From: HME News

‘Some people want the doom and gloom, but that’s simply not the case’

By Liz Beaulieu, Editor

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011, says the days of increasing its HME provider membership by 10% each year are long gone. But that’s not cause for concern, says COO Jim Phillips.

“Some people want the doom and gloom, but that’s simply not the case,” he said. “Our membership is stable. We’re just not seeing the HME entries that we did years and years ago.”

VGM’s membership is hovering at about 2,300 providers with about 3,800 locations at the close of 2011, Phillips said.

What is increasing: the number of educational events VGM offers its members and the number of members who take advantage of them, Phillips said.

“Our members are more active than ever,” he said. “There’s a lot of work going on.”

The latest addition to VGM’s educational events: competitive bidding seminars taking place across the country through December. The seminars not only educate members about the program, but also give them ideas on new ways to make money.

“So it’s not just how do I live with a big cut,” Phillips said. “It’s how do I diversify my business.”

VGM is also increasing the number of programs and services it offers its members. Recent additions include programs for automated patient communications and outreach, and home sleep testing.

“We’re constantly evaluating what we offer to see if there’s a way to for us to keep adding to it,” Phillips said. “So if providers need something, it’s available.”

Although VGM has diversified into the golf and country club industry since it went into business in 1986, it’s still firmly rooted in the HME industry, Phillips said.

“This industry has to grow; it’s the saving grace to this country,” he said. “We’re an aging America and we need more homecare providers, not fewer. Everyone wants to be in the home, and it’s the cheapest and safest place to be.”