Saturday, July 19, 2014

Innovating Home Medical Equipment: Who experiences the burden of poor design?

I've been struck by the fact that improving home medical equipment is not as easy as it would seem it should be. Have come to think that this might be partially explained by the fact that the world of HME falls into the domain of low-paid workers and unpaid family/friends, which means the burden of poor design is experienced by those with the functional limitations and their caregivers. Improving the design of HME has not been seen as yielding any value to a hospital or a physician's practice. That means that is it very hard to persuade existing HME companies to take on any risk for introducing such innovations.

Yet, seems like the environment is changing in ways very favorable to getting a toileting improvement to market.

The Accountable Care Act is changing the incentives for providers and health plans. The smart ones will realize that HME is their "last mile" for reaching patients to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and ED visits, support telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, and keep the mobility challenged with chronic conditions well and at home. Improved HME design will also provide respite to both paid and unpaid caregivers as users are better able to manage their assistive devices for themselves. And there will be plenty of work to go around as we baby boomers age; in fact, we will need this type of self-managed equipment to be able to handle the growing demand for caregiving.

Over the next weeks and months, I'll be posting short reports of our progress. Stay tuned,

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