DALLAS – Echoing the predictions of many experts, a Texas-based market research firm is forecasting 8.2% annual growth in U.S. demand for HME. RnR Market Research predicts a $12.6 billion dollar industry by 2018, with the single digit growth up to and beyond that timeframe.
Advances in the technological capabilities of products such as portable oxygen concentrators, remote telemedicine systems, and home dialysis machines will underlie growth. “The introduction of new and improved devices and equipment will expand the number of medical conditions and patients adaptable to effective home treatment, management, and monitoring,” write researchers. “Cost saving advantages will promote the increasing substitution of home health care for hospital, ambulatory, and nursing home procedures whenever feasible.”
“These findings are another clear indicator that innovation is going to equal success in our industry,” says Tom Ryan (pictured, upper left, at last month’s Medtrade Spring), president and CEO, American Association for Homecare. “While AAHomecare has not yet read the full report, it is no secret that technology is revolutionizing HME and that demand is going to quickly expand as more patients seek cost-effective home alternatives to hospitals and nursing homes. The best opportunity to see that technology, and network with the successful leaders in what is clearly a growth market, remains Medtrade. This report is absolutely a testament to the importance of this show moving forward.”
RnR reports that a rising prevalence of chronic conditions, especially respiratory disorders, kidney failure, and cancer, will boost demand for home therapeutic equipment. According to the report, “Portable oxygen concentrators for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) products for managing obstructive sleep apnea, and ventilators and accessories for alleviating severe breathing impairments will exhibit the fastest growing sales among home respiratory therapy equipment.”
Georgie Blackburn, vice president, Government Relations and Legislative Affairs, BLACKBURN’S, believes the increased demand will drive the need for “formidable, educated suppliers” who are committed to providing high level patient care. “Being able to provide data to referring and paying providers underscores the importance of outcome management and the part we play in the continuum of care,” she says. “Attending Medtrade is the most time-efficient and cost-effective way to gain the information we need to thrive.”
And yet, while demand is big and getting bigger, Jeffrey S. Baird (shown here at the Medtrade Spring Power Lunch), JD, cautions that providers do not have the luxury of being on auto pilot. “Providers are going to have to work hard, and be smart, to make money,” says Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group, Brown & Fortunato. “The days of simply opening our door and letting a Medicare patient walk in are long gone.”
Far from being on the outside looking in, Bob Fary, vice president of Strategic Alliances, Inogen, believes the report reinforces the notion that the industry should continue to market itself as a solution to health care woes. “The most cost-effective place to care for individuals with chronic illness is the home,” says Fary. “The industry, including the innovators, know this and are reacting predictably. This reinforces the need for the home care provider as a key player in the national health care system. This also drives home the value of the Medtrade Spring and Medtrade conferences, and of the American Association for Homecare.”
“This confirms my constant belief that our industry has a very bright future for those who are smart enough and flexible enough to make the necessary changes in sales, marketing and distribution methods that will allow them to keep up with that growth,” adds Mike Hamilton, executive director, Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association. “Some products are very likely to mimic the Amazon model, while others will always require a personal touch, meaning local businesses, with well qualified staff, who charge and collect fair prices from whoever pays for the necessary service component.”