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Patients need tech that ‘grows’ with them

Patients need tech that ‘grows’ with them

The pediatric market has several facets to distinguish it from other HME categories, but none more than the need for equipment patients can continue to use as they grow. Having a product that “grows” along with them – especially from an early age – enables pediatric patients to retain familiarity and comfort instead of constantly adjusting to new technology, market specialists say. 

“The products that are most desired early in a child’s life are those that provide independent mobility options as well as experience in developmental positions such as standing or prone positioning,” said Amy Morgan, director of product management, power products, at Lebanon, Tenn.-based Permobil. “These positions have a strong correlation to the development of critical postural muscles, skeletal maturation, and provide sensory experiences that help with overall development.” 

Alex Chesney, clinical sales manager of the Midwest South Region for Duryea, Pa.-based Quantum Rehab, contends that “pediatric technology is always advancing” and that in the power mobility and seating sector, creating products that grow with patients “is always at the forefront of our minds,” she said. 

Chesney cited Quantum’s Stretto Edge 3 as an example of how slightly smaller drive tires and base width can improve performance specially designed for pediatric patients. 

“This technology is important to allow better self-perception and body awareness within a base more sized for pediatric clients along with access to tighter or more compact areas like a school restroom, crowded hallways, and friends’ houses,” she said. “Having a narrower base does not compromise on performance in suspension, speed, or accessibility of various environments including the playground, sports fields and backyards.” 

This is a base meant to grow through a child’s exploration and development in various environments and stages, Chesney said.  

“Besides the base, the seating system can accommodate a broad sizing range and is easily modified for growth changes in width and depth over time,” she said. 

Navigating funding 

Finding funding from Medicaid and private payers can be a maze of coverage discrepancies, frustrating families and providers alike. Knowing state Medicaid guidelines is paramount to navigating these challenges, said Jerry Morgan, rehab product specialist for Quantum. 

“Knowing exactly what the payer will cover for growth in an existing wheelchair is imperative,” he said. “Some states will pay for gait trainers and standing frames and some will not. Providers cannot afford to be making multiple free trips out to grow chairs or adapt seating.” 

Hosting special promotional events like “tune up day” brings in clients for chair inspections, which “can lead to more sales and billable items without all the costs of going to see patients individually,” he said. 

Amy Morgan adds: “Working with clinicians who have experience documenting the need for various pieces of equipment is extremely beneficial when navigating the funding process. Permobil offers funding guides and justification documents that can be used by both families and clinicians to help (explore options).” 

Versatility needed 

Serving the pediatric market requires a comprehensive, rather than a piecemeal approach, manufacturers say. Offering the widest array of products and services is most beneficial for patients and their families because they can deal with a single provider, rather than a group. 

“Most children who require equipment need so many different types that providers who offer the continuum of products have an advantage over others just specializing in one type,” Amy Morgan said. “This also helps keep it simple for the families and allows providers to build that relationship.” 

To be sure, providers that service the pediatric market need versatility in their offerings, Jerry Morgan said.  

“The rehab company that supports this population must be able to be able to handle different pieces of equipment,” he said. “Most of these children who need mobility devices also need other AT equipment such as standing frames, gait trainers, adaptive bathing equipment and age-appropriate beds. This would be the case for a child who needs power or manual mobility.”  

Finding advocates 

The support community for pediatric patients is vast and diverse, serving an integral role in juvenile health care, both Morgans say. 

“The biggest clinical advocates for the pediatric population in the beginning will be the early intervention team of therapists and specialists that are with these kiddos from birth until transition to Pre-K,” Jerry said. “This group will be recommending equipment and technology needs for each child. This will hopefully introduce these patients to things like standing or mobility, with milestones compared to an able-bodied child. 

“With technology now, parents are advocating for themselves more than ever,” he continued. “There is a support group for children with just about every diagnosis now, where parents from all over can communicate with each other on what works for them.”  

Diagnosis-based groups have proven to be invaluable for families seeking advice or support for their child requiring adaptations, Amy said. “These groups have community members who are willing to share experiences and ideas for individual modifications to some equipment options as well.”


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