Take Holistic Approach to Women's Health
on September 25, 2023
This post was originally featured in HME News.
Women’s health comprises many sectors, but the major ones are maternity and postpartum, as well as post-mastectomy and menopause products. And although those sectors have very different characteristics, they actually represent an opportunity for HME providers to care for female patients over the course of their lives, specialists in the field say.
The advantage for astute providers is to establish relationships with clients while they are young by furnishing maternity items and offering post-mastectomy and other services as they mature.
“I would encourage HME providers to champion the entire category and be known as a ‘women’s health supplier,’” said Nikki Jensen, vice president of Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM’s Essentially Women division. “It diversifies your opportunities in the marketplace and strengthens the provider’s role as a contractor with payers. Specializing in women’s health elevates the provider’s profile in the marketplace and community they serve.”
Women are also the main influencers and decision-makers for their families and nurturing relationships with them over time builds solid trust, Jensen said. Serving the spectrum of women’s health not only strengthens bonds with the clientele, she said, it can establish an entire network of clinicians, referral sources, payers and other HME providers.
“Even if a client needs something you don’t carry, they want you to be that go-to source,” Jensen said. “Even if you can’t provide what they need, perhaps you can recommend others. Having insurance contracts gives you control.”
Deep dive: Moms & infants
Raleigh, N.C.-based Motif Medical is focused on maternity, from pregnancy to postpartum.
“In doing so, we offer the patient the chance to maximize her benefits, while allowing the HME provider to increase their amount of billable products per patient,” said Brandon Fonville, director.
Motif also offers several cash-pay items for patients, such as pregnancy leggings, bike shorts and a Stage 3 C-section dressing system.
“We are passionate about educating our patients on product coverage to provide them with the best experience, which they deserve,” he said. “We pride ourselves on being a one-stop-shop for HME providers to service moms from start to finish in their motherhood journey.”
Other maternity products include breast pumps, compression hosiery (for ankle swelling) and maternity support bands. Specialized formula is a key product for infants.
The women’s health category has several cross-over sales opportunities – with some not as obvious, such as female incontinence, which afflicts women of all ages. Not only can HME providers offer undergarments to new mothers, they can also educate clients on how to manage their incontinence, Jensen said.
“So many women after childbirth think crossing their legs after coughing, laughing or sneezing is normal, when it is usually a weak pelvic muscle,” she said. “Kegel exercises can be effective in strengthening that muscle, but many women don’t know how to do them. Providers can advise their patients on this, along with offering products to help them.”
One such product is from Monroe, Conn.-based Elidah, which is promoting its Elitone Urge as a solution to bladder leaks. The external, non-implanted muscle stimulator signals to calm the muscles and nerves that cause the leaks.
As female patients age past their maternity years, HME providers can serve their post-mastectomy and menopause needs with innovative new products. For post-mastectomy patients, custom prosthetics are “a game changer” for the sector, Jensen said.
“It doesn’t require inventory, it custom fits against the chest wall and feels more natural,” she said. “From the patient experience, custom prosthesis makes their eyes light up because they had no idea that this could feel so natural. Custom prosthesis feels like them, and unlike off-the-shelf prostheses, they don’t take them off.”
For menopause, Boston-based Embr Labs has developed a non-pharmaceutical wearable device that intelligently cools and warms by activating the wearer’s thermal senses. The technology connects to the perception of temperature, with precise cooling and warming sensations.
Because of the delicate nature of these conditions, HME providers should have a private room with a warm, inviting atmosphere where patients can come in and sit down and talk about their needs.
“This takes listening and understanding,” Jensen said, “Make sure they know they’re being heard.”
The power of strategic marketing
In the simplest of terms, the best marketing strategy is about forging relationships with referral sources – not just prescribers, but those within the circle of influence, such as nurse navigators.
“The patient goes to the staff, not the prescriber,” Jensen said. “Build that relationship, so these folks know the services you provide. Be the reliable, trusted source. Make the investment and do the in-services regularly. It doesn’t happen overnight but goes far in building your reputation.”
- women's health