Sunrise Medical refocuses on complex rehab

Sunday, May 3, 2009

LONGMONT, Colo. - Sunrise Medical has decided it's no longer worth the trouble to compete in the Group 2 power wheelchair market.

"We have voluntarily chosen to exit Group 2, mostly because we didn't feel we were adding value to what has become a price-point only product," said Julie Jacono, vice president of power mobility.

With its move away from Group 2--and the recent sale of the Guardian line of bath safety and walking aids to Medline--Sunrise will now refocus resources on Group 3 power wheelchairs, complex manual wheelchairs and seating--its core competencies, said Michael Proffitt, Sunrise's vice president of marketing and product management.

Specifically, that means building new chairs and consolidating its existing Group 3 products so that they fit into current reimbursement levels and offer "a very good value to our dealers," Jacono said.

In Group 3, the company launched one chair earlier this year (the Quickie Pulse 6) and discontinued eight to 10 models.

"We had to take a hard look and understand that there is a following to some of these products," Jacono said. "We have had some very difficult conversations with some consumers, but it gets to a point where it is no longer cost effective to have a such a diversified power portfolio."

Tim Pederson, CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D., called Sunrise's new Pulse 6 Group 3 power wheelchair "nice and compact.' But, he added, "it doesn't have a lot of applications."

That's by design, said Jacono, who described the Pulse 6 as appropriate for indoor and moderate outdoor use.

"This is a reliable, durable base," she said. "It's easy to maintain and service, and it's competitively priced. That's what the market is telling us it wants."