Headline News

Medtrade Gets a Makeover


ATLANTA — Organizers at Medtrade, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, have aligned with key HME stakeholders to build a better show — and that effort is bringing back some
big players.

Drawn by Medtrade officials' openness to crafting a conference and expo that will more acutely address the industry's needs,Invacare is returning to the fall show, which will be held Oct.12-15 in Atlanta. The Roho Group is also back, and other manufacturers including Pride Mobility/Quantum Rehab are expanding their presence.

The National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers, which sat out last year's show, is returning. VGM has signed up with its 15-company "VGM Village," and The MED Group is also back in.

After some years of declining attendance, disgruntled attendees and exhibitors who boycotted the show, "what we have tried to do is listen to exhibitors and attendees and get a better sense of what they want Medtrade to be," said Kevin Gaffney, who joined show producer Nielsen Business Media in 2008 as Medtrade group show director.

The "new" Medtrade will focus on advocacy, government affairs and continuing education, all features that providers have championed and companies such as Invacare, Pride, Drive, Permobil, VGM and The MED Group have pushed.

"With the support of some of these key companies, we have that commitment to move forward and make some changes that are
impactful," Gaffney said.

A new 15-year contract with the American Association for Homecare gives the trade association a bigger role in shaping the conference.
Medtrade will also provide significant financial support to AAHomecare's industry lobbying and advocacy efforts.

"We are listening to [everyone's] concerns," Gaffney said.

One result is the new complex rehab pavilion, sponsored by NRRTS, which is designed to heighten the visibility of small rehab companies by locating them
in one large area.

"When a small complex rehab company exhibits at Medtrade, they can get lost in the sea of enteral feeding tubes and diapers and power wheelchairs. It's just not conducive for appropriate traffic flow," said Simon Margolis, NRRTS executive director. "If you can position like manufacturers and like organizations in a more centralized area, then you can maximize the more valuable traffic that is going to make a difference to these folks in the long run."

Nielsen's willingness to make such changes has heartened Margolis. "NRRTS was involved [in Medtrade] in the past but we were uninvolved last year. We decided things weren't going in the right direction," he said.

But things are different now, Margolis said.

"Medtrade has made a commitment to try and pull in more clinicians and referral sources. You aren't going to have consumers flying in, but the 100-mile radius around Atlanta — that's a lot of people, and if you can get them, it would become a very strong regional show [in that regard]."

Encouraged by the concept, NRRTS has not only come back to Medtrade but has increased its participation, sponsoring two educational programs: a legislative and regulatory update presented by NCART (National Coalition for Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology) and a session on consumer self-advocacy. NRRTS will also have a bigger booth near NCART and RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America).

"We'll be there to talk about legislative advocacy, what's going on on Capitol Hill and certification," Margolis said. "We're trying to create a synergy that really works. I think we can do it. If we can pull it off on a small scale this year, then we will work with Medtrade again."

Other new features on tap for the October show include:

  • stronger educational courses, many of which will offer
    continuing education units at what Gaffney called an "accessible"
  • the addition of a "Hot Topics" conference to address
    up-to-the-minute developments;
  • an interactive New Products pavilion with video presentations
    and live demonstrations; and
  • a last-day consumer-oriented event with a discussion of
    consumer/clinician advocacy, how it works and why it is important.
    Gaffney said he is working with patient and clinician groups to
    attend the session and get some free time on the exhibit floor
    where users could see products and talk to manufacturers.

A 'Rich Discussion'

The plans are garnering strong support.

Speaking to media representatives earlier this month at Invacare's headquarters, Carl Will, senior vice president, homecare, North America, said the manufacturer "is going to great lengths" to work with Nielsen on changing Medtrade's direction. He said he is looking for four components at the newly designed show.

"We want it to be an advocacy show," he said, noting that Medtrade should be the place where all industry stakeholders meet yearly. "The next part is, we want a market of providers but also clinicians and beneficiaries … If you want to show someone what you do, it's not how you do Medicare billing, it's not your income statements — in this industry, it's the interface with clinicians and beneficiaries."