On face value, incontinence seems to be a pretty straightforward product category in the HME market.
After a trip to Medline’s booth at Medtrade, however, I’m not so sure.
I met Bill Bowser there, who’s the director of sales for the company’s Personal Care division.
He told me a story about a woman who combed the Internet to get his phone number at work, called him and told him her mother was using Medline’s briefs and they were awful. She said they were leaking all over the place.
Bowser asked the woman what size briefs her mother was wearing. The woman said XL. He then asked her the height and weight of her mother. She said five feet four inches tall and 140 pounds.
Apparently, the hospital sent the mother home with that size brief, so the woman assumed it was appropriate (It turns out hospitals could use a little education about incontinence products, too, but more on that later).
Bowser recommended a medium and gave the woman his cell phone number, so she could give him an update in a few days.
“She called and said, ‘This is awesome!’” he said.
Bowser was talking about this to begin with because Medline has put together a packet of educational materials for providers to use with their patients. There’s a sell sheet and a product guide. There’s also access to a 12-minute webcast (Providers can set up a laptop or TV in their showrooms, so patients can watch, too).
I wonder: Where did the woman get these briefs for her mother? From a trip to Walmart? If so, this story creates a strong case for why patients should buy products, even those that may seem straightforward, from educated HME providers.
Bowser had another story for me, one straight from the show floor. Two parents stopped by the booth to talk about their 19-year-old daughter, who is disabled. It turns out she is using a brief, when she could be using a bladder control pad, which is more comfortable and less expensive.
“I feel like, ‘I changed someone’s life today,’” he said.