U.S. Rehab: TV spots emphasize credentials

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WATERLOO, Iowa - U.S. Rehab members now have the opportunity, through a new service, to place television and newspaper ads that will go head-to-head with commercials that entice consumers to buy wheelchairs and scooters over the phone or online.
The ads will promote local rehab providers that employ staff who are registered with the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers or certified by the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America. (NRRTS or RESNA is a requirement of U.S. Rehab membership.)
"We just wanted to drive them to the professionals--the qualified, certified dealer," said Jerry Keiderling, vice president of U.S. Rehab. "There are so many people that are buying off the Internet and getting a box shipped to them, and it's just not right. Not that we're slamming anybody. We just want to do the opposite."
After presenting the idea to members at Medtrade in October, U.S. Rehab has 17 rehab providers signed on for the new service. In "a kind of co-op deal," U.S. Rehab has created the ads, but providers are working with the contracted creative agency to develop customized "tags" and buy space.
The ads will feature consumers participating in activities that wouldn't be possible without qualified professionals providing the right rehab equipment, Keiderling said.
"The one in particular that I like deals with all aspects of our industry--the elderly, the young, manual, power," he said. "The country needs to know that, even though Medicare won't provide a certain wheelchair with a seat elevator, it is available, if you want to pay for it and you can physically handle it."
The ads will also feature a phone number that consumers can call for referrals to their local providers. In the event that two providers from the same area sign on for the service, U.S. Rehab will assign different numbers to the commercials, Keiderling said.
The time is right for rehab providers to boast their qualifications, with everything that's going on in the industry, Keiderling said.
"Rehab has always wanted to and strived toward becoming professional," Keiderling said. "I think it's starting to move that way in several different atmospheres. NRRTS, RESNA and the providers are all waking up to that."