Believing the Buzz
The surest thing about predictions is this: As soon as you make them, the universe will conspire to prove you wrong. Common sense, therefore, should warn against making predictions. And certainly not about a DME segment like mobility or rehab, both waiting for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to rehash, rewrite, redo and rework.
Therefore, we should, under no circumstances, make predictions such as what product segments will be hot in 2006. So here goes.
- Automotive access will be hot. And I'm not just saying that as a commercial for the adaptive automotive equipment handbook mailed to you alongside this January issue. If you were at Medtrade, you saw some very big names make some very visible commitments to the auto access market by introducing more WC-19 wheelchairs or by introducing automotive products (or acquisitions). Not to be outdone, the current auto access heavyweights keep rolling out the products, too. And why not? No matter what CMS says about in-the-home, people who get shiny new POVs and wheelchairs want to take them outside! (If you want to know more about WC-19 or those Medtrade announcements, take a look at the supplement that came with this issue.)
- Bath safety will be hot. Plain-Jane? Low-tech? Same-old, same-old? That's so 2005! It's tough to ignore the household names getting into this market and bringing new designs and thinking with them. At the same time, some stalwarts in this segment are rolling out new ideas, too. Yes, DME has heard the cry of "The boomers are coming!" for awhile, but now we're not the only ones hearing it. And believing it.
- Bariatrics will be hot. Everyone knows the actual number of bariatric clients is relatively low compared to other DME clients, and that's especially true when you get into the highest weight capacities of 500 lbs. or more. But the fact is that obesity "shortcuts" like gastric bypass surgery just haven't been a consistently successful answer to the problem. The good news for clients who need this equipment is that the mobility industry is introducing products not just bigger, but actually better, because they're specifically designed to meet bariatric needs and help with a number of activities of daily living.
- Growth will be hot. We recently received a letter challenging the conventional tale that funding sources will pay for a new wheelchair every five years. The CRTS who wrote pointed out that we should be thinking not in terms of some imaginary five-year finish line, but in terms of functionality and growth and usability … for as long as we can. That's true even, this CRTs said, for pediatric clients. And rehab manufacturers do seem to be taking note. Several introduced products at Medtrade that, once the child was properly assessed and fitted, should serve that child right into adolescence or even young adulthood.
You'll notice I didn't mention a single manufacturer or product name yet. That's intentional: Turn to page 12 of our annual Hot New Products issue to get all the juicy details. Happy New Year!
This article originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of Mobility Management.