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Demand continues to soar in bariatric market

Demand continues to soar in bariatric market

America is not getting any thinner. As a result, demand for bariatric-grade home medical equipment products continue to soar, manufacturers in the field say. 

A September 2022 report by Trust for America’s Health shows four in 10 Americans are clinically obese and obesity rates are climbing nationwide and within population groups. The report finds that persistent increases in obesity rates across population groups underscores that obesity is caused by a number of factors and authors conclude that addressing the issue will require studying the economic and structural factors of where people live. 

Nineteen states have adult obesity rates over 35%. West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama have the highest rate of adult obesity at approximately 40%. The District of Columbia, Hawaii and Colorado had the lowest adult obesity rates that hover around 25%. 

This information has gotten the attention of Duryea, Pa.-based Pride Mobility/Quantum Rehab, which is reaching out to all market players for ideas to best accommodate bariatric patients, said Jay Brislin, vice president of Quantum. 

“Researchers continue to expect the bariatric population to show upward growth within our industry,” he said. “HME providers and clinicians alike consistently provide feedback and suggestions to us, along with other manufacturers, on how they are servicing more and more clients with bariatric equipment. We have a strong focus at Pride and Quantum to further develop an already robust line of bariatric products with more advancements and innovations. This is a market that keeps changing and requires more attention for technology advancements for clients.” 

Angela Regier, senior portfolio marketing manager for Lebanon, Tenn.-based Permobil, added that  

an “in between” population that falls between standard and bariatric sizes has gained increased attention by the industry. 

“In 2022, we increased the user weight capacity from 300 to 330 pounds for our Corpus wheelchairs, so these clients don’t have to choose a larger base with fewer power seating options,” she said.  

Old Forge, Pa.-based Golden Technologies is also using the strong market demand to redesign and improve their bariatric mobility line, said Chris Carroll, director of marketing. 

“We see our retailers continuing to offer customer favorites in our longstanding line of extra-wide power lift recliners and the demand is as strong as ever,” Carroll said. “We’ve redesigned these models to add both comfort and value with features like our signature seat, extended arms to provide better utility while entering and exiting the chair while lifted, a new arm style with plush padding, a refreshed seamed back design, and luxurious chenille fabrics.” 

Bariatric strategy 

Clients considered “bariatric” have unique needs and therefore HME providers need to offer a full line of possible solutions, said Nicole LaBerge, portfolio marketing manager for Permobil. 

To meet those needs, she recommends providers offer “mobility solutions as well as seating and positioning for these clients.” 

Brislin contends that although many providers offer a full range of products, “the bariatric market segment does continue to be specialized. Some providers may only offer DME while others may offer combinations of DME, power/manual mobility, and complex power/manual mobility. Based on the equipment needs for a client, it would come to researching providers within the area of need.” 

Understanding the needs of the clients within the bariatric market is essential, Brislin said.  

“Based on these needs, many other factors play into the decision for providing the best equipment possible,” he said. “Because we are dealing with equipment designed with 300-pound to 600-pound capacities, these products tend to be larger or potentially heavier than counterpart equipment rated at 300 pounds or below. So, in addition to the many factors a provider needs to consider for all clients, we must pay closer attention to the client’s ability to use certain products within their environment and home to get the best outcome.” 

HME providers also need to educate themselves on specialty products and how to market them, Carroll said. 

“A power lift recliner helps patients maintain their independence and dignity, making it easier to rise from the chair or sit back in the chair, so they can go about their day,” she said. “Lift recliners are often used for more than just the occasional nap. Many patients rely on them as the only place they can be comfortable enough to get truly restorative sleep. With that in mind, we design our chairs with ultimate comfort features and make them with the best quality materials and construction in the industry.” 

Referrals & resources 

Bariatric patients are served by a litany of healthcare agencies. Including adult rehab hospitals, skilled nursing centers, community rehab centers and the Veteran’s Administration. Brislin said. 

“Providers can research these facilities within their community and reach out to them to understand this population’s needs and how to best service them,” he said. 

To help providers promote their bariatric products and services, Golden offers free marketing and merchandising kits, social media images and content, as well as webinars and personalized consultation on how to best market the company’s line of products, Carroll said.


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