Dynamic Duos: The Value of Strategic Relationships
- By Bert Burns
- Jun 01, 2011
Bert Burns (at head of table) is the founder of UroMed. To discuss partnership opportunities with UroMed, contact Lisa Wells, director of marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (800) 841-1233.
Athlete, rehabilitation professional, business owner, motivational speaker, family man: Bert Burns has been all these things since incurring a spinal cord injury (SCI) in a car accident in his 20s. After graduating from the University of Florida, Bert worked at the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta and became a wheelchair racer with multiple world records and a 1992 Paralympics gold medal. In 1996, Bert founded UroMed (uromed.com), one of the nation’s largest catheter supply companies.
Here, Bert discusses the value that UroMed places on strategic business relationships and the potential that partnering can offer to complex rehab providers who are focused on extending connections with their customers.
Q: What products and services does UroMed provide?
Bert Burns: UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of singleuse catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies or continence care products from the leading name-brand urology and incontinence supply manufacturers.
UroMed also partners with thousands of private health-insurance providers and health plans to provide our customers with no-hassle insurance billing along with complimentary home delivery for their urological supplies. In addition to our headquarters facility outside Atlanta, UroMed has eight staffed regional offices — Boston; Columbia, S.C.; Richmond, Va.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Dallas; Carlsbad, Calif.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Baton Rouge, La. — enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order.
Q: Tell us about your customers — what are their ages and genders, and what diagnoses do they typically have? What are their primary clinical, activities and lifestyle concerns?
A: Most of UroMed’s customers experience urological or incontinence issues, and have conditions like spinal cord injury, spina bifida, transverse myelitis or multiple sclerosis. While they come from a wide range of demographic backgrounds, they all share the same concern of living as independently and actively as possible.
What’s interesting is that nearly 25 percent of UroMed’s staff has a disability or has a family member with a disability. This sets the company apart, since our employees offer customers first-hand advice on using the company’s products. Often, our employees answer questions that have nothing to do with the company’s products. People ask me about everything from wheelchair sports to using a catheter on a plane. Many times, we get questions from customers who want to know what adaptive technology or type of wheelchair that our employees prefer.
Q: If you could partner with a complex rehab provider, what sorts of information or support could you offer to that provider? What support or information would you hope to get in return?
A: UroMed representatives already partner with a number of niche DME and pharmaceutical providers, as well as urological product manufacturers, to network in the field and share a variety of resources. By doing so, we’ve learned that customers appreciate the reference information that meets their needs, and our partners feel more engaged in a broader relationship with their clients. In partnering with a mobility provider, we could both:
- Team up in the field to offer in-service programs to healthcare professionals and peer support groups.
- Co-sponsor community events that assist our mutual customers.
- Cross-promote available services through our e-newsletters.
- Link to providers through the Resources section of our Web sites.
- Connect on Facebook (we currently have 1,300-plus friends who have joined our non-profit page, Life After Spinal Cord Injury) to promote joint activities and partner resources through social media.
- Insert informational flyers about partner services in our monthly shipments to customers.
Q: How is partnering with provider peers a “win-win”?
A: UroMed is accredited by both the ACHC and the Better Business Bureau, and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution recently named us as one of Metro Atlanta’s Top Workplaces. We’d like to partner with reputable and responsible mobility providers who are deeply involved in supporting the community they serve.
Through strategic relationships, we hope to expand the continuum of care resources that our mutual customers can receive, knowing that our strategic partners will benefit as well from increased customer referrals and local networking opportunities.
We also believe that any time two groups come together to focus on the customer, the individual receives the most benefits, and that’s why we’re in this business in the first place. Our customers are always interested in stories and resources that inspire and improve their life, and we’d be happy to share yours with them!
This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Mobility Management.