Providers tighten their belts

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Friday, January 3, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – With margins so thin, it’s no surprise that a majority of respondents (20%) to a recent HME Newspoll say their top priority for 2020 is reducing expenses.

While Medicare rates are relatively stable—albeit historically low—many Medicaid programs and managed care plans implemented reimbursement cuts in 2019, with more anticipated in 2020.

“With continued declines in revenues, cost savings will be the safest strategy for us,” wrote one respondent.

Getting their debt under control and gaining efficiencies through technology are two top strategies for belt-tightening in 2020, respondents say.

But the new year also provides opportunity for growth, say respondents, including through expanding their footprints (18%) and increasing their use of marketing and social media (13%).

“Since competitive bidding took a hiatus, we have seen our business expand in all areas,” wrote Rebecca Weyand, vice president, Century Orthotics & Medical Equipment. “Going forward, I believe it is important to capitalize on the new referral sources. One of the easiest ways to do that is through social media.”

Echoed another respondent: “We have never had a sales force and we are adding a few new marketing reps.”

Another opportunity for growth: new payers (10%). But respondents say they’re being selective.

“We’ve been doing great at picking up new business but not so great at making money,” wrote Lori Sears, owner, Active Home Medical. “This year, the No. 1 goal is to reverse that trend and that will likely mean targeting products and payers that have better margins. It will also mean giving up some patients, products or payers that are costing more money than we can afford to give up.”