The World of HME from the Perspective of Industry Leaders

Published in Member Communities on July 11, 2024

The World of HME

When analyzing what the next generation of post-acute homecare will look like, it’s important to understand what key leaders in the industry are saying. Below are insights from Whitney Baker, Regional Operations Director with Home Medical Products, Inc., and Mitchell Pantelides, owner of CWB Medical Solutions, on how to navigate the ever-changing HME industry as a member of the new generation.

Q: What key leadership skills or competencies are essential for navigating the complexities and having success in the HME industry? 

Whitney: Being open-minded and always being able to grow your knowledge base are essential. The industry changes faster than most industries and being able to maximize the resources provided by partners like VGM and others is crucial for delivering top-notch patient care. Time management is another essential skill. Being able to balance your day to prioritize the tasks thrown at you day-to-day in HME is crucial. Finally, servant leadership is paramount. This means always doing the best you can to serve your team in their careers, as well as serving patients. Growing your team and having their passion for patient care mirroring your company’s objectives will get you to the next level! 

Being open-minded and always being able to grow your knowledge base are essential.

Mitchell: The ability to identify certain strengths of individuals on our team and having them manage different divisions of our organization. 

Q: How do you balance strategic decision-making with day-to-day operational challenges, as well as balancing compassion and business acumen in the HME field? 

Whitney: I find balance by finding the best avenue for the patient that aligns with our business model. This means exhausting all efforts to take care of patients. If you are not able to service them in a way that aligns with your standards, then work with a neighboring partner to assist in getting the patient the best care possible. 

Mitchell: By having a strong support team in place with key people in charge of different product categories and/or tasks. 

Q: What personal qualities or leadership traits are essential for success in HME leadership roles?

Whitney: I strongly believe in servant leadership and dedicating your time to your team. Try to have one-on-one time with your team on a regular cadence to ensure you understand what their day-to-day looks like. If your team knows you can do their job and are willing to “play in the sandbox” with them during rough times, you will see a level of respect and appreciation that shines brightly! 

I strongly believe in servant leadership and dedicating your time to your team. 

Q: What personal habits or routines contribute to your effectiveness as a leader in the HME industry?  

Mitchell: Having an unwavering focus on achieving something each day to grow my business, checking in with intentionality, and calling people daily just to chat. It’s not to ask for something, but instead, it’s for genuine conversation. 

Q: What lessons have you learned from setbacks or failures during your leadership journey?  

Mitchell: I have learned that there will be a lot of them in this industry, so I must let them go, learn from them, and move forward. 

Q: What challenges have you faced as a young leader?  

Mitchell: Some of the biggest challenges I have faced as a young leader is having to take on so much industry knowledge in just three and a half years. I had never owned a business, and I had only five months of DME experience within one niche of the market. Thankfully, I was blessed with many people who taught me along the way and were willing to invest time into me for no personal gain. 

I was blessed with many people who taught me along the way and were willing to invest time into me for no personal gain.

Q: What stereotypes have you had to overcome?  

Mitchell: When I started CWB Medical Solutions, I was only 23 years old and did not have many years of experience under my belt. Many people were concerned about a 23-year-old handling the care of their patients. Building our network of insurances and licenses nationally helped to give me credibility that many began to take more seriously. 

Q: What role does mentorship play in your leadership journey, and how can new leaders seek effective mentors?  

Mitchell: The first thing I did when I decided to start my first company was to speak to as many veterans in the industry as I could, and I also sought out a consultant to act as my mentor. It is also helpful to read articles and attend conferences and expositions in order to learn from those who have more experience. 

Q: What are the most significant changes you’ve witnessed in the HME landscape over the years?  

Whitney: Technology has changed significantly. There has also been a shift in the overall business model, including companies being more segmented in the products they accel with versus being a one-stop-shop. Reimbursement rates have also changed (and not in a good way). Provider and patient expectations of delivery methods is another major change. The higher level of respiratory care offered in the home for high-acuity patients is also a noticeable change in HME. 

Q: How has technology impacted the HME industry during your career?  

Whitney: It has allowed us to scale our teams and maximize on our teams’ true skillsets. It has also allowed us to develop processes and reports with one click versus long, archaic processes most EMR systems force you to sift through to understand your book of business. 

Q: How do you foster innovation and adaptability within your team or organization? 

Mitchell: Being accredited for almost every product in HME. This has given us many opportunities to grow and shift. Everyone within our organization is extremely open-minded and constantly looking for new products that can both improve patients’ lives and gain new business. 

Q: What role does patient-centered care play in successful HME businesses?  

Whitney: It drives top-quality care, which provides the patients with a higher quality of life. We want our patients to follow our company quote, “#liveyourlife.” 

We want our patients to follow our company quote, “#liveyourlife.”

It also allows you to show payors what you do differently to keep costs down and patients out of the hospital. 

Q: How do you handle the evolving regulatory environment in the HME sector, as well as other challenging situations like supply chain disruptions?  

Whitney: It is important to work with legislation at a local level, as well as lobbying and advocating in D.C. I appreciate the great efforts VGM, AAHomecare, and local associations put into helping our industry stay sound. 

Obstacles are part of any business, and I face them one issue at a time.

Mitchell: Obstacles are a part of any business, and I face them one issue at a time. My style is to tackle issues head on and look for solutions. When facing supply chain or similar issues, I usually start making calls and look for as many alternatives as I can find. 

Q: What challenges related to reimbursement and auditing surprised you the most?

Whitney: Going back to the standard rates with MCR recently put a huge cut on our industry, which was alarming. Another surprise was the discovery of Humana HMO contracts with national providers. 

Q: What strategies do you recommend for building and maintaining strong relationships with industry partners, suppliers, and stakeholders?  

Whitney: I recommend working with your vendor partners, and don’t try to work against them. Yes, try to get great pricing, but don’t get to a point where they do not want to work with your company. You never know when you might need them. 

Mitchell: My preferred methods of communication are in-person meetings. Mutual connections have been key to starting many relationships, and investing time into getting to know each individual on a personal level has been crucial to maintaining those relationships. 

Listen to the opinions of those in the field and be open to their ideas

Q: What advice would you give to someone stepping into a high-level leadership role for the first time? 

Mitchell: Listen to the opinions of those in the field and be open to their ideas. 

Q: What advice would you give your younger self about managing work, life, change, etc.?

Whitney: I would tell myself to take things one step at a time. You don’t always have to say yes to everything! And finally, be passionate about what you do, and it will show!

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

VGM Playbook Elevating Performance Harnessing Human CapitalThis article was originally featured in the VGM Playbook: Perspectives on the Next Generation in Post-Acute Homecare. To read the full article and more like this, download your copy of the playbook today


TAGS

  1. hme
  2. leadership
  3. playbook
  4. post-acute homecare
  5. vgm

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