2015 HME Handbook

How to Capitalize on the Growing Compression Market

In a marketplace where providers are looking for retail opportunities, compression offers a great way to reach a variety of patient groups with a cash sales product.


In a marketplace where providers are looking for retail opportunities, compression offers a great way to reach a variety of patient groups with a cash sales product. Better yet, the compression market is poised for significant growth.

In fact, growing populations of diabetic patients and elderly patients with venous diseases will foster significant growth in the global market for compression therapy, according to a new report from research and consulting firm GlobalData. The report, “Compression Therapy Market to 2019,” says the worldwide compression market will swell from $2.4 billion in 2012 to $3.4 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1 percent.

Better yet, in 2012, the United States was home to the largest market for compression therapy, with 49 percent of the market revenue. GlobalData’s report forecasts the U.S. compression market will grow from $1 billion in 2012 to $1.6 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 6 percent. The report expects the European and Asia-Pacific regions to have smaller shares of 35 percent and 13 percent in 2019, respectively.

In addition to the high incidence of venous diseases, such as deep venous thrombosis, among elderly and diabetic populations, the adoption of compression therapy in the treatment of lymphedema and amputations will also help drive market growth, according to the report. Similarly, so will the compression products themselves. As the textile technology used in compression stockings and bandages continue to advance and improving patient comfort, those innovations are expected to drive future growth, as well.

So, how can providers take advance of this opportunity?

Know the Basics

To start, providers should understand the basics of compression therapy and how compression works. In the most basic of terms the tight fit of compression garments helps provide support and increase circulation for the limbs and areas of the body suffering one condition or another. More serious conditions require heavier compression.

Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury and can range from 15-50 mmHg. Lighter compression products start out at 15-20 mmHg, which are for tired, achy legs, mild edema, varicose veins and foot swelling. This level of pressure can also help to prevent vein thrombosis.

Higher levels of pressure such as 20-30 mmHg is for severe varicosities, for open face ulcers, moderate edema and post surgery. This level of compression also helps to prevent the recurrence of venous ulcers, moderate to severe varicosities during pregnancy and thrombosis. For people who have ulcers, lymphatic edema and varicosities, they typically need 30-40 mmHg. Once you go beyond 40 mmHg, you’re getting into customization.

Train Your Staff

Beyond the basics, key team members should have proper training. Select your in-house experts and sign them up to become certified compression fitters. Certified fitters receive training by going to different classes and seminars that are typically put on by the manufacturers of compression product.

Once trained, the fitter will begin by reviewing a patient’s history and asking important questions that will help determine the right level of compression. Fitters will also help ensure patient compliance, which isn’t always easy to instill. Successful outcomes for compression hinge on patient compliance, but that doesn’t always happen. After being given a prescription from a doctor, some patients will come in to a provider get fitted for compression wear, and still not wear the compression garment. Why? Because compression garments can be difficult to put on and take off, especially for older patients and patients with joint stiffness.

So, fitters will show patients how to don and doff compression garments, especially hosiery, and avoid common mistakes. For instance, one mistake patients will make is that they will put on compression hosiery as though it were a typical sock; by bunching the compression sock up on their hands at the point above its heel. Then they’ll try to pull it up over their toe area and then their heel, which is very hard to accomplish. Providers can help them by training patients on the different methods for fitting compression socks.

This actually creates another sales opportunity, since there are products called stocking donners that help patients get in to the hose. Providers should stress to customers that not wearing the hose could lead to more severe swelling, and there’s also a risk of blood clotting, Stafford adds.

Work With Physicians

Working with physicians is critical, because it gives the provider and its certified fitters an opportunity to educate medical professional on the different levels, uses and benefits of compressions. In a good working relationship with a referring physician, when the physician sends a patient to the provider, the fitter can examine the diagnosis to determine what level of pressure will work best for the patient. Furthermore, because the provider established a good relationship and provided education, the doctor will be able to provide more precise guidelines about what he or she wants to achieve in terms of treatment, and the fitter can help accomplish that.

Market to Patients

With the right expertise in place, providers should reach out to not only existing patients, but new patient groups, as well. A great way to advance that marketing is through education. In addition to traditional marketing venues, such as newsletters or advertising, try providing educational events. For example, see if local assisted living centers will let you present on-site seminars regarding the therapeutic benefits of compression and how compression works. At the seminars, hand out informative materials as a leave behind. Techniques like these will help position your business as an expert solution provider to prospective patient clients.

Points to Take Away:

  • The global compression market is exploding and will swell from $2.4 billion in 2012 to $3.4 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1 percent.
  • The U.S. compression market is right in the epicenter of that explosion, comprising 49 percent of the revenue, and forecasted to grow from $1 billion in 2012 to $1.6 billion in 2019.
  • Providers looking to take advantage of this critical retail opportunity must get educated on how compression works, and ensure that key staffers become certified compression fitters.
  • Additionally providers should work to educate patients and physicians on the benefits of compression, and work with physicians to coordinate care.

Learn More:

  • Check out the latest news, features, columns, and product coverage on compression from HME Business at bit.ly/HMEB-compression.

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of HME Business.

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