Vendors target mobility for cash sales

Friday, October 19, 2012

ATLANTA – Invacare believes it has just the thing for beleaguered providers of standard power wheelchairs.
The manufacturer at Medtrade last week debuted its Pronto Air Personal Transporter, a standard power wheelchair that has no code and sells for cash.

“We decided not to code this product because we believe there is another revenue stream for our providers—the retail cash segment—and we want to help them get into that revenue stream,” said Julie Jackson, director of the Mobility and Seating Business Unit at Invacare.

Features of the Pronto Air, which has an MSRP of $3,999, include breathable upholstery, adjustable headrest and armrests, a reclining back, and a 250-pound weight capacity. It disassembles into three components for portability: base (75 pounds), seat (55 pounds) and battery (30 pounds). It comes in one color: silver.

Jackson says difficult changes to documentation requirements and reimbursement for standard power wheelchairs had everything to do with Invacare’s decision to make the Pronto Air a cash product. (Those changes have not only affected providers. In its second quarter earnings report, Invacare blamed “slowness” in power wheelchairs sales, in part, for a 7.4% decrease in net sales for HME in North America).

“We do think we’ll see more of these types of products, and we saw the Pronto Air as a good starting point for the mobility and seating segment,” she said.

Of course, Invacare’s not the only manufacturer targeting cash products for the mobility market. About a year ago, both Golden Technologies and Drive Medical debuted non-coded wheelchairs and scooters: the Lite Rider PTC and the Bobcat, respectively. This year, Drive Medical also debuted a non-coded manual wheelchair called the Rebel.

“We’ve had a very positive response to it,” said Pat O’Brien, director of marketing at Golden Technologies. “Because it’s not coded, providers can charge what works for them based on their purchase price. They have room to have a sale and still make a good profit.”

Drive Medical has also had success with its scooter, but the manufacturer believes providers can always do more to leverage cash sales.

“We all have these Medicare blinders on, calling patients patients, not customers,” said Doug Francis, principal and co-founder of Drive Medical. “We’d like to think a lot more providers could capitalize on retail.”