The State of DMEPOS: Where Does It Stand Now, and Where Are We Heading?
Orthotics & Prosthetics
on April 28, 2023
By Jeremy Stolz, President, VGM & Associates and VGM Fulfillment
The DMEPOS profession is facing many challenges, perhaps more than ever before. However, we are also positioned to have an incredibly positive 2023. It’s true some challenges—such as employee recruitment and retention and the supply chain crisis—will likely persist throughout 2023 and beyond, since others related to the pandemic are beginning to subside, allowing us to operate at a higher level and regain focus on growing our businesses.
The paradigm is also shifting within DMEPOS and throughout the continuum of care. The ongoing pressures on the U.S. healthcare infrastructure have created an environment where care in the home is more important than ever.
If we take advantage of the opportunities before us and capitalize on the momentum we have going into 2023, we have every reason to be optimistic about the state of our profession. As my teams and I look to the future, here are the areas we recommend you consider as part of your plan of action.
Embrace and Leverage Technology
We must continue to embrace technology and utilize technology-driven solutions to help with ongoing challenges—for example, staffing issues. Since DME companies have what is effectively a fixed income, it’s difficult to compete in a hiring market where some of the salaries that are being offered to candidates may be twice what you pay your employees.
Look for ways to reduce the time spent on routine data entry and order processing by embracing process automations. Leveraging technology to streamline processes not only enables you to do more with the staff you have, it helps reduce the burnout (and ultimately turnover) of your employees.
No strategic plan for business growth is complete without considering technology-driven solutions. Embracing and leveraging the technology available to your organization is going to be imperative to overcome challenges and promote long-term sustainability.
Capitalize on Business Software and Outsourcing Solutions
DME businesses should consider software solutions and outsourcing routine processes where it makes sense. If there’s an opportunity to outsource a solution that you’re putting labor and busy work into, or there’s a solution that can automate a process, then it’s something you should strongly consider.
The goal is to allow you and your staff to focus on the core areas that most impact the business, limiting the time spent on menial tasks. Doing so will help keep your costs under control in a long term, sustainable way and help you shift resources toward capitalizing on the many opportunities to grow in 2023.
Some examples of outsourcing opportunities include billing, human resources, or supply distribution. However, this is only the beginning. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your staff. They’re performing the day-to-day work and likely already have a few ideas of how to improve the process. Plus, in seeking their input, you help promote employee engagement for when you’re ready to make a change.
Lean on Partners for Supply Chain Solutions
While there is great potential for supply chain issues to improve, it’s an issue that cannot be solved immediately. We will continue to have issues with availability of product which subsequently impacts our ability to properly care for patients. DMEPOS providers must be thoughtful and strategic about how to procure the products you have, and it is another area where outsourcing should be strongly considered.
Managing product fulfillment and distribution without a logistics partner limits your ability to purchase and diversify your options. I touched on this particular topic in a previous playbook article, “Meeting Our Customers’ Needs at Home,” and it is even more relevant today. Simply put, all DMEPOS providers should consider using distribution partners.
Invest in Your People and Culture
Investing in your people from a talent standpoint is also going to be critical in 2023. The employee market is thin, and employees have more employment options. Employee retention and engagement are essential in the current market. Employees don’t just want better salaries and flexibility. They want fulfilling careers, and this means we must invest in culture.
More than ever before, in order to maintain employee retention and engagement, DME businesses must invest in things such as:
- Effective onboarding and training of employees
- Career path transparency
- Work-sponsored team building
- Development opportunities
- Mentorship programs
Use Data to Demonstrate Value to Referral Sources
We also need to be more data-focused when it comes to how we market ourselves to the rest of the healthcare ecosystem, including physicians, hospitals, and all other segments we rely upon. The patient is certainly your consumer, but in most cases you don’t have a patient without a referral source. This party effectively serves as a decision maker for what type of DME will be provided and where it will come from. Leveraging data to efficiently and effectively connect with those referral sources is imperative.
There’s a plethora of data available that will tell you who is referring patients in your area and what they are being referred for. This type of data will ensure you’re fishing where the fish are, and it is a great way to both grow your business and streamline your sales efforts.
Promote a Unified Voice in Advocacy
DMEPOS plays an integral role in the lives of millions of Americans. When it comes to making our voices heard as a profession, it is essential that we are more unified than ever before in our legislative and advocacy efforts at both the state and national levels.
With the recent midterm election in November 2022, there are significant opportunities to gain momentum in our efforts to modernize payment rates for DMEPOS, in both the House and the Senate. VGM Government Relations, along with AAHomecare and other state and national organizations, are committed to being unified in our messaging, and we need DME providers to do the same.
Where We’re Heading
Moving into 2023, we are set up for success. If we continue to evolve and capitalize on the solutions in front of us, we can write one of the best chapters in the history of our great profession.
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This article was originally featured in the VGM Playbook: Forecasting 2023. To read the full article and more like this, download your copy of the playbook today!
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