Doing what your tech-savvy customers want

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11/08/2016

We’ve spilled a lot of ink this year—online and in print—on the increasingly connected sleep therapy market, and with good reason.

Companies like ResMed and Philips Respironics are leading the way there, with CPAP devices that connect to software programs that allow providers to monitor the therapy of their patients remotely. They also have accompanying programs and apps that allow the patients themselves to play a more active role in their therapies.

This has now laid the groundwork for adding connected capabilities to other respiratory-related products, like portable oxygen concentrators and ventilators.

It should have been obvious, but it didn’t dawn on me until Medtrade that there are advances being made in this area in other markets of the HME industry, as well.

I was visiting Quantum Rehab’s booth at the show and Jay Brislin, the company’s vice president, was telling a group of reporters from industry trade pubs, including me, about the increasingly “smart” and connected capabilities of its complex power wheelchairs.

It’s still early days, but examples of that include a control panel with an LED screen that allows clinicians to program up to 15 different functions, including a warning when a patient has tilted too much; and Bluetooth connectivity, making much of a clinician’s job wireless.

Pretty awesome, right?

Naturally, when talking about technologies like these, the topic of reimbursement comes up, but Brislin is mostly undeterred. He likened the situation to when tilt-and-recline was new and not funded, but after it transitioned from a want to a need, it became funded.

“You need to be customer-centric,” he said. “You have to do what the customer wants.”

Quantum Rehab has taken a similar approach to its iLevel Power Chairs, which allow operation with seat elevation up to 10 inches while at a walking speed of up to 3.5 mph. The company has had some success working with clinicians and private payers to get the chairs funded, working toward what it hopes will be more widespread funding.

The response to Quantum Rehab’s approach to the market, especially from the perspective of increasingly tech-savvy consumers, has been phenomenal, Brislin says. He recounted a story about how he performed several fittings for iLevel Power Chairs recently where the consumers pursued the technology after seeing it on Facebook.

“In my 16-year career, I haven’t seen customers so knowledgeable about the products, and they picked ours,” he said.