Tuesday, April 25, 2017
With 20 years in the DME rental business I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the country's best DME providers. From Fall River, MA to Ontario, CA I have met some of the most dedicated professionals in the country. The common theme across these wildly successful organizations is a partnership mindset. Each company carefully crafted a corporate culture of dedication and compassion for their employees. We’ve made it a mission to emulate this paradigm within our own organization. Our model has three pillars. First, we look at ourselves as an extension of our customer’s brands. Second, we always carry a win/win mentality. Finally, we enter every client partnership with the expectation of a long-term relationship.
Our first pillar, the extension of brands, is a core part of our mindset. We understand that every interaction we have with a patient is a direct reflection of the hospice/SNF providing care. If we perform well it reflects the professional care that our clients provide to their patients. We thrive on the compliments of case managers, nurses, and facility staff. Adversely, when the DME provider has a poor interaction with the patient and/or the patient’s family, the client hospice/SNF receives the complaint, and it’s usually directed at the agency and not the DME provider. Your vendors should work hard to make sure that your agency/facility receives rave reviews. Unfortunately, anyone who has been in this industry long has heard the horror stories of vendors that ignored the needs of a patient, dropped off equipment without so much as an explanation of how it works, or worst of all had a hostile attitude. If your DME partner doesn’t reflect your brand it may be time to have a frank conversation or maybe shop for a new partner.
No relationship survives long unless both parties brings a win/win mentality. This one is critical on both sides of the equation. As a vendor, we are often expected to go the extra mile, and we should. However, as a customer, the same expectation is not always reciprocated. We are blessed with outstanding partners that work with us for the best solution to a problem. Over the years though we’ve worked with some very demanding clients that weren’t interested in an amicable solution. It makes problem solving more difficult when any obstacles are met with “do it or we will switch providers.” A reed can only bend so far before it breaks. At ProCare we strive to exceed customer expectation. As a client, it’s important that you reciprocate. That type of collaboration means that your patients and their families get the best possible outcomes. Our philosophy is simple, focus on what we can do for our customers, and find solutions for the occasional requests that fall outside of our ability. Sometimes this means asking a competitor for help. That’s OK if the patient/client is taken care of.
I absolutely understand the pain associated with change. It’s the single largest obstacle I encounter when trying to close a new account. The exchange goes something like this:
Me: “Tell me about your current vendor.”
Prospect: “They aren’t able to get the equipment we need on time, they don’t answer their phone, their drivers are rude, the invoices are hard to read or incorrect… We would really like to find another vendor.”
Me: “Great, how would you like to start the conversion process?”
In the end, all their existing pain points don’t equal to the pain associated with switching vendors. I can’t blame them. Changing vendors is a daunting task. That’s why we always expect a long-term relationship. That means it’s on us to earn our clients’ business each day. This final pillar may seem like a redundancy, but it’s important that we treat this concept as a standalone. This concept keeps us from getting stagnant and taking our accounts for granted. We currently serve accounts that have been with us for over 19 years! In the ever-changing high demand field of healthcare, I think that’s a notable achievement.
A partnership mindset is critical to collaboration and patient care. It is important to remember that this is a reciprocal component. For your agency/facility to provide optimal patient care you must have a mutual partnership mindset with your vendors. Look for vendor partners that share your organization’s core values. Talk with your vendor partners and establish appropriate expectations. Do your vendors act like an extension of your brand? Do they look for opportunities to help you win, and are you willing to do the same for them? Is it obvious that your vendors want a long-term relationship? If not, it may be time to sit down with them. When you and your vendors are in line, your patients win.
Posted by procare at 4/25/2017 5:04:00 PM
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Last month we explained how transparency plays an important part in your DME partnership. This month we are going to cover a topic that is near and dear to me, cleanliness of equipment. The idea that a DME company provides clean equipment is so fundamentally basic that most professional care organizations take it for granted. Sadly, industry standards have slipped with reimbursement rates, and you may not be getting the services you think you are. In the 2014 HME Business article “Keeping Things Clean” author David Kopf cites durable medical equipment, specifically support surfaces, as a potential risk to patients for cross contamination. He details the need for the DME industry to pick-up cleaning standards. With ever diminishing reimbursements, and pressure to keep DME costs down, cleaning is one of the first corners cut.
