What I learned in Vegas and bringing it back to Yakima!

Spring MedTrade 2015  

It’s that time of year again. Our semi-annual trade show in Vegas where all the business leaders who run medical supplies gather in Las Vegas to network and look at the newest products. I want to share some of my insights from the trip.

Several hundred of us cramped into a large room to hear what is next in Washington DC and legislation.
Several hundred of us cramped into a large room to hear what is next in Washington DC and legislation.

I always like seeing new products. Three of my favorites:

  1. Evolution walkers:  We have carried these for over a year now. These are the BEST walkers on the market and they are priced this way too. For the person who doesn’t want to deal with the generic Medicare walker and has the money to spend, this is the way to go. We call them European walkers because those in Europe know how to get around and appreciate walking. We have three different kinds of these walkers at our store so try both the Medicare walker and this one out and you’ll see what we are talking about!
  2. Sunrise Medical who handles all of our lightweight wheelchair products has a new no-insurance wheelchair. Howard’s is the exclusive dealer here in Yakima. Some of the neat things you get in this chair: easily adjustable push handles (which is great for someone like me who is 6’2” tall), brakes on the handles instead of having to bend down and set them on the wheels, and disc brakes. All of the other qualities of a lightweight wheelchairs are still there including quick release axils but they took a good wheelchair and made it great!
  3. How does someone who is a quad supposed to easily pull their pants up in the bathroom? There is a product now for this individual called pants-up-easy. This is a product we can order for these individual because they deserve to be independent just like the rest of us!

I hate talking about this, but most of our business is contingent on what is going on in Washington DC. In January of 2016, Medicare is planning on making rural areas accept the larger city’s reimbursements. What this really means for the residents of the Yakima Valley is we will be reimbursed less for our medical products. For example instead of being reimbursed $182/month for oxygen, this will drop to close to $100. Instead of $140 for a walker with seat, this will drop to $85. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know you won’t get the same quality product.

Howard’s recently joined AA Homecare to help in the lobbying effort to make this so it doesn’t happen. If it does go though we will be okay as business; however, Howard’s will have to become even more efficient and handle more with less. What this means for our customers is we frequently have to provide a more affordable options instead of what we currently offer. Yesterday as an example, we had a patient who needed help and adjustments on a product in Mabton, we made the trip. These trips will be harder to make if Medicare forces us to do more with less and those patients will have to come to our store instead of us going to them.

It was Vegas and I did bring my daughter.  In-between networking, I did get 30 minutes of swimming in the wave pool.
It was Vegas and I did bring my daughter. In-between networking, I did get 30 minutes of swimming in the wave pool.

Last and my favorite part of MedTrade was the networking. There are not many of us here in Yakima who run a medical supply store. I had a great opportunity to go to dinner with another family owned DME out of Wenatchee and another out of Oregon. We shared some of our secrets about taking care of our customers, winning audits, and what we can do to become even better at our trade (what we call our Ninja secrets here at Howard’s).

Erik at Howard’s

509-654-9899

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