The Human Body Is Made to Move – Nordic Global Medtech Leader in Products & Solutions For People with Reduced Mobility and Age-Related Health Challenges | H.E.R.O. Issue 8, 2 November 2020
The human body is made to move. Research shows that there is a clear link between mobility and people’s physical and mental well-being.
Increasing a patient’s mobility during the healthcare process helps decrease unnecessary suffering. This can include loss of muscle strength, blood clots, bedsores, and increased risk of falls, as well as anxiety and depression. By supporting patients maintain their mobility using modern equipment, these complications can be avoided, with improved self-esteem as a result. Early mobility makes a big difference. Many patients in intensive care units have highly restricted mobility. During long hospital stays, they risk both physical and mental complications. This can, for example, impact the heart and lungs, skin and muscles, and even the brain. In many cases, the time spent in hospital means that it can take several months, or even years, before patients are rehabilitated and return to their normal lives. Thus, increased mobility drives a chain reaction of positive results for both the patient, caregiver, and ultimately also the healthcare providers.
This week, we highlight one of our portfolio companies, Nordic Global Medtech Leader in Products and Solutions For People with Reduced Mobility and Age-Related Health Challenges, which is up +7.7% during the week (26 to 30 Oct 2020) vs MSCI ACWI World index -5.2%, after it had announced on 28 Oct 2020 a strong set of 3Q2020 results, in which sales grew 5.8% yoy and operating profit jumped 67% yoy. This rising dividend-yielding highly-profitable and cashflow generative innovator has also compounded +177.4% in capital gains in the recent 3 years vs MSCI ACWI World index +8.6%.
The medtech innovator specializing in patient handling, hygiene, disinfection, medical beds, therapeutic surfaces, venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention and diagnostics had also announced on 8 Oct 2020 the acquisition of a US-based company that is developing solutions for biometric diagnosis, which include an innovative portable SEM skin tissue assessment scanner that biometric sensor technology to measure sub-epidermal moisture (SEM), which allows early detection of pressure injury risk and thereby reduce patient suffering and healthcare costs. Pressure injuries represent a common and significant economic challenge for healthcare systems worldwide, costing healthcare more than US$24.8 billion each year in the US alone. Current detection methods of pressure injuries rely on subjective visual judgement; however the clinical guidelines issued in 2019 suggest increased focus on the SEM technology, a more objective and reliable evaluation that can help detect pressure injuries days before they are visible to the human eye. With this acquisition, the company significantly strengthens its offering in the fast growing wound care segment, and fuels the company’s transition towards becoming a mobility outcome partner to healthcare.
The H.E.R.O. PQ (Purpose Quotient) journey began in 1957 when Swedish entrepreneur Mr. J was one of the first to understand the need for bathing and transfer equipment in healthcare and elderly care as well as for improved ergonomics for healthcare professionals. He developed a series of innovative products that could meet these needs in Sweden. The products were in high demand and the company expanded its products to Europe and the US, and soon became a global player in products and equipment for hygiene and patient handling. In 1972, the company launched the first height-adjustable bathtub. In 1989, the company developed the first generation of SARA (standing and raising aid) and later on the patient lifter system. The development of innovative technology continued, including special mattresses for treating pressure injuries, beds for intensive care, specialist care and nursing homes, products for preventing deep vein thrombosis and equipment for fetal and vascular diagnostics.
Over a year, the company has an average of 20,000 active customers, of which 80–85% were also active customers in the preceding year. This diversified and recurring customer base means that the company has sound revenue visibility and low operating risk. A large and diversified customer base over many years also means that the company has a large base of products installed with customers, providing favorable conditions for significant additional sales. Aftermarket services such as service and consumables generally have higher margins.
The company operates in a market featuring stable and high demand. Hospital-acquired conditions, such as pressure injuries and venous thromboembolisms (VTE), cause patients enormous suffering and result in large costs for healthcare providers. This is often entirely avoidable. Pressure injuries arise when patients are unable to change position or, for example, when layers of skin rub against each other. Poor blood circulation leads to reddening, possible pain and discomfort, and at a later stage, open wounds that can damage muscles and bones. VTE includes blood clots in the deep veins of the leg, deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), and blood clots in the lungs, causing extensive suffering and long hospital stays for those affected. Patients are particularly exposed during long-term immobility, such as after operations. VTE often occurs without warning and can be life-threatening. Each year, about 10 million cases occur globally and, like pressure injuries, involve considerable annual costs to the healthcare sector.
