Melio hits market with smart leg bag

Friday, April 3, 2015

LAS VEGAS – Melio, maker of a non-proprietary, self-emptying leg bag system for catheters, launched on U.S. soil at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas last week.

The Liverpool, England-based company launched in the U.S. because of its more advanced distribution network and reimbursement structure, says CEO Matt Pearce.

“You have six or seven very large DME providers and a whole network of smaller regional providers,” he said. “There are also reimbursed codes for products like this.”

The system was created by Trevor Wills, an electrical engineer, for his father, a stroke victim. The key: a sensor in the bag that sends a signal to a controller on the user’s waistband when the bag is two-thirds full. With the push of a button, the controller activates a small electric pump that empties the bag through an extended discharge tube. The user can tuck the tube into his or her waistbands for easy access.

Melio fills a void in the market for a system that allows catheter users, who often have limited mobility and dexterity, to empty their bags without the help of a caregiver, Pearce says.

“Many users have had spinal cord injuries—they can’t bend over and empty their bags,” he said. “So they rely on caregivers to empty them, and that affects their dignity and independence.”

When you make it easier for users to empty their bags, you also help them avoid complications—a nervous system disease caused by the leg bag overfilling and the catheter blocking; or a UTI from reduced water intake from fear of overfilling, Pearce says.

“It takes away that fear,” he said.

Melio’s plan at Medtrade Spring was to get HME providers to add the system to their product mix—the controller is a cash purchase, but two leg bags per month are reimbursed by Medicare, Pearce says.

“We package the bags as a replenishment pack,” he said. “In there is everything they need—two leg bags, nighttime bags, straps, connectors.”

It’d be a smart move for providers to pick up the system, says Lisa Wells, president of Get Social Consulting, which is working with Melio. An article about the system that she posted to wheel:life, an online community for wheelchair users, got more than 500 click-throughs in two weeks, she says.

“The interest level is definitely there,” she said.