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On the Move

by: Tracy Orzel - Monday, November 16, 2015

In our December HME NewsPoll, we asked readers if they look outside the industry for business ideas. I’m not going to spill the results (yet), but one of my favorite topics to write about is marketing tips and techniques, mainly because they can be applied to multiple business models, in and outside of the HME industry. Of course, there are always some necessary tweaks—but the rules generally remain the same.

I recently spoke to Justin Racine, marketing and e-commerce manager at Geriatric Medical, for a story on direct mail marketing (you can read it in our December issue). I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again, because of space restrictions, I can’t always include all the bits I’d like, so here are some extra tips and hints from my conversation with Racine.

When and when not to use mailers:

“It depends on the situation, but if you have a website and you’re trying to sell online and do E-commerce, I wouldn’t do direct mail. However, if you’re a provider and you have a physical location and you’re looking to drive more people into the store, you can get pretty granular (with demographic information) when working with a direct marketing company.”

Why mailers work:

“A customer is going to see it at least one time—maybe they throw it out, maybe they don’t. If they don’t throw it out, maybe they leave it on the coffee table. They might walk by it five days and before they take an action. But, if you look at the number of times someone views that direct mail piece—if it's on their coffee table—they might see it five times, so the visibility rate could potentially be pretty high.” 

by: Tracy Orzel - Thursday, November 5, 2015

Quantum Rehab has named Mya to the newly-created position of CBO (Chief Bulldog Officer), the company announced* during Medtrade last week.

“Mya is a perfect fit to lead this company forward,” said Pride Mobility Products CEO Scott Meuser.** "Her extensive experience in chew toys and high-end complex rehabilitation solutions will provide a great service to our customers."

Mya has attended over 15 industry trade shows and brings with her nearly four years of experience in digital media marketing as well as fetching. She holds a PhD in quantum mechanics from UC Berkeley.

In addition to her interest in retail, Mya is an avid snuggler and tug-of-war specialist.

Mya combines her extensive experience in sitting, barking and licking with her recent experience in a number of other areas, specifically public relations, legislative tracking, and as a board member of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. Her favorite color is brown.***

Mya with her executive assistant, Bryan

*Quantum Rehab never said this

**Scott Meuser never said this

***None of this is true

by: Tracy Orzel - Monday, October 26, 2015

As I write this blog from the confines of the Show Daily office, I’m drinking my second latte (last year I survived on diet coke, but ever since June, my articles have been fueled by anxiety and Starbucks). Having flown in to Atlanta last night, I should be more well rested than I am. Maybe it was the excitement, maybe it was the Forensic Files marathon I indulged in until 1:30 this morning. Whatever it was, my exhaustion was apparent immediately.

This morning I met up with Managing Editor Theresa for breakfast. Since we’re staying in the same hotel, we were comparing the views from our rooms. Being on one of the upper floors, Theresa has a lovely view of the Atlanta skyline/CNN roof. Even though I’m on one of the lower floors, I had a pretty impressive view, too.

That’s when I told Theresa my favorite feature was the giant wheelchair. If she gave me a funny look I didn’t notice. Then she said, “Think about what you just said.”

I did and I didn’t come up with anything I didn’t mean to say.

“You called it a wheelchair.”

From where I was sitting in the restaurant I could see the giant wheelchair. At this point I knew it wasn’t a wheelchair, but I still couldn’t remember what the word for “it” actually was.

I racked my brain and the only word that came to mind was WHEELCHAIR! WHEELCHAIR! WHEELCHAIR! GIANT. LIGHTUP. WHEELCHAIR.

Theresa put me out of my misery.

“It’s a Ferris wheel,” she said. 

My friends know I’m in Atlanta for work this week and a handful of them suggested I take in some of the sights while I’m down here. There wasn’t anything I was particularly dying to see or do, but maybe I’ll make it a point to go for a spin on the giant wheelchair before I go.

by: Tracy Orzel - Friday, October 16, 2015

I’m 95% certain that neither my friends nor family know what I actually do at HME News. They know I’m an editor, so that’s something, but when I try to discuss the ins and outs of the HME industry, they look like they’re listening, but in my heart I know they’re going to ask me the same question again in three months: What do you do again? Suffice it to say, I don’t talk shop at home.

That’s why I was uncharacteristically excited when my brother-in-law, a dermatologist, casually mentioned making the switch to ICD-10 during dinner two weeks ago.

Since I speak to HME providers and stakeholders almost exclusively, I was eager to hear what the “other side” thought about the Oct. 1 implementation.

The conversation centered on the expansion from 13,000 codes to 68,000. While the idea is to capture more information, it’s a little excessive. For example, what used to be one code for psoriasis, is now seven codes.

Going into the conversation, I was already pretty familiar with the nuts and bolts of ICD-10, but what I didn’t know is that hidden within the extra 55,000 codes are some truly absurd diagnoses. My brother-in-law rattled a few off to us and we were beside ourselves. I never thought my family, of all families, would be making jokes about ICD-10 over pulled pork. 

