Training gives providers leg up

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Increased awareness of the benefits of compression therapy is creating a growth opportunity for providers.

As many as 40 million Americans have varicose veins, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. By age 50, 40% of women and 20% of men have significant leg vein problems.

Yet, “not too many companies deal with compression,” said Theresa Kelly, Allied Medical Supply in Orange, Calif. “They don’t go with the higher grade or custom products, which we do a lot of.”

Kelly recently became a certified fitter through a training seminar held by Sigvaris.

Proper fitting is important, says Judith Brannan, U.S. education manager for Sigvaris.

“If a customer receives an ill-fitting garment, they may become discouraged with wearing it,” she said. “That translates to poorer health for the patient and lost dollars for the provider.”

Leg vein problems are often chronic, and may go undiagnosed, says Sigvaris’ Lisa Wells. Often, consumers don’t know they are good candidates for compression therapy.

“They don’t realize they have early-stage venous disease, but they do know they are suffering from tired, achy legs or swollen ankles,” said Wells, North America product manager.

The manufacturer partners with providers to promote Healthy Leg Days and conduct physician outreach, something provider Nickie Miller says is necessary.

“I still find a lot of doctors don’t know they can prescribe compression stockings or sleeves for their patients with certain medical problems,” said Miller, owner of Fittings by Nickie in Phoenix, Ariz. “It helps the doctors to know what all the products are so the patient can have a better and healthier life.”

Products range from non-prescription cash items to higher level goods that are often reimbursed by insurance, says Wells. Many of the products are as stylish as non-medical hosiery, she said.

“It’s not your grandmother’s support hose,” said Wells.