New products

Sunday, October 31, 2004

ELYRIA, Ohio - Invacare has lightened the weight of the Venture Homefill II’s portable oxygen tank to 3.6 pounds and come up with a new portable power wheelchair that charts a middle-ground between scooters and power chairs. These two products headline a suite of 40 new products that debuted at this year’s Medtrade.

Invacare is billing its At’m (as in “up and at ‘em”) power chair as “the only truly take-along chair.” The chair disassembles into three pieces - a base that weighs 34 pounds, an upholstered frame that weighs 14 pounds and a pair of 17-amp batteries that weigh 17 pounds each.

With a 250-pound user weight capacity, the ‘soft rehab’ chair comes onto the market with a retail price point of about $3,000. Compare that, says Invacare, with a lift-equipped van that costs ten times as much.

In the respiratory market, Invacare is responding to patients who want smaller, longer-lasting tanks with the ML4 portable tank. The new 3.6-pound bottle is two inches shorter than its predecessor and lasts 4.5 hours on its new conserving device when set for 20 breaths per minute and a two lpm-equivalnt flow rate.

The previous Homefill bottle, the ML6, weighed 4.3 pounds and lasted five hours at the same rate. Invacare reduced the weight by making the bottle smaller and re-engineering ounces out of the conserver, according to Scott Wilkinson, Invacare’s group product manager for oxygen therapy.

While the conserving ratio for the ML6 was 3.7:1, the ML4 ratio is 5:1.

The company continues to pin high hopes on the Homefill II even as reimbursement for home oxygen is threatened by a cut mandated by the MMA this year and by the advent of competitive bidding in 2007.

“Three years from now, you’re not going to see trucks driving oxygen to the home,” said Lou Slangen, senior vice president of worldwide market development.

Also in respiratory, which account for 11% of Invacare’s total revenues, the company is rolling out a 10-liter oxygen concentrator.

In rehab (36% of revenues), 2004 marks a new first for Invacare in premium power seating products. The Formula power seating product improves upon by its Tarsus predecessor by lowering seat-to-floor height to 16.5-inches and boosting weight capacity from 275 pounds to 375. The new TRE feature provides six combinations of tilt, recline and elevate.