Medtrade, the HME industry’s biggest tradeshow of the year, appeared to be down in attendance, but several manufacturers reported that the number of attendees making buying decisions on the show floor was up in numbers.
Although final numbers have not yet been released, manufacturers appeared to be in agreement that floor traffic was generally light. Some manufacturers have even decided not to exhibit at Medtrade Spring next year.
Permobil recently announced its plans to forego exhibiting at Medtrade Spring 2008 and Medtrade fall and instead, to host a rehab summit in the spring of 2008 for its certified provider network.
Permobil’s Rehab Summit will serve as a forum where attendees can learn about changes in the industry, participate in product demonstrations and receive continuing education units (CEUs).
“Our decision to spearhead this event was driven by the need to present information in a more direct setting than just your typical tradeshow,” said Larry Jackson, president of Permobil Inc. “The Rehab Summit will allow us to take a focused approach and really educate our providers on industry trends, governmental regulations, product information and more.”
Jay Williams of QS/1 acknowledged that attendance at Medtrade appeared to be lighter than previous shows, but said he was pleased with the amount of attendees who were making purchasing decisions. “There are less tire kickers here this year,” Williams said.
Other manufacturers reported that there were fewer attendees and exhibitors from last year, but that the tough industry environment is actually resulting in more attendees ready to make buying decisions at the show.
One of the highlights of the Medtrade show was a crowded video presentation from Reps. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) on H.R. 1845, the Tanner-Hobson Bill, which, if passed, would ease the impact of competitive bidding on providers.
Invacare sponsored the event and Invacare’s CEO Mal Mixon, introduced the speakers. “The government seems hell-bent on reducing oxygen (payments/funding), especially… Congress and the president like the new oxygen technology. They’re starting to see that ownership transfer (of oxygen equipment) is a dumb idea.”
Speaking of the impact of competitive bidding, Hobson said, “The problem is some providers may stop providing HME to seniors and people with disabilities who need it.”
Tanner said, “I don’t think the national competitive bidding program will be good for Medicare beneficiaries… I’m still concerned about how the national competitive bidding program will affect beneficiaries in rural areas.”
Another highlight of the show included AAHomecare’s Washington Update, sponsored by Respiratory Management magazine, Home Health Products’ sister publication. President and CEO, Tyler Wilson encouraged providers to get involved politically in their communities and nationally by joining AAHomecare. Wilson said AAHomecare was instrumental in getting the extension for the first wave of competitive bidding in order to “look out for smaller providers.”
Wilson painted a grim picture of the industry’s future due to federal budget pressure as a result of the amount of money going to Iraq, as well as the perception in Washington that HME Medicare spending is too high and out of control. Wilson said grassroots advocacy will be instrumental in improving the forecast for the industry.
AAHomecare raised $60,000 to fund a public awareness campaign on the value of home care at its fund-raising dinner held Oct. 2.
For in-depth coverage of products that were showcased at Medtrade, see Home Health Products’ special post-Medtrade e-newsletter next week.