Rehab providers orchestrate mini-Medtrades to boost biz

Friday, May 31, 2002

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Whether they're geared toward referral sources, employees or end-users, rehab providers all over are orchestrating expos as a way to boost their businesses.

In any of its 50 offices, the folks at National Seating & Mobility (NSM), based here, are gearing up for their 8th Annual Seating Symposium, which will be held at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport. In Charlotte, N.C., the work of the folks at Chair & Equipment Rental and Sales is already done. They had their Rehab Expo, which is held every other year, in April, and now they're sitting back, reaping its benefits.

Although there are other, much larger, expos that highlight HME (think Medtrade), it appears rehab's the only segment of HME that dedicates itself so fiercely to orchestrating its own expos. Organizers of such expos say the intricacies of rehab demand that providers do so.

Employees of NSM, for instance, show up at the company's symposium each year to hear industry experts speak on what's hot in seating and mobility and to earn RESNA certifications and continuing education units (CEUs). Since many of the NSM's employees "were in the room when the baby was born," they have a lot to learn from each other, too, said Mike Ballard, president of NSM.

"Rehab is not a product, it's a process, and the largest component of that process is determining the kind of equipment a person needs and the various components that have to interface with that equipment," he said. "The more you know, the better you can take care of a client's needs. It behooves anyone in the industry to do these kinds of things."

Manufacturers like Invacare, Sunrise Medical and Pride Mobility also show up at the symposium, so employees can check out the latest in rehab equipment.

According to Simon Margolis, v.p. of professional and clinical development for NSM, topics at this year's symposium will include providing power mobility for young children (24 months), delivery (What happens when equipment leaves the clinic?) and intuitive seating (How can technicians look at a client and see what he needs?).

Where NSM's symposium is more clinically driven, the expo orchestrated by Chair & Equipment Rental and Sales is referral driven.

Vice President Darrell Hansen said this year's expo attracted 150 referral sources. He said they spent the day touring the company's 27,000-square-foot facility, including a 6,000 square-foot showroom, and checking out equipment from the dozen or so manufacturers who had booths at the one-day event.

"By doing this, we're earning a reputation as being up front and educating the community," he said. "Once they walk through the door, we've won." HME