Feel at home on the show floor

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ATLANTA - A house is literally taking up residence on the Medtrade show floor this year.

Known as the NextGen National In-Home Healthcare Demonstration Home, the 1,650-square-foot exhibit is designed to give HME providers a brick-and-mortar example of medical equipment in the home. Sponsors say the exhibit will feature a series of "typical" in-home healthcare scenarios along with "state of the art" equipment from a host of manufacturers.

The exhibit is a partnership between Medtrade and Bellevue, Wash.-based iShow, producers of the NextGen Home Experience. In all, 26 companies have signed on as sponsors.

Offering providers a three-dimensional holistic view of equipment functioning inside the home should spark some ideas about new business opportunities, said Don Everard, CEO of Algona, Wash.-based EZ Access, a sponsor of the exhibit.

"We believe this venue allows the dealers to see new product areas they can expand into, besides the typical DME equipment, in a setting that they can then connect with the manufacturers," he said.

Along with the in-home healthcare solutions, the NextGen Home will present the latest in mobility, digital health and telemedicine products to provide a complete overview of home-centric health care for both industry professionals and consumers.

Jerry Keiderling, president of Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM's US Rehab division, says the display will in fact be a real home, fully furnished. Show attendees will be able to see the products displayed in their intended manner while learning about the concept of "aging in place" and how homes will be equipped in the future. VGM is a sponsor of the exhibit.

"The attitude toward 'aging in place' and independent living is growing stronger every day, especially with the onset of the boomer generation," Keiderling said. "As a whole, we would much prefer to live in and be cared for in our own homes than in a facility setting."

While the simulated home is new to Medtrade, it has actually appeared at trade shows for other industries, such as construction, housewares and electronics, said Paul Barnett, president of iShow. The model actually resembles a typical house and its presence will alter the show floor landscape, he said.

"There is something about coming into a house with a roof and windows that makes for a very real experience," he said. "It will be very powerful when people come in and tour the home."

Show director Kevin Gaffney knew about iShow's experience in exhibiting the home at other major shows, such as the Consumer Electronics Show and the International Builder's Show, and thought it was a natural fit for the HME industry.

"Even though they didn't know the home healthcare industry specifically, we have helped them with the scenarios for the home," he said.

Besides serving as an idea center for HME business opportunities, the home will also have an impact on the general public. Barnett expects the consumer reach to be "tens of millions" through the media and Internet.

"The storytelling of the NextGen house will continue long after Medtrade closes," he said. "This is a golden opportunity for the industry to get the message out about the valuable role it serves to the public."