Let's destroy the walls of our comfort zone together

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Friday, November 30, 2018

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is quickly coming to an end. In this industry, we blink and another year is behind us. At VGM, we experienced many examples this year that truly illustrate productive change—forward movement in technology, providers dipping their toes in the waters of opportunity, and engagement at all levels to continue to come together to take care of America’s post-acute patients.

We launched a series of playbooks in 2018as a resource for both providers and manufacturers that highlighted and addressed issues, trends and opportunities facing the durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) industry. We entered the year with continued uncertainty due to consolidation, competitive bidding and the regulatory environment dominating the headlines. With this landscape, however, came new opportunities. These opportunities and more will carry over in 2019.

Projections by the Census Bureau estimate the number of adults ages 65 and over could increase to more than 71 million in 2030 and hit 88.5 million by 2050. The market for treatment of obesity, COPD, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, and other chronic conditions continues to expand. This uniquely positions our industry to help improve the quality of life for more patients than ever before. To quote the great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Let’s make 2019 the year we all strategically step out of our comfort zones to grow, capitalize on the bigger opportunity for DMEPOS and beyond, and see where the magic happens.

To be quite honest, I continue to challenge my team to step out of their comfort zones and think differently about how we bring maximum value to VGM members and partners. We are evolving to be in front of the challenges providers face day in and day out and develop the solutions needed for providers to stay relevant in the future. Below are some of our focus areas as we head into the New Year:

Competitive bidding

In recent years, there has been plenty of instability in the DMEPOS market due to many regulatory unknowns and “we’ll wait and see what happens” with reimbursement relief from the legislative and executive branch (CMS) of the government. VGM and industry stakeholders will continue to strategize and pursue much-needed reforms to protect suppliers and the patients they serve.

Payer relations

Providers will need to engage in more active dialogue with payers. It is important to know what their goals are and what’s important to them. Ultimately, providers can best prepare for these changes by doing the very thing many of them got in the business to do in the first place—be the support for patients.

Growth potential in the marketplace

We’ve identified the markets below as growing most rapidly and align best with DMEPOS providers, no matter their current business mix:

Home modification

Women’s health

Complex rehab

Retail/cash products

Respiratory

Wound care

Cannabis

The Technology ecosystem for DMEPOS

Providers know there is value in automation and gaining efficiencies, but how does everything fit together? We are working to illustrate the technology ecosystem for DMEPOS.

Customer loyalty

Understanding your customers and their lifetime value (LTV) will become paramount. One of the most effective ways to boost LTV is to increase customer satisfaction. Research has found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25-95%. Online review tools, as well as a closed-loop feedback process to address issues and personnel training, are areas to invest.

Be on the lookout for the launch of “Industry Snapshots: Forecasting 2019” in late January. Industry experts will again weigh in and get deep with the top post-acute health care initiatives providers and manufacturers should focus their time and resources on to realize the most impactful results. If you felt uncomfortable in 2018, be prepared to take that to a whole new level in 2019. Let’s destroy the walls of our comfort zone together (not only in business, but in life) and see the difference for patients, profits—and ourselves.

Clint Geffert is president of VGM & Associates.

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