Want to succeed? Embrace failure

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Monday, March 27, 2017

LAS VEGAS – When Erik Mickelson launched the HME division of his family’s pharmacy business, it took nine months for him to make his first HME sale.

“I worked my tail off,” the CEO of Howard’s Medical Supply told Medtrade attendees during the session, “Success Stories in HME: How Providers have grown in the Face of a Declining Industry.” “No one told me how to do it. We almost ran into the ground twice.”

But in the last three or four years, the company has grown 300%, thanks in no small part to a willingness to make the tough decision to outsource billing, he says.

“I am very against outsourcing,” said Mickelson. “I’m a believer in everything local, but outsourcing allows us to scale.”

Outsourcing certain jobs plays a role in Home Care Delivered’s success too, says Chairman Gordy Fox. He’d prefer to focus on creating good-paying jobs for his employees and outsource lower-paying roles.

“There are minimum wage discussions in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “Our folks should make more than that. If there’s a $10-an-hour role, we want to get rid of that.”

Stay on top of billing

Like most HME providers these days, getting paid is a challenge, for both Fox and Mickelson.

When you’re frustrated, it’s important to remember that payer reps are people, too, says Fox.

“Take the emotions out of it and stick to just the facts,” he said. “When we sit with payers, we just do our homework, and say, ‘Here is what we are trying to solve.’”

Even when the payer relationship seems solid, don’t take anything for granted, says Mickelson.

“Know what you are being paid,” he said. “Every month, take a look at it.”

Celebrate failure

Howard’s Medical Supply has created a culture where it’s OK to make mistakes, says Mickelson.

“My team doesn’t worry about being reprimanded,” he said. “We coach them and write it off as the cost of education.”

Fox concurs.

“When people stop telling you (about mistakes), that hurts you,” he said. “Celebrating failure is part of the DNA of our organization.”