December 2015

OHI pioneers wearable tech devices, says ‘yes’ with industry-leading promise

ohi-logo2By Suzanne Wright

While the sweeping changes of the Affordable Care Act have been disruptive to some businesses, Jason Kraus, president and chief operating officer of OHI (Orthotic Holdings Inc.), welcomes them. He believes they are a potential windfall for certain sectors of the medical device industry—so much so, that he lectures frequently on the topic at onsite conferences and seminars and webinars held throughout the US and around the world.

Kraus, who logged over 100,000 flight miles last year, said, “One of our guiding principles at OHI is perpetual innovation. Our ability to innovate in ways that are aligned with the changes in healthcare delivery will enable our customers to drive better patient outcomes while experiencing unprecedented practice growth. For OHI, its customers, and their patients, the changing healthcare environment could not be more positive.”

There’s no doubt that consumers—both the healthy and the health-challenged—are becoming more proactive, and taking charge of their healthcare.

“Americans are transitioning from patients to healthcare consumers,” said Kraus.

He has the data to back up his assertion.

According to U.S. Healthcare 2020, a June 2015 report by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association, the new US healthcare model is customer-centric, transparent, and results-focused.

“Historically, it’s been hard to get paid to prevent a fall, but easy to get paid for fixing a broken hip,” said Kraus. “Incentives and financial opportunities for preventing a fall proactively have been rare.”

But that’s changing rapidly.

The same report posits that the healthcare business will become a technology business, thanks to the wide adoption of technology that allows consumers to monitor their conditions—everything from cardiovascular health to diabetes. By some accounts, 37 of the top 40 downloaded Apple and Google apps are health-related.

And OHI is poised to help practitioners become more competitive and successful in this evolving environment with its own technology-enabled products.

Orthoses that can save lives
2015 might be remembered as the year that wearable technology went mainstream, with Fitbit bracelets and Apple watches replacing expensive timepieces and jewelry, and apps as ongoing topics of conversation.

OHI understands the power of wearables. The company also knows that falls continue to be devastating for seniors and that diabetes is the second leading cause of foot amputation.

Their Moore Balance Brace (MBB) is the leading foot and ankle device that offers enhanced balance and stability for wearers.

And, while the Moore Balance Brace has been widely prescribed, one shortcoming has been that physicians can’t tell if patients are using it properly—or diligently— once they’ve left the clinic.

To overcome this limitation, OHI partnered with Redmond, WA-based wearable fitness tech firm Sensoria Fitness to develop the Smart Moore Balance Brace.

Like the original, the Smart Moore Balance Brace increases ankle stability, thus reducing postural sway, a common risk factor for falls in older adults. But the internetconnected Smart Moore Balance Brace also features built-in, Bluetooth-enabled sensors that measure the amount and level of activity, gait speed, cadence, and time spent with each foot on the ground.

Those real-time data are then transmitted to an easy-to-understand, online dashboard so both users and physicians can monitor and evaluate compliance.

A great deal of online innovation is occurring via connected devices, often referred to as “The Internet of Things” (IOT). OHI’s Smart Moore Balance Brace will be among the first IOT-enabled custom orthoses. Imagine a device capable of warning at-risk patients of potentially debilitating injuries before they happen.

“Receiving a text message from your caretaker saying, ‘Get off your feet, you’re about to fall, see a doctor,’ can be life saving,” Kraus said.

The Smart Moore Balance Brace is undergoing its final market studies, and the beta version should be available in 2016.

“Investing in new technology, especially in the face of reimbursement challenges and cost containment, might seem counterintuitive,” Kraus admitted. “But we believe the best products with the best patient outcomes will be rewarded. Think of the billions of dollars and human costs saved.”

OHI says ‘Yes’
OHI is making another unprecedented move in the coming year.

While OHI’s brands are all well known for the quality and design of their products, Kraus believes their emerging customer service breakthroughs will prove disruptive. Through a new, company-wide program called “OHI Yes” they’ll be providing an industry-leading satisfaction assurance so that OHI customers—and, in turn, their patients—will be unconditionally guaranteed a satisfactory outcome, period. OHI Yes reflects a philosophy as much as a policy. Explained Kraus, “We are committed to making the complicated world of DME as easy as possible.” OHI Yes will include a bundle of services that assist OHI clients in more effectively and efficiently running their practices.

OHI Yes empowers all of the company’s customer service personnel and clinical care specialists to do “whatever it takes” to support its customers. This will result in less burdensome return policies, expedited orders, online access to all pertinent account information, and more. It’s the most accommodating policy in the industry.

“We are a highly competent, customercentric business,” said Kraus. “That’s why we can offer this unprecedented level of assurance. It’s also quite simply the right thing to do.”

This move should bolster customer loyalty, but Kraus anticipates these initiatives will also attract new customers. He also expects to capture the attention of his competitors who may, in turn, step up their own service quality—which would be positive for the industry overall.

Suzanne Wright is an Arizona-based freelance writer.

Article sponsored by OHI.

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