Welcome To HME’s New Hometown
A newly unified Medtrade is settling into Dallas, and judging by the expo, conference and networking opportunities, the annual industry event has found its new home sweet home.
- By David Kopf
- Mar 13, 2023
When Medtrade announced that it would unify its Medtrade Spring and Medtrade Fall events into a single annual event in a central U.S. location, it was responding to a longstanding request from many attendees and exhibitors alike. Hosting two events in two separate seasons on two opposite sides of the country was getting to be too much for an industry that was seeing consolidation.
But it’s also fair to say some folks in the industry might have been a tiny bit nervous to see if everything was going to turn out okay. Well, it turns out any jitters were unwarranted.
As the newly unified Medtrade conference and expo quickly approaches its March 28-30 date at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas, it looks like the show’s new format and location have hit a bullseye with exhibitors and attendees. Existing exhibitors, as well as companies interested in returning to the show, are demonstrating renewed enthusiasm, according to Show Director York Schwab.
“The industry has responded really well to the location,” Schwab says. “And I think having one show in 2023 has given people a sense of urgency. When a dedicated group of people has been crying out for something for a long time and you’re fortunate enough to deliver that to them, they tend to respond favorably. And I think we’re benefiting from that.”
An Expanding Expo
In fact, as a sign of how well the industry has responded, Schwab noted the expo is already outgrowing its current exhibit hall, Hall D, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison center. The expo runs March 29-30, and at the time of writing this story, the expo hall floor is 20 percent larger, covering approximately 8,000 more square feet than Medtrade East in October.
“We had to take the New Product Pavilion off of the expo hall floor and move it into the lobby because we needed the booth space,” Schwab said, adding it was a happy accident. “I think this turned out to be more ideal than having it on the floor, because I think, as an attendee, you’re going to see it out of the corner of your eye when you’re at registration, and you’re going to be drawn to go see it even before you go into the expo hall. Inside, the expo is so full that our general service contractor, Freeman, is not even going to have its service center directly on the show floor because there is no room left behind the drapes.
“In the expo hall, there are new companies,” he continues. “There are companies on the expo hall floor that you haven’t seen at a trade show in a couple of years. There are companies that you have seen regularly that are going to have bigger and better experiences than in years past.”
“The industry has responded really well to the location,” says Medtrade Show Director York Schwab. “… When a dedicated group of people has been crying out for something for a long time and you’re fortunate enough to deliver that to them, they tend to respond favorably.”
As a host city, Dallas definitely wants to be a premier host city for events. The city is spending $2 billion on a renovation of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center that will play out over several years. The renovation won’t impact the show this year, and Schwab says he does not expect it to impact the show in 2024 either. The key is that the investment means Medtrade will have a top-tier facility for its annual event.
“It’s certainly going to be growing,” he added. “Dallas is making a big play on the national scale, and that makes sense, given the city’s central location.”
And when it comes to attendance, at the time of this writing (late February), Schwab says that Medtrade 2023’s attendance is tracking “higher and faster” than October’s farewell Medtrade East. Moreover, there should be some new faces at this year’s event thanks to the new location.
“I believe that we’re going to be accessing a different audience in Texas,” he says. “We’ll have to wait until the show to see how that bears out, but I think there’s going to be some new people that have not been to our show before, because when we were Medtrade West and Medtrade East, what’s in between those locations? Only the biggest HME market in the country.”
Looking at the conference, Medtrade’s education kicks off on March 28 and runs through the event to the end of the show on March 30. Conference tracks include audits; business operations; leadership; legislative, regulatory and legal; Medicare updates; payer relations; sales & marketing; services; and technology. When it comes to the sessions, attendees, new and returning, can expect new, more relevant content from the event. This comes from a new approach that Medtrade adopted in its call for presentations a couple of years ago.
“We changed the application process because we wanted to make sure that we were getting the most up-to-date content and that we were able to pivot and respond to trends,” Schwab says. “So, this event’s educational content is totally different from just a few months ago in October. We’re able to be very selective of our sessions, which really hones the product into a real magnet to get people to come to the show and get relevant content.”
Also, Medtrade’s first-day Workshops return, being held on March 28. These include the Team@Work Sales Bootcamp from Ty Bello, RCC, president and founder of industry sales and management coaching firm Team@Work Coaching; An Introduction to the Certified Durable Medical Equipment Specialist from accrediting organization BOC; and Retail Fundamentals from Rob Baumhover, COO at Independent Medical Equipment.
Additionally, mobility-related CEUs are available at Medtrade 2023, with a three-part mobility-related course scheduled for March 28-30. Taught by Alex Chesney, OTR, ATP/SMS, the clinical sales manager at Quantum Rehab, the course consists of three different classes that offer continuing education units (CEUs). The courses are Seating and Mobility Foundations; Balancing Function; and Independence; and Beyond Drive Control: Maximizing Function and Independence Through Programming Options.
And when it comes to an update on key legislative, regulatory and payer relations trends impacting the industry, Medtrade and the American Association for Homecare have moved the AAHomecare Update to later in the day on March 29. Instead of holding what’s essentially Medtrade keynote session early in the morning before the first day of the expo begins, Medtrade will hold the AAHomecare Update from 2 to 3 p.m. that day, with conference sessions ending before the Update so that attendees can learn more about key industry trends.
Of course, Medtrade wouldn’t be Medtrade without opportunities for HME industry members to get together, socialize and swap insights. The first such event is Tuesday (March 28) evening’s Consultant Cocktail Hour, which lets attendees grab a drink and network with peers, and learn from industry experts at this unique Q&A and networking combo. Topics and the experts on-hand to address them are:
- Audits – Kelly Grahovac, Wayne van Halem
- Accreditation/Compliance – Mary Ellen Conway
- Mergers and Acquisitions – Bradley Smith
- Medicare Advantage – Laura Willard & Craig Douglass
- Operations and Benchmarking – Miriam Lieber, Sarah Hanna & Alan Morris
- Regulatory Affairs – Kim Brummett & Cara Bachenheimer
- Ask the Lawyers – Denise Leard & Jeff Baird
- Billing and Reimbursement – Ronda Buhrmester & Andrea Stark
- Retail – Rob Baumhover
- Sales – Ty Bello
“The Consultant Cocktail Hour is open to all conference attendees — no more tickets,” Schwab adds. “If you have a conference badge, come in, grab a refreshment and talk to an expert.”
As the first day of the expo winds down on Wednesday (March 29), Medtrade will host its Welcome to Dallas Reception during the final hour of the expo. The event lets attendees grab refreshments located at stands across the expo hall and engage with colleagues and vendors in a much more relaxed atmosphere after a busy day of sessions, the AAHomecare Update, and walking the show floor.
Finally, that leaves the American Association for Homecare Stand Up for Homecare reception, which has been the premier networking event during Medtrade for several years. In addition, the event benefits a good cause, with proceeds from Stand Up for Homecare supporting patient advocacy groups that represent a broad range of people who use HME.
All told, a newly unified Medtrade is off to a roaring start in its new home. It might have been sad to bid Medtrade East in Atlanta a fond farewell, but the new beginning.
“We’re always trying to unlock the best format,” Schwab says. “Our goal is perfection, which we will obviously never attain, but we’re trying to deliver the best show possible. And this show is a different show than it was in October — in all good ways. The team’s fired up. I’m excited.”