Medical retailers play a key role

eurocom patient survey

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin on 21.03.2024

A survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research (IfD) on behalf of eurocom shows how important medical retailers are for patients when it comes to the provision of medical products. The focus of the survey was on the use,benefits and quality of medical products, such as supports, braces, compression stockings and foot orthoses.

When medical products are used properly, patients will gain significantly more quality of life. That is the key result of a current study. Around 1,300 women and men aged 16 and older took part in the survey, which was conducted in Germany in early 2023 – for the third time after 2014 and 2019. The results substantiate the importance of medical products prescribed by physicians as part of conservative treatment. They also showed that their use has continued to increase over time. In addition to patients being educated by their physician, medical retailers play an important role during this process. Medical supply retailers and orthotic specialist retailers are the most important sources for patients to obtain the products they need. This was reported by 80 percent of those wearing supports or braces, 85 percent of those wearing medical compression stockings, and as much as 96 percent of those using foot orthoses. Four out of five respondents stated that personal on-site consultation is a crucial factor. Before customers buy products, they want to know how they work, how they should be used and how they look and feel. The haptic and visual experience, in combination with direct engagement, is more open and effective on-site than during an online consultation. The expertise experienced first-hand can then potentially result in stronger customer loyalty.

Expert consultation aids compliance

Another aspect study participants found important when buying medical products was having choice. The survey discovered a gap in this respect between preference and reality: 67 percent of those wearing compression stockings, 55 percent of those using foot orthoses and 51 percent of those wearing supports or braces think it is “very important” or “important” to be shown different models to choose from. However, only 63 percent of those wearing medical compression stockings, 46 percent of those using foot orthoses and 37 percent of those wearing supports or braces were actually shown different models. A greater choice not only offers excellent potential to ensure compliance and treatment success but also provides a chance for the medical retailer to stand out from the competition. By the way: a significant percentage of respondents was willing to choose a higher-quality or the premium model during the selection process, even if this meant higher out-of-pocket costs in addition to statutory co-payment. By providing comprehensive consultation and instruction during the purchasing of medical products, medical retailers are making an important contribution to patient compliance. Only if patients have all the information about handling, effect and cleaning of their product can they use it properly and wear it regularly. The survey has noted a positive trend in consultation services over the years. The percentage of patients reporting that they have received instruction when buying their medical compression stockings is currently 88 percent (80 percent in 2014, 85 percent in 2019). 85 percent of those wearing supports or braces have confirmed that they were comprehensively instructed in the use of their medical product (81 percent in 2019). When users of orthopedic foot orthoses were asked, at 61 percent, this was six percentage points higher compared to in 2019 with 55 percent.

Purchase from a medical retailer ensures a good fit

A medical product has to fit to exert maximum effectiveness. That is why patients are measured by specialists before buying a product. And only if the right fit is guaranteed will patients wear their product and thus take advantage of its benefits. Again, the survey shows how medical retailers demonstrate their expertise to ensure personalized care that meets their patients’ needs. Ninety-one percent of those wearing medical compression stockings were measured before choosing and being given their product – 72 percent using a tape measure and 19 percent using an electronic system. Compared to the previous surveys, the percentage of digital measurements has steadily increased (11 percent in 2014, 19 percent in 2019). Of course, during the most recent period, the Covid pandemic would have had an additional influence on digitalization because patients and employees at medical retailers preferred contact-free measurement. Whether via an impression (46 percent), digital technology (36 percent), a blueprint/footprint (13 percent) or another way (1 percent) – only two percent of those using orthopedic foot orthoses were not measured. This segment has also seen an increase in the use of digital systems compared to the previous survey (28 percent in 2019, 36 percent in 2023). Among those wearing supports or braces, 72 percent said they were measured as part of the process to receive their product (58 percent manually, 14 percent digitally). But the effort is worth it – for patients in particular. The exact, individual measurement forms the basis for a good fit. 83 percent of those wearing compression stockings, 84 percent of those using supports or braces and 82 percent of those wearing foot orthoses said that their product fit immediately. This result substantiates the positive effects experienced by patients when visiting a medical retailer. Personal on-site consultation, the exact determination of the correct size and expert instruction all pay off for users – because they gain quality of life.

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