HME Business Handbook: Compression

How to Maximize Your Compression Market Reach

The market for compression products is huge and fed by a variety of patient populations. How do providers make the most of that opportunity?

There’s a sizable market for compression products. The worldwide compression market is projected to swell to $3.4 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1 percent from $2.4 billion in 2012, according to market research and consulting firm GlobalData. Better yet, the United States is ground zero when it comes to compression market growth. 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.

There are various patient populations that are driving this market growth, according to GlobalData. Specifically, increasing numbers of diabetic patients and elderly patients with venous diseases will foster this demand. These are patient groups with whom most providers do a considerable amount of business. With a clear market opportunity and existing patient relationships in place, many providers are in a prime position to tap into compression services.

Besides standard patient groups, there are non-healthcare markets that are also interested in compressional garments. The athletic market is a perfect example: runners, triathletes and other sporty types can benefit greatly from lighter compression hosiery, sleeves and other garments.

So with all this potential, how to compression providers expand their market reach?

SPECIALIZED ACCREDITATION

The benefits of compression need to be put in the context of patient care, and that means having the right expertise. Your team should have a solid understanding of the disease states that are involved and the products that help them. Employees should know the features and benefits of key products and to be able to effectively communicate that information to customers.

Moreover, the provider must have staff who understand the various types and grades of compression products, as well as their applicability for different patient conditions.

And that goes beyond understanding product basics. The provider should have team members with proper training in compression products and fitting. Fortunately, there is training available from the various compression vendors. 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 products.

Once trained, the fitter will be able to review a patient’s history and ask salient questions that will help determine the right type of product and level of compression. Fitters will also help ensure patient compliance, which isn’t always easy to instill.

Let’s keep in mind that, compression is therapy, and that means compliance. A compression provider with educated, expert staff that can help foster compliance through attentive patient care and education will help ensure patient success, and thusly secure referral partner confidence. Educated, certified fitters can 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.)

RETAILING THE RIGHT ITEMS

While compression garments provide a therapeutic benefit, patients also consider these items as clothing, so fashion plays a role — and in many cases a starring role. Therapy or not, people want to feel that what they’re wearing makes them look good, not just feel good. Bearing that in mind, provide a wide range of product types, sizes, colors and styles. In fact, color and style are more important than you might initially realize. Compression garment manufacturers are well aware of your customers’ desire for a wide range of choices, and are constantly updating their range to address seasonal changes and fashion trends.

Display the products in an attractive and engaging fashion, perhaps showing how your compression garments can pair up with other articles of clothing. Also, change your displays on a regular basis to keep things looking fresh and new. (Take a trip to the local shopping mall or department store to get ideas on how you can display your compression items.) Provide signage and product information to help the products do the selling if staff are attending to other customers. Focus on product packaging, which can often be as important as the “look” of the actual compression garments. Seek out products that are packaged like other retail items.

Also, if you are reaching out to diverse groups of compression users, make sure that your merchandising reflects that. For instance, if you are serving athletic users, as well as seniors, you might want to create separate merchandising that appeals to both sets of customers.

EDUCATE REFERRAL PARTNERS

While compression is typically retail, referral partners drive a considerable amount of compression patients to providers. So, it’s critical that providers work to educate existing and new referral partners regarding their compression offerings. Try to create educational opportunities such as in-services that can give certified fitters an opportunity to educate medical professionals on the different levels, uses and benefits of compressions.

The goal is to establish a referral relationship that ensures that, 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.

Similarly, you can position your business as an expert solution provider to various client and patient groups through seminars and educational events.

For instance, see if local assisted living centers will let you offer an on-site seminar regarding the benefits of compression. Those kinds of efforts will help familiarize patients with what’s available, help reinforce your reputation for expertise in the category, and hopefully start creating some long-lasting relationships that produce beneficial outcomes.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • The global market for compression products continues to grow, with the United States at its epicenter.
  • Driving that growth are several patient populations that HME providers already serve, such as diabetic and elderly patients.
  • Additionally, there are aligned markets, such as athletic clients, that can benefit from compression.
  • Reaching into these opportunities starts with education. Providers must ensure all staff have the right knowledge. Special compression fitter certification is a must.
  • They should also strive to educate referrals and patients on the options available.

LEARN MORE:

To help get your team trained in compression, some vendors offer instruction. SIGVARIS (sigvaris.com) provides a Basic Fitter Seminar, as well as a Certified Compression Specialist Training Course. Also, the Juzo Academy (juzoacademy.com) offers live and online courses.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of HME Business.

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