A Long-Awaited Reunion
After 15 long months of not seeing anyone in the industry in person, it was great to finally get back to Medtrade West, catch up with old friends, and make some new and interesting contacts, as well.
- By David Kopf
- Jul 19, 2021
When my flight landed in Phoenix for my trip to Medtrade West last week, I truly felt like I was finally awake after an extended hibernation. After 15 long months of working from home, I was more than eager to meet up with some industry friends, and I couldn’t seeing the ground get closer and closer as my plane approached Sky Harbor International was a welcome sight indeed. I was hundreds of miles from my wife and kids, but somehow I was feeling strangely at home.
And if that wasn’t stranger enough, the fact that a tradeshow was bookending the worst of my COVID-19 pandemic experience was pretty bizarre, I can assure you. I attended Medtrade West and the International Seating Symposium the same week in March 2020, and by the time I got my car from airport parking to drive home, counties in California and New York were already going into lockdown mode.
You know the story from that point onward all too well — we all do — so I wasn’t the only one desperate to see industry friends and colleagues. Plus, it was nice to be in a new location and see some new features added to the Medtrade West show lineup. Things felt fresh and exciting, which is saying a lot for Arizona in July, but it’s the truth.
So, in no specific order, I figured I’d jot down some of the things that jumped out and grabbed my attention at the show:
I know the Vegas nightlife fans are going to fight me on this one, but I really like Phoenix. It’s an interesting city with a really nice downtown. Moreover, the Phoenix Convention Center facilities are really solid. This is a venue that lets attendees focus on getting the most out of the show during the day and then getting some great meals at night.
Separating the Expo Hours
For the first time in a long time, Medtrade West had dedicated conference time and dedicated expo time. This was the right move for a show this size. Medtrade West is smaller, and it makes a ton of sense to set things up so that attendees can make the most of the educational sessions and then check out what the exhibitors have to offer. And the Tuesday evening Welcome to Phoenix Preview Night event made for a perfect transition.
The AAHomecare Update
The American Association for Homecare returned to its new format for the Update, which debuted at Medtrade West 2020. In the new format, I sit down with AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan, Senior Vice President of Public Policy Jay Witter, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Kim Brummett, and Vice President of Payer Relations Laura Williard, and interview them on a variety of topics.
Throughout, there were regular intervals to let the audience ask the AAHomecare team questions, and it resulted in a really interactive Update. We covered a ton of ground in 90 minutes, but for folks who couldn’t make the show, I discussed a key, top-line topic with Williard, Brummet and Witter for Episode 52 of the HMEB Podcast. I was honored the association asked me to moderate the panel discussion, and I enjoyed it so much that I am looking forward to doing it in Atlanta for Medtrade East.
Keeping the Expo Floor Fresh
As I mentioned, I welcomed the chance to see so many familiar faces at Medtrade West, but I was equally enthused to see lots of new vendors offering some really interesting products and services, as well. We compiled a big preview roundup of products and services that were on the expo floor that you can read at this link, but I wanted to quickly share at least some of the new exhibitors and products that grabbed my attention:
The Ruby Slipper Swivel Car Seat Cover — This product is essentially a car seat cover, but it’s made out of two overlapping sheets of non-binding fabric that easily allow people with mobility difficulties to pivot and exit or enter a car. It’s one of those simple-but-brilliant products that makes you say, “why didn’t I think of that?” Say goodbye to the lazy Susans on the car seat.
UpLyft Health — The UpLyft is a patient lift for wheelchair users that lets them transfer solo. Yes, you read that right: solo. (It also offers controls to let caregivers perform transfers.) I got a chance to see a demo of a prototype and it is impressive; it lifts the wheelchair user out of the chair, carries them to the bed, and then gently lays them down. I’m going to be really excited to watch this develop.
Motif Medical — As many HMEB readers know, I see women’s health as a critical, yet often underserved, category in HME. Often that’s due to a lack of clarity on what can be billed. So I was excited to see Motif focusing on showing off a healthy range of billable women’s health items, including its BiliTouch phototherapy blanket, which is used to treat newborn infants diagnosed with jaundice.
Elvie — An equal parts inspiring and innovative range of women’s health offerings were on display at the Elvie booth. For breast pumps, rather than keep women tethered to devices, the Elvie Pump is placed in the bra so that users can be freed to carry on normal daily activities. They also were showing a pelvic floor trainer that uses biofeedback to help women improve bladder control and speed post-natal recovery.
rtNOW — Outsourcing and remote staffing continue to expand as critical services in the HME industry as providers learn to right-size their businesses to meet market challenges. One of the latest staff solutions, rtNOW offers respiratory staff on a telehealth basis for activities such as remote PAP setup, vent follow-ups, and patient compliance coaching.
If anything, my one complaint about the show was that I didn’t get to see all of it. By the time I was heading back to the airport, I was already compiling a list of companies I wanted to contact when I got back to the home office because I couldn’t see them at the show. And if anything, I think that’s a pretty good sign that Medtrade West enjoyed a healthy return. Here’s to more HME industry events in 2021.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.