There is significant opportunity within what some suppliers are calling “light DME” — those daily living aids essential to people who need durable medical equipment solutions. And while the standard definition of DME drums up images of motorized wheelchairs or incliner/recliner sofas, those big-ticket items supplemented by Medicare do not necessarily represent the best opportunity for mass retailers. It’s the smaller items — canes, extended-handle instruments and bathroom safety — that are more often the cash items that represent the opportunity.
“We still see an absolutely huge gap,” said Matt McElduff, president of Carex Health Brands. Currently, food, drug and mass pharmacy outlets are capturing approximately one-third of that market, McElduff noted. “As the Medicare pressures continue [and] with competitive bidding going into round two, it’s going to emphasize the need for retail,” he continued. “Assuming this round two [of competitive bidding] goes as planned, there will be [fewer] outlets available for the general consumer to find or buy these products.”
According to Carex figures, the total universe of what they call “light DME” represents $806 million, with food, drug and mass capturing $266 million. Like a diabetes patient with the multitude of prescriptions they fill, the DME patient represents a strong pharmacy book of business, so making a significant linear-foot merchandising commitment could help establish that section as a destination center for future DME-patients.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete DME/Diabetes Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.