, senior vice president of global market development for Invacare Corp.
Although acknowledging the dire circumstances of the HME environment with competitive bidding and reimbursement cuts, Slangen indicated that the market is not impossible for providers because the underlying demand for products is not going away, in fact, it is increasing. “Invacare can help providers through this time and help them thrive,” Slangen says.
Providers who face the current market conditions and adapt their business plans accordingly are more likely to survive.
Invacare’s president and CEO, Mal Mixon, indicated that providers need to be more involved at every level, from tightening up business procedures and efficiencies to making their voices heard in Washington, D.C.
“Competitive bidding is the worst thing to happen to our industry,” Mixon says.
Mixon and Slangen mentioned other steps providers can take to ensure that their businesses are on secure ground including: collecting copay from beneficiaries, increasing their involvement in state associations and advocacy efforts, more closely tracking their supply chain and delivery costs, becoming accredited, preparing for competitive bidding and evaluating business efficiencies, such as the number of personnel on the payroll.
Invacare is helping its independent providers through its partnership with VGM, its voice in Washington with Cara Bachenheimer heading up Invacare’s lobbying efforts, and having The AfterMarket Group (TAG) operate Invacare’s Services.
“We want to take TAG and all of this other stuff that Invacare does for providers to get it under one umbrella,” says Phil Cunningham, product manager for TAG.
Invacare’s Express program is designed to help Invacare’s providers with immediate product and parts availability and delivery.
Invacare’s 5-Star Service Plan, which has been in existence for one year now, helps providers by servicing and repairing scooters and consumer power products. The five part plan includes nationwide coverage, genuine Invacare parts, prompt on-site service, a convenient loaner program and comprehensive in-warranty service. Under the plan, Invacare is making it easier for providers to get Invacare parts as well as parts of competitors such as tires, casters, bearings and electronic repairs. “Providers can see the benefits of it and the cost reductions it results in,” Cunningham says.
Invacare will begin a home delivery program Oct. 1 for standard products and bath safety items for its providers. It also has planned home delivery for consumer power chairs for the beginning of 2008.
Down the road Invacare is looking into technical support and training for its providers and end users. “Anything we can do to save providers money,” Cunningham says.
“It is not just about products anymore, it is about how we as manufacturers and providers manage our business together,” Cunningham says.