Running a family business in the medical industry is an already-complicated endeavor, before taking into account the myriad regulations, insurance companies, Medicare, and other rules that govern the industry. For Cape Medical Supply and its CEO Gary Sheehan, navigating his family-owned business in healthcare is centered around a central priority: creating a high-quality experience for patients.
The company was founded in 1977 by Sheehan’s parents, when the concept of a home medical supply business was in its infancy. His parents’ goal of supporting patients after they have transitioned back to their homes and communities following a serious diagnosis or major medical event remains a cornerstone of the company’s mission.
Sheehan’s parents didn’t intend Cape Medical Supply to be a multigenerational business, but today Sheehan works with his two brothers, Michael and Kevin, who are the COO and the director of CPAP supply replenishment, respectively. The family business is on a solid growth trajectory since it has narrowed down the markets it serves to two separate product verticals: sleep therapy and orthopedic bracing, Sheehan says. The company currently serves patients across Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island out of its Cape Cod, Massachusetts, headquarters and service locations across New England.
“One of the things about working in a midsized company like ours is the competitive environment—a few key wins really move the needle,” Sheehan says. One of its recent big wins is building out a more user-friendly digital platform for patients, which has improved treatment compliance rates—a big problem in sleep therapy specifically.
Cape Medical Supply’s new e-commerce platform is focused primarily on cash items that aren’t necessarily covered by insurance, as well as core sleep supplies that can be billed to insurance. In addition, it has launched a Patient Hub app powered by Brightree, so its clientele can reorder sleep therapy supplies directly from their Apple or Android devices.
The company also recently launched a platform for new patients with the company, SwitchToBetterSleep.com. “Focusing on the patient experience is the core of our company,” says Sheehan. The idea behind this platform is to “help new clients make an easy switch and make the patient onboarding journey is simple as possible.”
“We want to see patients actively using and benefiting from sleep therapy,” Sheehan says. “We even have a dedicated member of the team who helps onboard new patients who are transitioning to us from other providers and help them from their first order all the way to their regular reorders of consumable products.”
The home healthcare industry is getting more competitive every day—Amazon has been making inroads into the industry. Sheehan says complex regulations and increasing competition aren’t going to intimidate him and his team, however. “Our business is not going to hide behind that complexity, and instead we are going to continue to challenge ourselves on how to build even better platforms that allow us to grow and provide better service to our patients.”
Sheehan is well-suited to steer Cape Medical Supply through an industry as complex as home healthcare. As a member of the board of directors at the American Homecare Association, he works to develop policies and foster more constructive dialogues between care providers, patients, insurance companies, and government agencies.
He adds that the home healthcare industry is missing an appropriate reimbursement program that covers total costs, which can’t compare to standard e-commerce platforms or Amazon because there are setup and delivery costs, insurance costs, and more.
“Comparing the cost of paying for a product online and receiving a product from an established provider who will deliver and set up the items, oftentimes the same day they are ordered, simply isn’t an appropriate way to think about this market—it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison of cost structures.”
Over the years, new federal regulations and Medicare bills have led to the closing or consolidation of many home healthcare companies, but Cape Medical Supply has thrived, even recently being named to the Inc 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.
Sheehan says the reason for its success is clear. In addition to focusing on the patient experience, the company is dedicated to creating a patient experience that is appreciated by the medical professionals it partners with, along with bringing on people who are problem-solvers and embrace new technology, respecting what patients need in their lives.
“We want people on our team who are solutions-focused and can think on their feet,” Sheehan says. “It’s important that everyone at Cape Medical Supply can collaborate with patients and referral partners to get the patients what they need despite all the red tape.”