DMEPOS Warriors: Michael Tracey with Aspirus At Home Medical Equipment

Published in Member Communities on October 06, 2020

VGM & Associates always enjoys highlighting our members who are a shining example of excellence in DME. The current business environment can be difficult to navigate and generating revenue can sometimes be a challenge. However, Michael Tracey shares with us how he helped lead Aspirus At Home Medical Equipment to success and provides tips for how Aspirus generates revenue.

Please describe your role and responsibilities with Aspirus. 

I am the Director of Aspirus At Home Medical Equipment. I have been here for two years and two months.

Can you tell us more about your background and how you originally got connected to the industry in 1979?  

I started out as a Respiratory Therapist in the mid 70’s and worked primarily in hospitals. I did my first oxygen set up in the home working part time for a national home care company in late 1979. I started a Director of Respiratory Care position in a small hospital in Minnesota and started a hospital-based home respiratory care business in the hospital in 1981. I transitioned out of the hospital settings completely in 1987 and went full time into DME/HME and have held various management positions with various companies since then.

You have been quite successful throughout your time in DME, from managing several DMEs and having Aspirus be ranked in the top 15 health systems in the nation. You’ve also been able to exceed budget revenue goals. Can you share with us what the key to your success is, or tips that have helped you?

Aspirus is a health system in north-central Wisconsin and upper Michigan and has been ranked by IBM in the top 15 health systems in the United States for the past three consecutive years. The DME world is always changing and to be successful, one must always be adaptable to change. Retail is a big deal as cash is golden, but there are other ways to provide services that help to increase the bottom line. A good billing program (we transitioned to TeamDME in April of this year) is the first big step to being successful. One needs to make sure orders are processed and things get billed timely, while at the same time the purchasing and the inventory needs to be monitored closely. Having a solid PAP resupply program with as much automation as possible is critical. We are currently managing nearly 5,000 patients with PAP and provide 625 shipments for 3-month supplies every month through VGM Fulfillment. We also drop-ship all ostomy, urological, wound care, and diabetic supplies without having to handle the inventory. We carry basic compression socks and drop-ship all of the rest through two different partner companies. Having a good oxygen program by using the right combination of portable oxygen concentrators and home fill systems also helps to keep overall expenses in line. With all of these initiatives, we are on track this fiscal year to show all-time record contributions to the bottom line.

What are some of the growing pains you’ve experienced in the industry and how have you overcome them? 

The history of reimbursement cuts have definitely hurt and forced us to think more outside the box. I started my first full-blown retail store in Red Wing, MN back in 1990 and people thought I was crazy.  I was told that is not how DME does things. However, the business opportunities continue to grow, and the demographics are on our side for a long time into the future. There are less of us available to provide these services due to the reimbursement landscape, but those that have figured it out will continue to succeed.

What sets Aspirus apart? 

Aspirus is an integrated health system with their own insurance plan, and in January a new Medicare Advantage plan will continue to treat patients in the region and continue to be strong in the region. We didn’t get named in the top 15 in the country three years in a row for no reason.

What is your “why” for working in this industry?

I like a challenge. I love taking care of people and making their lives easier. I learn something new every day, even after almost 40 years. It’s in my blood.

 Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself or Aspirus?  

We have a great team at Aspirus At Home Medical Equipment, and that is the reason why we are successful. 

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