The Provider/Manufacturer Partnership

Posted on in Business Operations

The durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) industry continues to deal with a dearth in reimbursements and exponential change. Members of our industry are being forced to reinvent themselves and alter long-held ways of doing business. Many newer players have emerged or will emerge into the post-acute health care space. Large companies like Amazon and Walmart bring massive scale and the potential of grave disruption. Smaller ones like Inogen and So Clean have created new consumer-direct programs. Three-fourths of the states employ managed Medicaid, which is changing the way health care is delivered to lower-income people. 

We will continue to see more change and evolution in the coming months and years. Manufacturers and distributors will sell through dealers, direct to institutions, direct to consumers, and via large payers in other instances. But, what does this actually mean for providers? 

Well, for one…

What’s good for the patient is good for us

Much like the DMEPOS landscape, consumer behavior is changing. Direct to consumer (DTC) – by anyone from other dealers, manufacturers, or distributors – dramatically raises consumer awareness of solutions and products you are providing. This helps drive demand, drives people to ask questions, consider their options, and visit your stores.

Because the fact is…

Brick and mortar isn’t going anywhere

DTC promotion has been gaining steam in retail for ages now, so you might be surprised to find that retail is still very much alive and well. Even giants like Amazon are actively opening brick and mortar stores. One reason for this is that consumers still want to touch and feel personal items they need. They want to be able to compare different brands side-by-side. They want to ask questions of a knowledgeable human, face to face, and gain understanding and peace of mind. Providers do so much more than offer equipment and service. They are experts in the industry and can offer guidance to help patients navigate their care.

Speaking of expertise…

Say hello to data

A big benefit manufacturers will see from DTC promotions is simply becoming savvier about the market, but when this information is shared, DMEPOS providers benefit, too. When providers and manufacturers work together, both stand to see an increase in sales.

At the end of the day…

The relationship hasn’t actually changed all that much

DTC behavior has been a part of other industries for decades. Consider companies such as Nike or Apple. You can purchase directly from both, yet most people opt to visit a local store—to find the right fit or to test out a product. What we see is not typically a decrease in sales for retailers, but an increase in demand for the products.

In the DMEPOS industry, it has always been a partnership between manufacturer and provider, and it still is. When they work together, everyone wins—especially the patients, many of whom are struggling to get access to the equipment and supplies they need.

To learn more about this and other trends in the retail world, be sure to connect with VGM Retail Services at