Reporter's notebook: The year in most read stories
YARMOUTH, Maine – All eyes were on the big guns—Drive Medical, Invacare, Inogen and ResMed—in 2015.
Or so it would appear, according to the five most read vendor stories for the year.
Drive Medical took the No. 1 spot with its acquisition of DeVilbiss Healthcare. This deal culminated a busy 2015 for Drive: It had already made a handful of other deals throughout the year. With DeVilbiss and some of the other acquisitions it has made in the rehab market, Drive is clearly trying to up its clinical game. That’s also what happens when you pick up a guy like Joseph Lewarski and make him global vice president of respiratory & sleep.
Speaking of Lewarski, it wouldn’t be a list of most read vendor stories without a story about Invacare, his former employer. It’s just too bad the story wasn’t “Invacare lifts consent decree.” Instead, at the No. 2 spot, it’s “New product readies Invacare for comeback.” The company has been busy putting its ducks in a row for a life post-decree (receiving approval for an upgrade to its TDX line of power wheelchairs and beefing up its sales force), but until it can take that huge weight off its shoulders…well, there’s only so much it can do.
Invacare also took the No. 4 spot with “Invacare’s Monaghan takes control.” Monaghan, the newly minted president and CEO, personally headed up the company’s beleaguered North America HME business on an interim basis. Later in the year, he passed the baton to Dean Childers, who took the role of senior vice president and general manager of the North America HME and Institutional Products Group businesses. Monaghan has since also added chairman of Invacare’s board of directors to his resume.
Coming in at the No. 3 spot was Inogen (“What’s the hold up at Inogen?”). Not unlike Invacare, Inogen endured some scrutiny in 2015. It had to delay reporting its fourth quarter and year-end earnings because management discovered “certain potential accounting matters” during the first quarter of 2015. After an internal investigation, however, the company characterized the matter as minor and reported it had minimal impact on earnings (it reduced net revenue for the fourth quarter by $300,000 and net income by $100,000). Still, readers likely couldn’t resist a story about a direct-to-consumer manufacturer and five sales reps who “falsified or improperly modified sales and rental order documentation.”
ResMed took the No. 5 spot with “ResMed bets on healthcare informatics.” This has been a big push for ResMed in 2015 and likely for years to come. There’s a virtual arms race between the vendors in this space—like in no other space of HME, I think—to make devices that not only look slick but also have support tools that make it easier for HME providers and their patients to use them and keep using them. Think compliance and monitoring management systems and user-friendly apps. Where will these vendors go next?