HME Excellence Awards

Thursday, March 25, 2010

HME Excellence Awards judges scrutinize every detail when determining which nominees get to step up onto the podium and often it's the little things that make the difference. In the case of Salt Lake City, Utah-based Alpine Home Medical, it was their dedication to collecting feedback from patients and referral sources that earned them second runner-up position in the HME category.

"It may seem small and simple, but the way they ask for opinions really appealed to me," one judge said. "They are showing an element of creativity that sets them apart from the norm."

Alpine President Jay Broadbent acknowledges that he considers input from patients and referral sources to be extremely important and worth going the extra mile to get.

"You can't get better if you don't know what you've done wrong," he said.

Not that Broadbent has done much wrong in 13 years--growing to $9 million in 2008 with 80 employees and five locations across the state. Although Alpine won in the HME category, the company serves all the major markets, including respiratory, sleep and high-end rehab.

The key to Alpine's growth, Broadbent said, is "hiring well--we identify and hire people who are genuinely concerned about our clients and the people we serve."

Although Broadbent admits the weak economy hindered finances last year, "it's a tribute to the employees that we didn't have to lay off anyone. We trimmed off the edges and became a leaner, more efficient ship."

While finances are important, "it's not always about the money," Broadbent said. First and foremost, he said, it's about taking good care of patients and exceeding their expectations.

"Take exceptional care of people and they'll always come back to you," he said. "That may be a bit Pollyanna-ish, but it's true."

Inviting input

Canvassing clients and referral sources yields valuable information that can be used to improve all aspects of a company's operation, but getting that feedback can sometimes be a chore, Broadbent admits. It's worth the effort though, because having people come in for a face-to-face session yields much deeper detail than a 10-question yes-or-no survey, he said.

"You can read body language--something that's not possible with a survey card,"  Broadbent said

A typical focus group might only include five or six patients, but they often bring their spouses and family members, so it can easily become 10 to 15 people, he said.

"We've learned a ton doing it this way," he said. "If someone doesn't have a good experience, we follow up immediately and redeem ourselves."

Riding for a reason

Community involvement is a priority for Broadbent. One of his pet projects is the B in Motion Foundation's 80-mile charity bike ride for rehab clients who don't qualify for funding. Now in its third year, the event featured 90 riders in 2009 and raised $8,500. The ride has grown every year and this year Broadbent expects more than 300 participants.

"My wife and I have been very blessed and we are proud to give back to the community," he said. "The bike ride provides equipment to those 'tweener' patients who fall between the gaps for funding. Without the proceeds from the ride, they most likely won't get the help they need." hme

Company: Alpine home Medical

Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah

Category: Second runner-up, HME

Employees: 80

Revenues: $9 million

Professional affiliations: Utah Medical Equipment Dealers, The VGM Group, The MED Group, AAHomecare

Community outreach: B in Motion Foundation