Advances in Technology Increase Bed & Support Surface Market

Analysis from Frost and Sullivan earlier this year found that the bed and support surface market continues to increase as a result of advances in technology and the need for preventative care to reduce the costs of hospitalization. This trend of growth continues.

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan found that the U.S. Specialty Bed and Support Surface Market for Wound Management earned revenues of $1,625 million in 2005 and estimates to reach $2,917.4 million in 2012.

Novel technologies and lower costs for mattress replacements are shifting consumers from specialty bed systems and overlays. In an effort to provide more therapeutic value to end-users at an affordable cost, mattress replacements are becoming more technologically advanced. Mattress replacements are increasingly designed to fit the needs of most frames in all health care settings including acute, long-term and home care.

The growing demand for highly functional and less expensive products is creating a cost-driven market, compelling manufacturers to lower prices. Due to an aging population that is prone to developing pressure sores and an increasing number of obese patients, specialty beds and support surfaces with advanced technologies are expecting to dominate the market.

Additionally, the market is likely to grow due to an increasing prevalence of pressure ulcers and costs associated with treatment and prevention. Pressure ulcers affect a significant number of patients, approximately 1 million pressure ulcers occur in the United States, generating an estimate of hospital annual costs at $1.3 billion annually. Due to high incidence rates of acquiring pressure ulcers during hospitals stays, hospitals desire pressure relief equipment that assists in reducing incidence rates, costs and morbidity.

Hospitals pushing for shorter hospital stays are driving demand for advanced technologies in specialty bed and support surface equipment for alternate care settings. Associations such as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) have developed stringent guidelines for clinicians handling pressure ulcers for at-risk patients including prevention, assessing, identifying and early treatment. With the increased awareness of the legal liabilities involved with the formation of ulcers in care centers, there is a higher demand for prevention products.

"Increasing number of patients with pressure ulcers boosts demand for preventative therapy. Products with a greater focus on prevention are likely to experience a significant increase in sales," says Frost & Sullivan research analyst Sheila Ewing.

Due to increasing cost containment pressures exerted on health care facilities, clinicians expect manufacturers to provide documented proof that higher costs are offset by improved clinical outcomes. Products must clearly show decreased healing time or reduce the nursing time required to care for the patient in order to justify their use.

However, it is expensive and difficult to design studies that clearly demonstrate cost savings. Large, randomized trials with an ample number of patients are expensive and may not always yield the intended result despite a significant capital outlay. Manufacturers are faced with proving this data nonetheless.

"Without conclusive clinical evidence, physicians are reluctant to prescribe certain therapies to their patients," explains Ewing. "Clinicians are unwilling to try new methods without clinical evidence from trials or medical professional endorsement."

Manufacturers must provide long-term clinical evidence for advancement of a treatment. Clinical results are not only important to gain approval by clinicians, but are necessary to maintain or garner market share.

Taking Care of Pressure Sores

A pressure sore is any redness or break in the skin caused by too much pressure on the skin for too long of a period of time. What should clients do if they think they have a pressure sore? According to the University of Washington's Rehabilitation Medicine:

  • Keep pressure off the sore.
  • Maintain good hygiene. Wash with mild soap and water, rinse carefully but gently. Do not rub vigorously over the wound.
  • Evaluate your diet. Are you getting enough protein, calories, vitamin C, zinc and iron in your diet?
  • Review your mattress, wheelchair cushion, transfers, pressure and turning techniques for a possible cause of the problem.
  • If the sore does not heal in a few days or recur, consult your primary care physician.
  • How to Know if the Sore is Healing:

    1. The sore will get smaller.
    2. Pinkish tissue usually starts forming along the edges of the sore and you may notice smooth surfaces of new tissue.
    3. Some bleeding may be present. This shows that circulation to the area, which helps healing.

    Signs of Trouble:

    1. An increase in the size or drainage of the sore.
    2. Increased redness around the sore or black areas starting to form.
    3. The sore starts smelling and/or the drainage becomes a greenish color.
    4. You develop a fever.

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    This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of HME Business.

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