Skip to Content

Complex rehab is ‘beyond challenging’ right now

Complex rehab is ‘beyond challenging’ right now

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Arguably all HME providers have been impacted by supply chain constraints, but complex rehab providers have had additional complexities to contend with, they say. 

“The typical complex rehab product that we provide has components from three to five manufacturers,” said Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. “It may have a base from one manufacturer and a custom molded seat from a different manufacturer. The number of cases where we’re waiting for this one component to be able to deliver a chair is record high. It’s beyond challenging.” 

Numotion says about 25% of orders are being delayed 17 days or longer. 

Standard sticking point 

Complex rehab providers are also experiencing more traditional delays for products like standard power wheelchairs and scooters, which are more likely to be imported nearly fully assembled from Asia and take up more room in costly containers. 

“The cDarren Lowmanomplex rehab industry has been experiencing a number of supply chain challenges some of which include a general lengthening of product lead times due to manufacturer labor constraints and spotty supply issues and even longer product delays for those products largely manufactured in Asia, where ocean freight challenges are impactful,” said Darren Lowman, chief supply chain officer for National Seating & Mobility. “The longest lead times presently tend to be within two categories, standard power and scooter products, and manual wheelchairs.” 

Compounding challenges 

The delays caused by supply chain constraints have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and labor shortages. Numotion reports insurers are short staffed, significantly increasing the amount of time it takes to move through the prior authorization process required for many complex rehab products.  

“We went to a number of health plans in Q4 and asked them if they would consider extending out-of-pocket expenses into Q1, knowing how many customers have been impacted trying to get their products by the end of the year,” Swinford said. “We’ve put together talking points for our customers to go to their plan and ask for exceptions, and we’ve put together different options for customers, including out-of-pocket financing.” 

Pivotal pivots 

Numotion is taking a number of steps to speed up the process, including shifting to products from different manufacturers, even in the middle of an order if need be, Swinford says. 

“We’re trying to stay as flexible as we can,” he said. “Even when an order is 80% through the process, we might change to a different componentry. We continually communicate with the user throughout the process on alternatives and what we’re doing to resolve issues with delays.” 

Communication and collaboration 

Communication, collaboration and transparency are key, says Lowman, not only with customers but also with manufacturers. 

“Our strategy for 2022 is focused on collaborating with our suppliers/manufacturers to better forecast our needs and ensure the timely flow of their products and parts,” he said. “It also includes being very transparent with our clients about the timing impacts of certain product selections. We have always valued clinical autonomy, ensuring that client needs and outcomes are paramount in product selection. Going forward, we will have the added complexity of timing and availability of products and parts, while continuing to meet our clients’ needs for their mobility solutions to ensure the best outcomes.” 


To comment on this post, please log in to your account or set up an account now.