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Technology, advocacy drive pediatric market

Technology, advocacy drive pediatric market

A core aim of pediatrics has always been to provide equipment that “grows” along with patients, and that mission has become more important than ever due to the reimbursement climate, experts say. 

Ian Hendry, Leckey sales director at Fresno, Calif.-based Sunrise Medical, explains that pediatric equipment has always been required to grow with the child for funding and insurance purposes. Due to the relatively small nature of the pediatric market, R&D investments often follow well-established technology developed for the adult rehab market. 

“This may be through inserts or built-in growth adjustments inherent in the equipment, typically allowing between three to five years of growth,” he said. “As the child grows, the equipment should not only support the child from a clinical and postural angle, but also where they can function to the best of their abilities to play, communicate, feed or be at rest – to thrive.” 

Hendry sees two main technological developments taking place. First is smart technology on equipment to manage, measure and provide data for outcome measures to justify equipment purchases to funding bodies.  

“For example, later this year Leckey will launch the updated MyWay+ Pedal app that connects via Bluetooth to measure and set goals for users to develop their walking skills and stamina,” he said. “It can also be used as an electronic data record for the PT to share with funding bodies to help justify purchasing the Pedal accessory.” 

The second is wearable technology to measure and manage pressure and vital body measurements and to assist with tone management. 

“On the power mobility side, there are newer emotional intelligence training tools being developed to help learn cause and effect,” said Michael Freehill, rehab product specialist with Duryea, Pa.-based Quantum Rehab. “This, in turn, will help with better outcomes.” 

Jerry Morgan, rehab product specialist for Quantum/Stealth Products, believes the next step in the evolution will be “a true pediatric power chair that falls into the Group 3 billing category.” This chair will have lower STF heights, the ability to accept all the different drive controls and seating, and a small footprint, he said. 

“Currently, kids are getting all these great seating and drive control options but are being placed on adult bases,” he said. 

Gauging advocacy 

Avocacy for these vulnerable patients also remains paramount in securing the necessary funding from payers for proper care. It can be a formidable challenge, though there is reason for cautious optimism, said Lauren A. O’Rourke, clinical pediatric product specialist for Torrance, Calif.-based Etac North America. 

“Advocacy efforts within the adult market concerning complex rehab technology and individually configured rehab equipment have undoubtedly made significant strides,” she said. “Many of these policy changes, spearheaded by adults, have benefited adult and pediatric consumers. However, it's crucial to recognize the unique needs of pediatric patients and the necessity for targeted advocacy efforts in this domain. While policy changes in the adult realm have had positive spillover effects, there remains a clear need for increased advocacy tailored to the pediatric population. Adaptive equipment commonly used by pediatric clients often lacks consistent policy guidance, particularly in jurisdictions where Medicare policy doesn't directly apply. It is crucial to recognize that pediatric patients require specialized equipment and support tailored to their unique developmental stages and challenges.”  

Market focus 

Dustin Moss, clinical vice president of Rehab at Port Washington, N.Y.-based Inspired by Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, said focusing on one or two pediatric areas can allow providers to develop expertise and specialization in those areas, which can lead to better outcomes for patients and their families.  

“It can also enable providers to develop stronger relationships with referring therapists and become known as experts in those particular areas,” he said. “This can be advantageous for building a good reputation and attracting patients.” 

Conversely, offering a continuum of products across multiple pediatric areas can provide more comprehensive care and convenience for patients and their families, Moss added.  

“Ultimately, the best approach for a healthcare provider will depend on their specific circumstances, including the needs of their patient population, their resources and capabilities, and their long-term strategic goals,” he said. “Some providers may find success specializing in one or two pediatric areas, while others may thrive by offering a continuum of products across multiple areas.”


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