The numbers are in, and they’re consistent: the medical equipment industry is growing. Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provides freedom, independence, and quality of life not possible without help from these products. In order to better serve patients, medical equipment companies are evaluating factors that shape the market. Below, we outline five trends that are influencing the medical equipment industry and how companies can utilize and work around these trends to grow their businesses.
1. Demographic Changes
The population of elderly citizens in the US—and across the globe—is increasing. In fact, the
United Nations projects exponential growth in every segment of the aging population. There will soon be a higher percentage of elderly people on Earth than any other age group. The good news is that people are living longer. But they still need access to vital and necessary DME. This population growth forecasts an increased need for in-home medical equipment.
As the total number of the elderly increases, the medical equipment industry will follow suit. From 2018 to 2026, the global home medical equipment market is expected to grow from $26.6 million to $41.3 million. It’s important for businesses to expand their product lines to keep up with the growing needs of aging patients. As the global population shifts and grows older and has medical equipment needs, there are businesses with the capacity and capabilities to grow in order to meet those needs.
2. Wearable Devices
Consumers want their medical equipment to travel with them with as much ease as possible. The popularity of wearable technology cannot be ignored—nor should it be. Fitness tech is now commonplace, and wearable medical equipment is becoming the same.
This portable tech is becoming popular not only in the field of preventative healthcare and fitness but in the medical equipment sector as well. For example, customers using portable oxygen concentrators expect their equipment to keep up with their lifestyle. Carrying POCs that are sleek, lightweight, and wearable allows patients to continue their day to day without literally or figuratively being tied down by their oxygen needs. By providing your patients with wearable POCs, you’re able to give them a better quality of life.
3. Higher Rates of Respiratory Disease
A large segment of the DME market is for the treatment or management of respiratory disease. Over the last few decades, we have seen a steep uptick in the number of people affected by chronic respiratory diseases. As the incidence of respiratory illness increases, so does the need for medical equipment to aid patients with these ailments. Portable oxygen is one of the most common DME products; it’s estimated that more than 1.5 million Americans use portable oxygen to improve their quality of life. At one time, large oxygen tanks that are clunky and need to be refilled were the only way a patient could receive needed supplemental oxygen. But today, there are many, many options for oxygen—and other respiratory aids—that give patients the ability to continue living life to the fullest. Having access to portable oxygen allows patients to not only live with confidence that they can leave their home safely, but it gives them the freedom to truly live. Without POCs, nebulizers, or CPAP machines, among other products, hundreds of thousands of Americans would simply be tethered to their home.
The high rate of respiratory illness is unfortunate. However, medical equipment companies are constantly innovating to create products that truly provide an excellent quality of life that simply was not possible twenty, ten, or even five years ago.
4. Online and Phone Shopping
The number of patients shopping online or speaking with a call center for medical equipment has increased greatly over the last couple of decades. The target demographic of people who need medical equipment might not be internet savvy themselves, but those caring for them are utilizing the convenience of online and phone shopping to secure the equipment for the needs of their loved ones. In the past, medical equipment was sold exclusively through brick-and-mortar retail. While a physical location and face-to-face interaction is still very important, having an online store has become equally important.
Patients comparing prices, quality, and special features of their medical equipment want to do so from the comfort of their own homes. That’s why it’s so important for medical equipment companies to have a functional and user-friendly website and skilled call center representatives for subsequent questions. It won’t be long before every generation is comfortable looking for medical equipment online. Making price checking and feature comparison easy will benefit companies that provide DME.
5. Consumer Financing
As the number of people needing medical equipment grows, so does the number of people who need financial aid services to obtain that equipment. Unfortunately, a lack of funds for necessary medical equipment is a common stressor for many who need such equipment to enjoy a high quality of life day after day.
That’s why one of the biggest trends in the medical equipment industry is the rise of consumer financing. Consumer financing firms like United Consumer Financial Services allow patients to get the equipment that they need when they need it. Many times, insurance may only cover some—or even none—of the cost. And often, an insurance policy will only cover replacement equipment every few years. This puts those who need medical equipment in a difficult situation.
However, companies like UCFS that offer consumer financing allow for patients to make easy, affordable, low monthly payments so they can have access to the life-changing equipment they need. Consumer financing also benefits medical equipment businesses because it allows them to serve more customers, that might otherwise not make their purchase.
Consumer financing is truly a win-win for the patient and the equipment provider. Patients enjoy more freedom, better equipment, and less financial stress. At the same time, medical equipment companies can serve more patients and move more inventory because they offer simple, realistic financing options.
The medical equipment industry serves millions of Americans every year, with the numbers growing. In order to remain the best resource for patients, it’s crucial that medical equipment companies be aware of the trends shaping their industry. In some cases, businesses have no control over trends affecting the market. But when it comes to making medical equipment affordable and accessible, companies have the opportunity to offer consumer financing to their customers. Working with UCFS to provide realistic and proven payment plans benefits both the customer and the business today and in the years to come.