Pressure injury prevalence and incidence remains high despite several advances in technology, education programs and guidelines, causing patient suffering and even mortality, and leading to increased healthcare costs. A growing older population is likely to increase injury rates even further in the coming years. Moreover, a study from NHS in 2018 suggested evidence that between 1,700 to 2,000 patients develop a pressure injury every month, costing the NHS almost US$5 million per day to treat. Annual costs for treating this type of sore exceed US$10 billion every year in the US alone. Such injuries can cause significant pain and suffering and are expected to increase in line with an aging population. Today, countries like the US and UK have adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to avoidable pressure injuries. The company has significant experience in helping its customers reduce problems with pressure injuries and VTE. With the right solutions, unnecessary suffering and high costs can be prevented.
Work-related injuries are a major problem in healthcare. Every year, a large number of people working in the healthcare sector are affected by muscular skeletal disorders. In addition to causing pain to healthcare professionals, patients are at risk of being subject to lower quality care. The company has for a long time worked to ensure that safe transfers can be performed by a single caregiver with the right knowledge and equipment. The company’s products are easy to use and allow staff, who may be stressed, to lift and transfer patients without the risk of injury. The company offers a comprehensive range of standing and raising aids for all mobility levels, promoting rehabilitation and encouraging patients to retain their mobility level Solutions for early mobility enable patients in intensive care to mobilize early and often, and in a safe and optimal manner. This helps improve care outcomes and maximize healthcare flows. The company’s solutions ensure that care facilities are equipped for the increasing challenges of plus size patients, helping deliver safe, cost efficient and dignified care.
The company commands a unique leadership position in all its product categories and has innovative product launches that are one step ahead of the competition.
Today, approximately 50 million people worldwide live with dementia, and the condition affects more than 60% of long-term care residents In May 2019, three of its products were accredited by the world’s leading dementia research institute. This shows that its product design is one step ahead of the competition.
Two other breakthrough new products were launched in 2019. Wound Care helps in the treatment of a new an growing area in difficult to heal leg ulcers, today costing billions to treat. Another is the Alternating Pressure Mattress System for pressure injury prevention, designed to treat and prevent complications for patients with reduced mobility and compromised skin integrity, including a fluid resistant, vapor permeable mattress cover that functions as a protective barrier against bacteria and viruses.
The company has seen an increased demand for medical beds, therapeutic surfaces and within rental since the COVID outbreak. Many intensive care patients undergo highly demanding treatment for a long period of time, and subsequently experience several long-term functional impairments, such as muscular weakness and reduced mobility as a result of a loss of muscle or muscle function. Reduced mobility also makes it difficult for patients to independently manage activities in daily life, making the recovery phase after Covid-19 both staff intense and costly. With the right skills for healthcare professionals and the right work procedures and processes, patient handling equipment, such as standing and raising aids, will be a valuable solution for patients striving to increase their mobility during rehabilitation.
Another important area for the care and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients is preventing blood clots in the veins, also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), something costing the global healthcare sector billions of dollars every year. The company’s solutions for VTE prevention, such as IPC pumps and garments, jointly comprise a simple, comfortable and therapeutically effective solution that stimulates movement, resulting in blood circulation in the legs’ deep veins.
CEO Mr. L commented: “The challenges associated with Covid-19 remain, including the extensive need for rehabilitation of patients who required prolonged intensive care – a process that is both staff intense and costly, and where we play a key role. We continue to see a product mix dominated by acute needs related to the pandemic with high demand in medical beds, therapeutic mattresses and rental. The recent acquisition of a US-based company that is developing solutions for biometric diagnosis, which include an innovative portable SEM skin tissue assessment scanner that biometric sensor technology to measure sub-epidermal moisture (SEM), which allows early detection of pressure injury risk and thereby reduce patient suffering and healthcare costs, strengthens our offering in the fast growing wound care market – an area with significant growth potential over the next few years. Outcome-based solutions will become increasingly important in the future as healthcare systems and elderly care remains under pressure.