Perils and Profits
In conducting accreditation surveys for HME providers and pharmacies with HME, I observe well-run companies. I also observe companies that struggle to provide home medical equipment products and services.
From that perspective, I will discuss the perils and opportunities for pharmacies in providing HME, as well as how they can take advantage of pharmacy traffic to market HME.
HME product selection varies widely among pharmacies. Some pharmacies mainly carry diabetic supplies and perhaps incontinent products. Others are full HME providers and may include oxygen, rehab wheelchairs and other products and services.
The HME industry is unique because its customers still need personal service. Therefore, a pharmacy that is primarily self-service will be unable to properly help customers needing medical equipment or supplies.
I have watched untrained pharmacy employees give HME customers poor information about HME products and services. On the other hand, there are pharmacies that supply HME through a separate division, which provides proper training to employees.
Management must commit time and money to properly train employees to serve HME customers. Pharmacies proceed into HME at their own peril without this commitment.
That being said, there is great opportunity for pharmacies to market HME products to their customers. But it requires effort to promote HME so customers know the products are available. They can then turn to the pharmacy when they actually have a need for the products.
There is one area that most pharmacies, as well as HME providers, fail to use to its full advantage. It is the opportunity to continue to provide services to a satisfied customer and also to be referred to that customer’s family and friends. This requires ongoing contact with customers, which reaps great rewards.
Market to Existing Customers
Whether you are a pharmacy with a retail showroom or an HME company, once you have obtained a customer and have their trust, it makes good business sense to continue strengthening that relationship.
Your computer database is your most important resource. Maintain a group field where you can identify customers by diagnosis class, such as respiratory, diabetic or incontinent. There may be opportunities to target a particular group. For example, you could invite diabetic customers to see a new blood glucose meter.