Bathroom Trends

Bath Safety has always been a booming business for durable medical equipment (DME) dealers and for manufacturers. Most than just a business, health care practitioners recognize the importance of being specific in their selection of prescribing the appropriate products for their patients. With the growing selection of bath safety products across the industry, competition has heightened;

With the bariatric population growing in numbers, the bariatric product market has flourished in the last 10 years.
not only for manufacturers producing competitive and unique products, but also for dealers in offering better quality products from their own competitors, even if it puts them at a cut for reimbursement.

In New York, the reimbursement is set up at a fixed fee schedule under N.Y. State Medicaid allowables. Dealers have to accept these allowables and then negotiate better pricing with their manufacturers or distributors.

Drive Medical Designs, a bath safety manufacturer in the HME industry, offers a full selection of bath safety products, among their full lines of medical products. A panel of therapists are involved in the product development phase, helping to develop products from a clinical and professional expertise.

A trend in the bath safety market includes the development of products that cater to the varying and individual needs of each person. With the bariatric population growing in numbers, the bariatric product market has flourished in the last 10 years. Manufacturers have responded to this industry demand with a bariatric line of products including commodes with a 1,000 lb. weight capacity and a choice of different styles.

Another factor in the development of bath products is the environment, and such considerations can help the dealer and the end user. To accommodate for issues of space, clients should consider commodes that can be knocked down for smaller packaging. These commodes are convenient for drivers doing last minute deliveries because they can keep extra commodes in the van without taking up too much space. In addition, the same commode, once set up, has an adjustable splash guard and rim that can be moved to fit over a toilet that is located in a small corner of the bathroom, and it can move off center for convenience. Clients look for commodes that are cost-efficient, functional and practical. Commodes that can be taken apart if needed for travel are convenient and efficient for the end user.

In an effort to develop higher quality bath safety products, the industry has moved away from the institutional-looking products to more aesthetically pleasing products for the consumer. The ability to travel with products became another customer need, resulting in products that are portable and easy to fold and transport. Currently, packaging and retailing of bath products has become an important selling feature of the bath safety products.

Since Medicaid is the only insurance covering most bath safety products except commodes, which are covered by Medicare and other insurance providers, the demand for better-looking, more appealing products is important since a lot of end users are purchasing these products out-of-pocket. Many companies sell bath products in retail packaging to make it easier for dealers to sell too.

Having a variety of models can make buying a commode or a bath seat more of a shopping experience for the end user. For a dealer, this can be positive or negative; Positive if they have more of a selection in stock; negative if they only offer one or two models in a category of bath safety products.

Manufacturer's Perspective

Manufacturers have developed and released numerous and varied bath safety products to meet different needs. They constantly lean on dealers for feedback on their products for improvement and put out better products over time.

Drive Medical Designs also stands behind their limited lifetime warranty and provides quality assurance to their dealers and end users.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a bath product or any product for that matter. Educating the industry and end users is probably the most important step to marketing bath safety, not just for the selling aspect, but more for the safety and prevention that these products will provide for the end user.

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of HME Business.


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