MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Makers of durable medical equipment have had to shift their manufacturing parameters in recent years in order to accommodate the ever-growing rates of obesity in the U.S.
It’s sometimes a "heartbreaking" situation for patients, but it’s also a potentially lucrative opportunity for device makers and clinicians. Clinics generally pay a premium for bigger devices, but the technology has become a medical necessity.
"It’s very lucrative," Wesley Medical Center bariatric program coordinator Amanda Page told the Wichita Eagle. "If places aren’t making changes to accommodate the population, then they’re making a mistake. Right now, that’s the shift."
Rooms, machines and equipment such as wheelchairs have had to be revised to fit larger patients, sometimes representing a bit of an engineering puzzle in balancing the size of the machine against the available room in healthcare facilities.
The trend is one that healthcare analysts don’t see slowing down. Medical device group purchasing organization Novation’s recent survey of its member facilities found that 38% had reported a "slight increase" in admissions of morbidly obese patients and 75% have emergency facilities equipped to handle plus-sized patients.
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