I dug around this morning and here are some of the gems we laughed about that night, along with a few extras:

 

W5621XS Bitten by orca, sequel

V9126XD Fall due to collision between (nonpowered) inflatable craft and other watercraft or other object, subsequent encounter

W5813XA Crushed by crocodile, initial encounter

Y92146 Swimming-pool of prison as the place of occurrence of the external cause

W5929XD Other contact with turtle, subsequent encounter

V9107XA Burn due to water-skis on fire, initial encounter

W6132XA Struck by chicken, initial encounter

X060XXA Exposure to ignition of plastic jewelry, initial encounter

X52XXXA Prolonged stay in weightless environment, initial encounter

Y35001A Legal intervention involving unspecified firearm discharge, law enforcement official injured, initial encounter

X014XXA Hit by object due to uncontrolled fire, not in building or structure, initial encounter

 

Not to be outdone, I’ve come up with my own codes for the inevitable ICD-11 edition: 

 

1. 12Y415PP Occupational exposure to hats

2. 41Z214LP Extraterrestrial spacecraft or planet as the place of occurrence of the external cause

3. 88V009FR Vampire bite (nonvenomous) of right eyelid and periocular area, initial encounter

4. 72G232HJ Cruciatus Curse, cast by Voldemort, initial encounter

5. 68D183AA Burns sustained from fires of Mount Doom, initial encounter

6. 04W978RE Clawed by sphinx, outside city gates, subsequent encounter

7. 43N310NQ Stabbed by rooster, initial encounter

8. 93U409PK Contact with and (suspected) exposure to Medusa

9. 72I662UY Immunization not carried out because of aversion to pineapple

10. 01C153EE Genetic susceptibility to cooties

11. 85A634OG Hit or struck by amateur boxer, initial encounter

12. 21F587JV Unspecified effects from curse of the pharaohs, sequela

13. 01X334NJ Shock due to being struck by Helen Mirren, subsequent encounter

14. 19T118JS Activity, snake charming

15. 07J086PE Explosion due to welding in hyperbaric chamber, initial encounter

 

by: HME News Staff - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Earlier this month I spoke to Julie Piriano, director of rehab industry affairs for Pride Mobility Products, for an upcoming story in the October issue about ATPs, job security and consolidation. Unfortunately, due to word limits and space restrictions, Liz, Theresa and I can’t always include everything we’d like to in a story. To that end, here’s what else Julie had to say:

On specialization:

“When the SMS designation became available, there were early adopters, but we’re seeing a steady flow of individuals taking that exam to better show the public-at-large that they have the specialized skillset for seating and wheeled mobility, not just the broad scope of assistive technology, which I think is a positive move.”

On demonstrating positive outcomes:

“One trend that we're seeing is that ATPs are beginning to work with tools to show the positive outcomes that come from working with certified individuals and making the daily difference. There’s a Functional Mobility Assessment tool that’s been around for quite sometime, which demonstrates quantitatively the positive impact associated with provision of the (right) equipment.”

For more on where ATPs stand, make sure you check out "ATPs thrive amid consolidations" in the October issue of HME News!

by: Tracy Orzel - Monday, August 17, 2015

I know very little about mobile apps and even less about APIs and data diagrams, but as I scoured Google for the latest in mobility happenings this morning, I came across an open forum about interactive mapping for people with disabilities. If programmed, these maps would shows the locations of VA hospitals, community centers, health care providers, wheelchair accessible stores, parks, restaurants and bus routes. To ensure the information is up-to-date, users would then be able to input information, like where sidewalks exist or end and whether a bathroom is ADA accessible.

The key words I took away from that were “if” and “would.”

Sensing an opportunity to break into the mobile app development market and earn a little extra cash on the side, I did some research and as it turns out, those maps already exist. There’s AXS Map, Wheelmap, Wheely, WheelMate and It’s Accessible, just to name a few. Each app allows users to find, rate and share accessible public spaces to some degree, but the one thing that struck me was how underutilized they were. 

Looking to cast a wide net, I did a quick search of accessible businesses in Brooklyn, N.Y. using the AXS Map app. Out of the 20 restaurants and businesses shown, only one had a review. I tested out several other major U.S. cities and got similar results.

Thanks to the ADA, businesses are required to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. However, as I looked the number of gray dots (businesses that hadn’t yet been rated), I realized it’s up to everyone to hold businesses—and people—accountable.

Granted, the results shown depend on the number people using the app, but if we don’t know something is broken, we can’t hope to fix it.  

by: Tracy Orzel - Friday, July 24, 2015

It’s no great secret that the HME industry isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

Whereas dolphin trainers and bourbon master tasters need not concern themselves with reimbursement cuts, a massive appeals backlog at the Administration Law Judge level, audits and competitive bidding, providers do. Which is why I cherish those rare moments of levity—like this one.

I often ask providers and other industry figures to send me a headshot to go with a story I’ve written.

Awhile back I asked Mr. James Leedom, owner of Lomita, Calif.-based Home Health Depot, for a picture to pair with an article about the difficulties of becoming a provider in today’s healthcare climate. He sent the photo I requested along with a backup:

*used with express written purrrrmission from J. Leedom

It made my day. Would all providers send me headshots of themselves in catface, I would be a very happy editor.

