Medtrade Spring Notebook: 'Buying is back'

Thursday, May 13, 2010

LAS VEGAS - The footprint of the show last week was smaller, yes, but the traffic at Medtrade Spring was good. Exhibitors acknowledge that there were fewer attendees, but they say they're "quality" attendees. One exhibitor even said, "buying is back."

For the first time, we've had quite a few providers sitting in the hot seat, so to speak, for HME News TV: Michael Calcaterra from Norco, Carlia Cichon from Advent, Tammy Zelenko from AdvaCare and Rob Brant from City Medical Services. Calcaterra talked about the need for providers, even rural providers like him, to fight competitive bidding. Cichon talked about coming to Las Vegas this year with one of her patients, who is in a complex wheelchair and on a vent. Zelenko talked about her commitment to growth, even in these tough times. And Brant talked about how far the industry has come, when it comes to lobbying, and what it needs to do next. Keep an eye out for these interviews and more on HME News TV in the coming weeks.

Circadiance is going gangbusters, says Bruce Benner, vice president of sales. The company makes cloth CPAP masks. In a year and a half, Circadiance has grown from a one-man show--engineer Dave Groll--to a staff of 12 and a network of 46 sales reps. Benner says one provider tried the masks on 50 patients who had quit CPAP and 25 of them went back on with the masks.

Here's a fun fact: Vitalwear, which manufactures a water circulating heat therapy device, has an equine division. Howard Edelman, president and CEO, says horse trainers use the devices instead of drugs for therapy. "There are more horses kicked out of the Olympics than athletes," he said. As far as the HME industry goes, Edelman says diabetes providers supply the devices because a lot of diabetics have rheumatoid arthritis. The devices are reimbursed by Medicare: E0217, $440 to $520.

Provider Rick Watkins stopped by our booth to say that providers from all over the country called him after they read this story in HME News about providers struggling to get their Medicare numbers back from the National Supplier Clearinghouse (NSC).

SeQual has a cool new tool that helps providers determine what setting they should put patients on when they transition from continuous flow to pulse dose. Using the right setting can, among other things, help a provider and patient extend the device's battery life, says Simon Johnson, director of global product marketing.

Shoprider and evo are starting in-house leasing programs for their provider customers, company officials said.

Here's a sad fact: 50% of the orders that Invacare Supply Group receives are still sent in by fax, says Greg Bosco, vice president of sales and marketing. ISG news: The company has started building Web sites for its provider customers. It's working on 12 Web sites right now and it has more under contract.