Power of positive

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BALTIMORE - Provider Ken Suter has seen his reimbursement drop 50% over the past 10 years, but he prefers to look forward, not back.

"I move forward by planning everything as though I am going to be in business 10 years from now," said Suter, president of Family Respiratory and Medical Supplies. "But it has to be a plan that's changeable because of the (business) climate we are in."

It's an attitude that has served him well. This year, he will celebrate 20 years in business.

"We are your basic DME provider that prides itself on excellent service and quality equipment," said Suter. "If you are out there and you are doing a good job, the word gets out."

Family Respiratory also has a strong presence in Delaware. In June, it combined its two Delaware locations into one central location in Felton. The $2 million site features a 10,000-square-foot main building and a 2,700-square-foot oxygen filling station.

"We have internalized (tank filling) and saved a great deal of money," said Suter. "We have better control over the product, and we are not relying on outside services."

Another area the provider invests in: technology. Family Respiratory began moving toward a paperless system a couple of years ago and plans to reduce its paperwork load further to about 1% of what it is now by scanning and bar coding equipment in the field.

"I plan on technology improvements in advance and budget for them," said Suter. "We implement it when the timing is right."

All that has allowed the company to control costs and stay profitable, despite reimbursement cuts and the threat of competitive bidding.

"In this business, if you can't change with the requirements then you shouldn't be in the business," Suter said.