Jim Leedom will be a panelist at the HME News Business Summit Sept. 13-15 at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. Make sure to stop by and say “Hi” to him. To register for the summit, click here.  

 

 

by: Tracy Orzel - Monday, July 13, 2015

At the end of the day last Friday, a small group of United Publication employees gathered in Managing Editor Theresa Flaherty’s office to behold KFC’s new offering in the Philippines: the KFChizza.

It’s a pizza—with fried chicken crust instead of dough.

My arteries clogged just looking at it.

The nicest thing anyone could say about the new mash-up came from our sales rep, Jo-Ellen Reed: “At least the veggies look fresh?”

To be fair, they did. But I doubt the vegetables featured in a $350,000 commercial reflect the same quality in a $2.77 chicken pizza.

While this delicacy is only available in the Philippines, it made me think about America’s fast food obsession. Thanks to changing consumer habits, health conscious chains like Panera and Chipotle are taking a bite out of McDonald’s market share. However, with more than two-thirds of U.S. adults considered overweight, its clear that Americans consistently make poor dietary decisions.

According to an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 75% of men and 67% of women ages 25 and older are now overweight or obese. That number has risen from 20 years ago, when 63% of men and 55% of women were considered overweight or obese.

Which got me thinking…

Obesity is bad. It leads to cluster of health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke and depression. But—and bear with me as I attempt to walk a fine, fine line—there are a host of companies that exist because of these diseases and conditions, which make a profit, while working to help improve the lives of those afflicted with said conditions.

So as I watch Philippino Justin Bieber presumably sing the praises of the KFChizza, I wonder if KFC’s customer of today will become the HME patient of tomorrow. 

by: Tracy Orzel - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

In keeping with the recent health kick that seems to have infiltrated the HME office, I’ve decided to give up diet soda after saturating my bloodstream with aspartame for more than five years.

I started drinking diet coke in 2010, to cope with my former addiction: Wawa Iced Tea. Conservatively speaking, Wawa Iced Tea contains approximately 455,975,310 grams of sugar per oz., so naturally I was drawn to the false sense of security that Diet Coke offered.

My “Cokeain” addiction kicked into high gear with advent of McDonald’s 2012 $1 drink promotion. I'd buy one before work and christened the occasion “Soday,” And Soday was every day

Over the years, I’ve made sweeping declarations about kicking the habit. There’s a plethora of articles and videos on YouTube denouncing the carbonated beverage and its zero calorie count.

Since artificial sweeteners like aspartame are 200 times sweeter than real sugar, diet soda actually dulls our sense of taste. The fake stuff can also trick the body into releasing insulin, which sends it into fat storage mode. It may or may not also cause cancer.

It really is a no brainer—anything that can strip corrosion off a car battery can’t be good for one’s health—or teeth.

What really sent me over the edge was Cumberland Farm’s Chug Jug. As Liz already mentioned, I usually drink a Diet Coke first thing in the morning. But with the Chug Jug, I could get endless refills for a mere $0.49 a pop.

I did this for about a week and a half. Then I thought about it. I had drank 64 oz. everyday for 5 days straight. That’s 320 oz. of diet soda. Gross.

That was the moment I dumped out the rest my soda in the sink and resolved to use my Chug Jug for good (water).

I haven’t had Diet Coke in a week. But I CRAVE it. There aren’t any support groups for diet soda drinkers—I know, because I’ve looked.

National Sleep Therapy sponsors a free monthly virtual support group for CPAP users called, “CPAP Talk – Live!” Maybe they have room for a diet soda addict? 

by: Tracy Orzel - Friday, May 29, 2015

Before I wandered into HME News’ world headquarters nearly eight months ago, Medicare was an abstract concept that existed somewhere in the ether. I knew it was a federal health insurance program, but not much more than that. Same for CPAP devices, complex rehab and basically everything related to DME. I’d seen them before yes, but I didn’t know the language or how difficult it could be to get them paid for.

For example, a few years ago my friend Ryan was prescribed a CPAP mask. When he showed our friends and I his equipment during a house warming party, this is what we walked away with: he wears a Darth Vader mask so that he doesn’t snore (he was a renowned snorer). The word “CPAP” didn’t even exist to us.

This past November I visited him again (at this point he had bought a newer, bigger house). I’d been working at HME News for a month and now understood what a CPAP machine was and why he used it.

Using my newly acquired lexicon, I asked him if he still used a CPAP. I still remember the faint look of surprise on his face when I identified it by its proper name and not his “darth vader” mask.

I’m not celebrating my former ignorance, but I am acknowledging it.

A few months ago, Theresa wrote a blog about CPAP masks being featured on shows like Mike and Molly, proof that they were becoming more mainstream. Last night I had my own “mainstream” moment while futzing around on Facebook before going to sleep: a friend of mine posted a link to a hoseless, cordless, maskless, battery-powered CPAP device. As far as I know, she nor her husband use one. Could a family member or someone she knows? Possibly. But I'd like to think we're all just becoming a little more aware.

 

 

 

 

 

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