Invacare at 40: This year is all about technology

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Friday, January 24, 2020

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare, which marks 40 years in business in 2020, is not the company it used to be—and, in many ways, that’s a good thing, company officials say.

Invacare is operating in an HME industry that looks nothing like it did in 1979, when Mal Mixon and a small group of investors purchased the company. Medicare’s competitive bidding program, first rolled out in 2011, has sent shockwaves through the industry in the past decade, and Invacare was not spared.

“Before competitive bidding, we were billing to addresses exceeding 10,000—there were that many strong suppliers,” said Matt Monaghan, chairman, president and CEO. “When reimbursement went down 50%, they shifted to cheaper products. They liked the convenience of dealing with Invacare and they liked our premium products, but with the reduction, they had to look elsewhere. They found other sources for products like walkers and canes.”

Then, amid the bid program’s roll out, Invacare announced in 2012 a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that limited its ability to manufacture and sell certain products from its corporate headquarters and Taylor Street facility. Just like that, $130 million in revenue disappeared.

Monaghan joined the company in 2015, charged with getting Invacare’s balance sheet in order—more in response to the new bid-influenced landscape than the consent decree.

“Some people thought, ‘Fix the consent decree and everything goes back to the way it was,’” he said. “But nothing was going back to the way it was; that industry was gone.”

Under Monaghan’s leadership, Invacare began to sell off certain businesses and to strategically streamline its portfolio, focusing on premium specialized products—like its Platinum Mobile Oxygen Concentrator with Connectivity, and its TDX SP2 Power Wheelchair with LiNX Technology.

“Now providers want to come back to Invacare because they know the price they’re paying is worth the value,” Monaghan said.

More recently, in 2019, Invacare signed a contract with Birlasoft to take over and modernize its IT system, including developing a new e-commerce portal for customers to access products and supplies—a change that will make Invacare easier to do business with, company officials say.

“We’ve asked customers to do things that they shouldn’t have to do to place orders,” said Angela Goodwin, chief information tech officer. “The overall goal is: One order, one package, one invoice. If you want a product from Invacare, you can order it from a beach in the Bahamas.”

While Invacare has evolved out of necessity, the same mission and the same values continue to hum below the surface. That it’s a company focused on innovating—Invacare and its subsidiaries have more than a dozen product launches planned for 2020—and on empowering people to live as independently as possible. Its “Yes, You Can” tagline still applies as much today as it did in 1998 when it debuted, Monaghan says.

“We’re keeping that promise to end users and providers,” he said.