Have heard a lot about the Ossur situation, put a lot of thought into this
program, and have to put my two cents in.
I have been practicing for over 15 years and have fit A LOT of Flex Foot and
Ossur products. When the sales rep came in to explain the new Ossur
program, I had to take some time to think about the sales pitch and what it
would do for my company. These were my thoughts to the supposed benefits.
I was told this was a great way to combat Hanger in the market place:
although none of the literature or website stuff says anything about Hanger,
the sales rep sure made this a major part of the presentation. I have a
major problem with this, so what, Hanger decided to shift their purchases to
different vendors, hey, I choose to do most of my business with select
vendors as well. I decided that I was fairly offended by this sales tactic,
the message I was getting from the sales rep was I ever stop buying from
Ossur like Hanger did, they are going to try to hurt my business, that is
just not right. As a practitioner, I decide what is right for my patients,
and if I decide change to springlite or freedom, I do not think it is very
professional for Ossur to suggest that they will punish me for it. What give
Ossur the right to try to intimidate me into using their products?
The sales rep stated they would help market to my referrals and payers. At
first that sounds like a great idea, but wait, they are also selling the
same story about other Ossur Affiliates, which are also my competition. So
Ossur is going to contact my referrals and my payers and tell them that my
competitors can do the same job I am doing. Wait a minute, I just spent
years educating my referrals that I was something special, now Ossur wants
me to pay them a fee so Ossur can go to my referrals and undo all my hard
work and tell my referrals I am no better than the other Ossur Accredited
Facilities. Why would I want to do something so stupid?
According to the literature the program gives O&P businesses the opportunity
to use the power of professional marketing without incurring the prohibitive
marketing costs. Sure, but who is the marketing for, Ossur or me? I have
spent years promoting my name, my company, my logo and my services; all
these Ossur marketing dollars are used to promote Ossur, not me as an
individual. Ossur has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and they
are using this money to sell Ossur, not my company, and as we all know, it
is the personal relationship that creates business, not a flashy website or
a brochure. Ossur is going to list me in a special book, big deal, I am
already in the yellow pages and all my referrals already have that book.
The Ossur agreement stated that contract members agree to prominently
display the Ossur patient brochure in the waiting room and identify all
facilities as an Ossur affiliate in marketing and communication materials,
such as yellow page advertisements, business cards, mailers and newsletters.
Why would I pay Ossur a marketing fee and in turn be required to advertise
Ossur in my yellow page ad? This is just plain crazy. If Ossur paid me I
might consider putting Ossur advertising on my newsletter, mailers and
I would be required to litter my office with Ossur brochures, think about
this, a patient comes in my office, picks up the brochure, sees the Ossur
web address and then goes home and goes on line, they now have a complete
list of all my competition in my area and they can now go bargain hunting to
try to find a better deal. Ossur will also start advertising to all the
referrals and payers in my area, and again, now referrals and payers have a
direct contact with all my competition in town to go bargain hunting and
price comparing. Ossur is selling the fact that all Ossur Affiliates are
great above average facilities, so now I loose the competitive edge I have
secured over the years because I paid Ossur to tell my referrals that my
competition is just as good as me.
Next part of the agreement, I need to purchase a minimum of $12,000 of
product, attend Ossur seminars, that by the way are not free, and have to
ensure that I purchase a little of everything from Ossur, feet, liners and
knees. So now I have the added stress of tracking my specific purchases to
stay on the program, AND I AM PAYING TO PART OF THE PROGRAM. Why would I
want to do something so stupid?
According to an article in the latest OP Business news, the program was
started because that some facilities were being restricted on the product
choice based on profit margins and not necessarily the patients. What
company in the US does not choose products based upon profit margin? I do
not know of a single practitioner that does not take into consideration the
price of the product before they purchase it.
The OP News article also quoted Ossur president Gary Wertz with The
overriding goal is to provide the most appropriate and effective solution
for every amputee, and then a paragraph later he said that because Ossur is
helping the O&P practitioners get more referrals, Ossur will get more
product usage. Now we are getting to the truth, Ossur wants to sell more
Ossur products. They do not care about the most appropriate and effective
solution for every amputee, what they care about is putting Ossur products
on every patient.
I had to ask myself, what if all the suppliers started a program like this,
the answer appears obvious, and it would be chaos. Every supplier wants
you to use their products, if we help every supplier have direct access to
our referrals and payers, we as practitioners no longer will control our own
destiny. The suppliers will have the ability to direct OUR patients and we
will be left in the dark.
I keep asking myself, why would 600 practices nationwide give Ossur what
appears to be over $750,000 collectively to be part of a group that is
committed to purchase, promote and sell Ossur products? I just do not see
any wisdom in this program.
Now for the BIG QUESTION. Is this program legal? I believe this would be
seen as a kick back by Medicare. Follow the bouncing ball. Ossur
advertised to referrals that treat Medicare patients. The referral is
encouraged to refer the patients to Ossur Affiliated Facilities. The OAF
practice is paying a marketing fee to Ossur and is promoting Ossur on
business cards, yellow pages etc and then fits the patient with an Ossur
product based upon the fact they have to purchase a minimum quantity of
Ossur products per year. I am not a lawyer but it sounds like a kickback to
Please, someone tell me what I am missing, this just does not make sense,
what is in this for me? Why would someone join this program?
If I pay the fee, I have to meet the Ossur standards, promote the Ossur
products and purchase a minimum quantity of components, and if I stop paying
the fee, Ossur will do their best drive business away from me.
I know what I am going to do, first, starting immediately I am shifting
every purchase I can away from Ossur. Next, I am going to educate every
referral and payer that I have a relationship with that this Ossur program
is nothing more than a PR marketing program to drive sales for Ossur. I
will explain that every supposed Ossur Affiliated Facility paid to be part
of this program. They are not clinically superior, they are not better
trained, they have no higher standards, they simply paid a fee to join the
Ossur buying group, kind of like an O&P Samâ€™s club. I am going to copy the
article in the latest O&P Business news and give it to my referrals so they
know that the only thing special about Ossur Affiliates is that they have
paid a fee and are part of a PR selling machine.
I invite you to follow my lead to do your part to educate the industry just
how wrong this Ossur program is for our payers, our referrals, our business,
our profession and most importantly our patients.
Why would anyone in their right mind join this crazy concept?
R Miller, CP
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