Cardinal helps pharmacies keep mobility business

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Cardinal Home Healthcare has launched a mobility fulfillment program, Rehab Plus+, that will enable its 3,600 independent pharmacy customers to provide scooters, lift chairs, wheelchairs and other DME.

The distribution program, managed by Product Pros, is an extension of Cardinal's Home Health Care Place program. About 25% of Cardinal's pharmacy customers provide some home health equipment.

Rehab Plus+ lets pharmacists, who would otherwise send referrals away, keep the business and the profit margins in-house. Lisa Stein, CEO of Products Pros, said the margins -  about 20-50% -  on HME products are better than pharmaceuticals.

Although pharmacists are not trained rehab professionals, she said Product Pros fulfillment expertise lets them move product they would otherwise not think of handling.

"We're not talking sip-and-puff, or tilt-and-recline," said Stein, a former division manager at Cardinal, "but something beyond a Breezy or a Tracer: some specialty seating, a specialty back, a little more adjustability than you can get out of the box."

One pharmacist, Steve Crawford of Health Center Pharmacy in Elkin, W.Va., did more than basic configuration when he provided a chair to an 18 year-old paraplegic in his rural community. Crawford said configuring chairs is not beyond a pharmacist.

"They [Product Pros] fax you a list of questions," he said. "Basically it's an order sheet. If I don't understand a question, they'll walk me through it. You don't have to be an expert in it."

Stein said Rehab Plus+ significantly expands the typical Cardinal's pharmacist's range of rehab possibilities.

"Cardinal may have a relationship with Invacare and Sunrise to provide boxed [wheelchair] configurations, but we represent 40 different manufacturers," she said. "They might have a relationship with Pride, but we carry three lift chair lines." HME