December 2016

Taking on a national health crisis

By Suzanne Wright

Leaders lead. When your company is acknowledged by colleagues, competitors and patients as industry-leading, innovation is a given. So it’s no surprise that Arizona AFO redoubled its efforts in 2016 to effectively address a growing national healthcare concern while also bringing to market a device that filled an industry-wide void and instantly struck a chord with practitioners and patients alike.

“Throughout the healthcare community and all the way up to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are now recognized as public health risk,” said Jason Kraus, president and chief operating officer of Arizona AFO. “The American Podiatric Medical Association passed a resolution for the first time in 2016 stating that the podiatric physician is essential to addressing the public health problem represented by falls. Everyone focused on lower extremity health has an important role to play in prevention as well as treatment.”

The costs related to falls, measured in both economic and human terms, are startling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the year 2030, 71 million Americans will be 65 or older. Every day, an estimated 10,000 people turn 65, and this trend is expected to continue for the next two decades. Fall-related injuries account for an estimated $34 billion to the U.S. healthcare system each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations in those 65 or older. After a fall, nearly two-thirds of patients are discharged to nursing facilities, though half will not return to independent living. Falls also account for 40% of injury-related deaths.

Good for patients, good for business

“This is a complicated problem and there are many things we can and should be doing to mitigate the risk of falls in our elderly population,” said Kraus. “Our Moore Balance Brace (MBB) has been prescribed to tens of thousands of patients across the U.S. who are now leading safer and more independent lives. The MBB is not a panacea, of course. It is best prescribed as part of a fall risk protocol that includes physical and occupational therapy, strength training, regular eye and ear checkups.”

Thanks in part to parent company OHI’s fall risk advocacy, fall risk management has become a focus among both physicians and end users. The MBB is the only balance brace proven in a peer-reviewed clinical study to improve balance. According to the study, the MBB has “an immediate effect…on postural stability in older adults.” Another study focusing on the MBB is ongoing at Baylor University.

Arizona AFO redoubled its efforts in 2016 to effectively address a growing national healthcare concern while also bringing to market a device that filled an industry-wide void and instantly struck a chord with practitioners and patients alike.

To assist practitioners, Arizona AFO has created a free webinar that provides step-by-step instructions for adding a comprehensive balance program to their practice. This course is designed to teach healthcare professionals what they need to know about identifying patients who may be at risk for falls, administering a fall risk assessment, and developing a comprehensive treatment plan.

This kind of proactive approach is not just good for patients. It’s good for the bottom line—especially at a time when changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may emerge over the coming years.

“The ACA is still the law of the land,” Kraus noted. “And the centerpiece is reducing costs of a bloated system and achieving quality outcomes that are proportional to healthcare spending. Medicare initiatives are pivoting away from a fee-for-treatment or transactional model, to a value-for-care model. Accessible and affordable solutions, such as assistive devices like braces and footwear, provide patients with solutions to prevent catastrophic problems. As a company, we are very much in sync with where healthcare is going.”

A new brace solves old problems

That’s why Kraus is excited about the Arizona Mezzo, a patented, custom-fabricated brace designed by Dennis Janisse, CPed, an internationally known pedorthic educator exclusive to Arizona AFO. Released in July 2016, it is a “happy medium” between a UCBL and the company’s namesake Arizona Brace.

Before licensing it, Kraus and his team took samples to trade shows and watched practitioner after practitioner pick it up and offer positive feedback. Kraus characterizes the Mezzo as one of those “why-didn’t-we-think-of-it-sooner” types of products that ticks the aesthetics box and therefore increases patient compliance.

The Mezzo is an excellent option for patients who suffer from painful foot and ankle problems like arthritis, tendinitis, and overuse injuries.

“Nobody wants to be in a brace,” Kraus said. “Patients often refuse to use traditional bracing systems because they are bulky, hard to hide under clothes and draw unwanted attention to themselves. This brace helps to alleviate pain due to various hindfoot, midfoot and ankle conditions, while being streamlined, simple to use and easy to fit into virtually any shoe.”

Sales have been brisk.

“The Mezzo has seemingly captured the attention and imagination of both prescribers and patients because it addresses pain points and it works well,” said Kraus.

“All of our products are aligned to provide alternatives to expensive, invasive and risky procedures,” said Kraus. “There’s a business rationale to everything we bring to the brand and in turn, to our clients and their patients. We are white-hot focused on helping people live safer, more independent lives.”

Article sponsored by Arizona AFO.

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