Educating Consumers/Referral Sources Equals Growth and Respect for DMEs

Posted on in Service Solutions

By Mary Avenanti, Off the Shelf Marketing “Don’t leave consumer/patient/referral source education up to someone else!” Educated consumers and referral sources are a significant asset, especially in the world of home medical and accessibility products. Consumer awareness is the quality that leads children of aging parents to the door of their locally owned HME rather than a national chain that shouts fantastical claims at them during their favorite television show. An HME provider that takes the time to educate her discharge planners about what is available for their patients gains the confidence of referral sources along with their respect and loyalty. Home medical equipment providers who make a concerted effort to educate patients, consumers and referral sources, instill confidence in their customer base, and gain the respect and loyalty of the community they serve. “Everyone is talking up the ‘aging in place’, but who is looking at educating consumers about the right questions to ask?” Sharon Webb, owner operator of Webb Medical Systems in Shillington, Pennsylvania, had a recent experience that brings to light the importance of building confidence and awareness in the consumer population. “We had an elderly woman come in asking for help with a stair lift she purchased after responding to a television ad from a national company,” Webb explains. “She needed the lift serviced and was told she had ten days to pay $1,900 for a four-year service agreement or be charged $350 per service call. We charge $85 for a service call on a lift we install. This poor woman had no idea what was available locally. The ‘free home evaluation’ on the TV commercial is what lured her in. We cannot afford to leave the education of our customers up to TV commercials that have virtually no solid content and often times misleading claims that cater to the most vulnerable in our society.” Webb Medical Systems has been using a suite of educational marketing materials (from VGM’s Off the Shelf Marketing Program) that includes guides to homecare products and accessibility, sleep disorders, complex rehab, home modification and more. “Our literature helps establish that we are brick and mortar, that we have been locally owned for a very long time and that we are a trusted name in our community. Many of our print marketing pieces are requested by satisfied customers who want to share information with their neighbors. Sometimes they take a booklet with them to their next doctor visit. The ‘Do You Snore?’ guide to sleep issues is one our customers seem to enjoy sharing,” says Webb. “The quality of our printed material, the up-to-date product images, warm people images and user-friendly information creates a level of trust and confidence in our customers and in our referral sources. In other words, it is an extension of us, of what my husband, Richard, and I believe­--that every patient is seen and cared for as if they were someone from our own family.” “In regards to referral sources, the content in our promotional literature is so informative and explains so fully what is required, that in their eyes we are no longer seen as ‘just difficult to deal with.’ Pieces like our Medicare Quick Reference Guide, the Know Your Options guide, or the Know Your Rehab Options guide; they are factual, well presented and for the last five years, have helped professionals understand the process, and build their own awareness of the quality products and services we have available for their patients.” “And one more thing,” Sharon shares, “I would be remiss if I didn’t let other Members in on our little secret. We don’t spend any of our valuable time creating these pieces. VGM has done all the legwork on our print marketing. Getting this stuff from them is so easy, honestly, for us? It’s a no brainer. We WANT to be the ones educating the community and VGM’s program certainly makes it easy.” For more information about using print marketing to educate your patients, consumers and referral sources, go to, or contact [email protected] or call 888.875.7707.