Julie Kirst, Editor

We all know reform is coming to health care, but how it will affect us individually or as an industry remains unclear. What does remain clear is that we still face perilous times. In his January 27, 2010, State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed the burden the recession has placed on American families—such as working harder and longer for less. In his speech he stated, “One in 10 Americans still cannot find work.”

In a recent poll on our Web site, 24×7 asked if, in these times of economic hardship, your department had experienced any layoffs. Of those who responded, 25.5% said yes and 74.5% said no. While it’s good news that the no responses outweighed those who had experienced layoffs, more than 25% is still a significant number.

These hardships will continue to test us, but the good news is the challenges have led us to reevaluate and redefine how we live and work. Sometimes all it takes is a new view, such as looking at something right in front of us that presents a new opportunity. I’ve received some press releases recently that point to potential avenues for success in the health care arena, both individually and as a department.

Outside the Box

One release I received talked about Jay Myers, the founder and CEO of Interactive Solutions Inc (ISI), a Memphis, Tenn-based firm that specializes in video conferencing and telemedicine, who faced the same situation as many others now face when he was laid off. He started ISI in 1996 and now runs his $14 million company with 40 employees. According to the release, the company has installed nearly 1,000 telemedicine video conferencing suites throughout the world.

Myers links his business with a philanthropic aim and helps connect physicians and specialists in their fields with patients in small towns and rural areas who don’t have access to the best treatment. Myers has released a new book, Keep Swinging, (www.keepswingingbook.com) marketed more as a “don’t do” cautionary tale than a “how to” business success book. He says his book does not just focus on how to build a successful business, but it’s also about “how to overcome adversity in your life.”

An area of health care opening up that presents possible growth for biomeds is home health care. 24×7’s July 2009 article, “In Home, In-House,” explored how the team at San Diego-based Rady Children’s Hospital successfully manage, repair, and track equipment that comes in from the home.

On this topic, I received a press release in November 2009 about a new report released by FRANdata stating that the home health care industry grew by 13% each year between 2006 and 2008.

A July/August 2009 article from Medtech Insight also addressed this topic saying “The US home health care market, valued at nearly $4.5 billion in 2009, is set to experience steady growth in the years ahead.” The article listed a critical need for cost-effective solutions for patients with long-term chronic conditions and the increasing use of technology to meet the needs of those receiving home-based medical care as drivers of this growth. Medtech Insight‘s report—”US Markets for Home Health Care Products”—stated that sales revenues for the major home health care product segments are expected to reach $5.2 billion by 2012.

It may take some thought and a solid plan to devise a way to counteract diminished funds for hospitals, but down times can spur imagination and growth. Perhaps these ideas can inspire you and your department to discover a need and a way to fill it that will bring financial rewards.

Julie Kirst