DME plays a vital role in quality patient care. It is also a potential hotbed for cross contamination. The current industry standard for cleaning DME is a quick “spray and wipe” technique. All DME companies should at a minimum use a quaternary or phenolic disinfectant to kill germs. However, spraying the equipment and giving it a cursory wipe is a long way from truly disinfecting the equipment. At ProCare we take pride in our Patient Ready Certified (PRC) Program. We are so proud we branded it. All our rental equipment goes through a thorough cleaning that takes a substantial amount of time. We use toothbrushes and Q-Tips to clean those hard-to-reach places. Our air surfaces are disassembled and hand sanitized. The PRC standard is as close to factory new as we can possibly get it. This is probably our most inefficient process, but it’s critical for the safety of our customers.
This article is not intended to bash the industry or our competitors. There are a lot of good DME companies with strong cleaning procedures. Make sure that your DME partner falls into this category. Ask the driver how they process equipment. He or she is very likely to give you an accurate detail that the sales rep will not or cannot. If they clean the equipment in the van between pick-up and delivery for another patient… run. That is not cleaning for patient ready status. As bad as that sounds, it does happen. Sadly, many companies view this as an opportunity to cut expense from the process to stay competitively priced. Your patients are the unwitting potential recipients of this practice. Make sure that your expectations and your DME partner’s practices are aligned. If not, it may be time to shop.
Now the commercial… Despite the inefficiencies caused by a “deep clean” process, ProCare commits to maintaining the cleanest DME rental equipment in the industry. Our PRC Program is our promise that every piece of equipment we rent is disinfected, and as clean as humanly possible as the day we received it new. ProCare also offers equipment repair and maintenance programs for organizations that prefer to own DME instead of renting it. Our technicians deep clean and deodorize your equipment between patient uses to dramatically reduce the risk of cross contamination. We can also fix most of the stuff you have lying in a closet (or shed or back hallway). Support surfaces, concentrators, wheelchairs, and bed frames. Own it or rent it, we make sure it’s clean and working to provide the therapy your patients need. For more information about our PRC services please don’t hesitate to call us at 208-322-5055. If you have a minute check out our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ProCareInc and follow us to stay up to date on upcoming inservices and events.
Have a great spring!
President, ProCare Medical Equipment
Posted by procare at 3/15/2017 9:59:00 PM
Monday, December 12, 2016
Over the next few months I will be writing about the five things you should expect from your DME company. I have broken it down into segments because who has time to read a novel? Over the past 20 years I have had the opportunity to serve several segments of the professional care market (skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, hospices, etc.), and I believe that there are five critical components to a successful DME partnership: Service, transparency, cleanliness, a true partnership mindset, and experience. This month I will focus on service.
Service seems like a no-brainer right? However, I have found in my discussions with many professional care agencies that they are underserved and they don’t even know it. We (as humans) get used to our circumstances. Often the mediocrity that we hate becomes the standard we expect. The bottom line is you don’t have to settle with mediocre service! Your building/agency demands a certain level of service from your staff to maintain the quality experience required by your customers. A DME company should be an extension of these expectations. I believe there are three basic pillars of service that should be a minimum for any DME company: Timeliness, education, and professionalism. All DME companies should offer 24/7/365 service to accommodate late or weekend admits, afterhours tech support or emergencies, and should be able to accommodate reasonable time requests. Your DME partner needs to understand that your ability to perform timely admits often depends on their ability to provide timely service. Timely service is a key indicator of how your DME partner views your relationship.
We are the experts in DME. When you call we should be able to help your staff choose the right product for your patient and help them understand how to use it. If your DME partner is doing a quick drop off and not performing the education portion of the delivery, or you are constantly being upsold to a more expensive unit, you are being short-changed. It is our responsibility to set-up the equipment, educate the patient/caregiver, and give a return demonstration to ensure it will be used properly. This isn’t just a perk. It’s a requirement by our accreditation body. Isn’t this why you outsource your DME?
Finally, your DME partner is an extension of your brand. They should look and act the part. What do your patients and families say about the staff that delivers their equipment? A large component of our service is patient (and patient family) interaction. In fact, it may be the most important. We train our drivers to make a positive impact on those whose lives we touch. We may be the only human contact they have that day. We may also have an opportunity to bring someone in a bad situation a bit of levity. This is the compassionate side of what we do, and it’s exactly what you should expect from your DME partner.
Service seems like such a basic concept. Every vendor knocking on your door (begging for your business) will proclaim that theirs is the highest level of service available. There are some amazing DME companies out there that do provide excellent customer service. Are you contracting with them? If you’re not sure ask for the full list of their existing clients including branches and facilities, and call their customers. A great DME company will not worry about which customers you call because all will say the same thing…“They Rock!” I hope you all have a great December a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Look for more next month!
Posted by procare at 12/12/2016 7:28:00 PM