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Think about it

Think about it

Well, 2022 is certainly starting off with a bang.

The first rumblings that big things are going to happen this year was an announcement on Jan. 6 by Stryker that it plans to acquire Vocera Communications. This does not have a direct impact on the HME industry, per se, but it does speak to large players in mostly the acute care space getting more serious about extending their reach beyond hospitals.

Stryker said Vocera brings a portfolio of products to address “the increasing need for hospitals to connect caregivers and disparate data-generating medical devices, which will help drive efficiencies and improve safety and outcomes.” The company goes on: “Vocera’s highly developed software competency, unique and innovative hardware solutions, and the ability to securely enable remote communication between patients and their families, complements Stryker’s Advanced Digital Healthcare offerings. The combined business will further advance Stryker’s focus on preventing adverse events throughout the continuum of care.”

Note the references to caregivers and families, and the continuum of care.

Then came an announcement on Jan. 10 by Medically Home, which offers a hospital-at-home program that enables health systems to deliver care to high and medium acuity patients in their own homes, that it has received $110 million in funding from strategic investors, including, among others, Baxter International, another large player in the acute care market. Giuseppe Accogli, Baxter’s executive vice president and COO, said, “Baxter’s strategic investment in Medically Home will help advance our vision to transform health care by accelerating access to hospital-level care at home. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the value of helping clinicians deliver the best possible care for patients at home, and we are thrilled to help Medically Home expend its unique care model, while furthering innovation in digital health and monitoring technologies and solutions.”

Note the reference to the pandemic’s role in “accelerating access to hospital-level care at home.”

Also, on Jan. 10, Owens & Minor announced that it plans to buy Apria in a deal valued at about $1.45 billion. This one, of course, is a direct impact on the HME industry, with a, you guessed it, large player in the acute care market going from a niche player in the industry – through its acquisition of Byram Healthcare in 2017 – to one of the largest full-line providers in the industry. Edward Pesicka, president and CEO of Owens & Minor, said, “The combination of two complementary businesses in Byram Healthcare and Apria will enable us to better serve the entire patient journey – through the hospital and into the home – ultimately furthering our mission of ‘Empowering Our Customers to Advance Healthcare.’ In addition, this transaction diversifies our total company revenue stream by expanding our presence in the higher-growth home health care market.” 

Note the references to patient journey and higher-growth home health care market.

These are big companies – Owens & Minor serves 4,000 provider facilities with 15,000 employees and 90 facilities worldwide – and they increasingly want a piece of in-home care. What does that mean for large providers like Apria? What does it mean for smaller providers like Jones Medical Supply, which, incidentally recently made its first acquisition ever?

It’s too early to tell, but I’d be thinking about it – hard.


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