ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS
Assistive technology products are designed to assist people who, because of specific disabilities or the general infirmities that often accompany aging, would otherwise be unable to participate meaningfully in economic, social, political, cultural and other forms of human activity in their communities. Assistive technology encompasses a broad range of devices, from “low-tech” products such as eyeglasses and large-print books, to technologically sophisticated products such as voice synthesizers, Braille readers and wireless monitoring devices.
BCC published its last report on disabled and elderly assistive technologies in 2011. Since that time, continued progress in medical science as well as technology and healthcare, combined with demographic trends, societal evolution and changing attitudes, have continued to drive the market for assistive technologies. Thus, it would seem that the time has come for a new review of the market’s overall size and direction.
There been substantial growth in the number of disabled and elderly people, and they are living longer lives and living independently or semi-independently longer. These individuals need to perform activities such as shopping, personal hygiene and communications that once might have been performed by a family member or an institutional caregiver.
Not only do many disabled and elderly people need to perform basic activities for themselves, but they have also undergone a revolution in their life expectations. They may now expect to be gainfully employed, participate in the political process, and attend cultural and social events, to name only some of the possibilities.
These changes have coincided with dramatic shifts in public and professional attitudes toward the disabled and the elderly. Persons with disabilities, including the elderly, are now considered full citizens entitled to receive a range of services of their choosing to maintain their quality of life and enjoy full inclusion in society.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which took effect July 26, 1992, is the clearest expression of this attitudinal shift. The ADA says, in essence, that participation in the mainstream of daily life is an American right, regardless of race, religion or disability.
The ADA contains provisions dealing with equality of employment, equal access to government services, equal access to private businesses that deal with the public and telecommunications for the disabled. Subsequent legislation and decisions by the courts have clarified and extended the basic provisions of the ADA in a process that has continued up to the present. These demographic, social, political and legal developments have created an opportunity as well as a challenge for medical technology and manufacturing to develop and commercialize new products.
Another recent piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, is likely to have a significant impact on the market for various assistive technologies. Among its other provisions, the new law imposes a tax on medical devices such as prosthetic limbs, pacemakers and wheelchairs that will increase the cost of these devices and may decrease their use.
The new health law contains various other provisions that could have a significant impact on the market for assistive technologies, particularly through changes in Medicare. There is considerable controversy about the eventual extent of these impacts. However, the uncertainty about the healthcare law’s impact on the assistive technologies market makes this an opportune time to look at alternative scenarios.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of the report is to examine market opportunities for assistive technology products that are now on the market or that are likely to enter the market over the rest of the decade. Specific objectives of the report include analyzing the following:
- Major product types and applications, both commercial and developmental.
- Market size and segmentation, including historical data on sales by application and product type.
- Market drivers and constraints.
- Detailed market projections through 2018.
- Industry structure, competition and market shares.
- Factors that may influence the long-term market for assistive technologies.
The report has been written explicitly for those with an interest in disabled and elderly care issues, including the following:
- Healthcare professionals.
- Manufacturers and distributors.
- Regulators and health insurers.
- The financial and analyst community.
The report is tailored especially for readers with an interest in the marketing, financial and management dimensions of the assistive technologies industry. However, readers with a more general interest in disabled and elderly care may find it useful as well.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
The report focuses on the U.S. market for the various types of devices and products that are on the market or under development to enable disabled and elderly persons to move about, see, hear, speak, dress themselves and perform many other everyday activities as “normally” as possible. Where practical, market developments on the global level are also addressed, although in less detail than domestic market developments.
In the past few years, BCC has published a number of other reports in related areas, such as prosthetics and orthotics, microelectronic medical implants, drugs for the elderly, and antiaging products. The findings and conclusions of these other reports will be cited in this report, where appropriate, for the sake of completeness. However, it is not the author’s intention to duplicate their coverage and analysis; attention will be focused instead on the following:
- Mobility- and dexterity-enhancing products.
- Products for the vision-, hearing-, and speech-impaired.
- Toileting and incontinence products.
- Medical/personal monitoring products.
- Other products such as environmental controls and daily living aids.
This report does not cover physical therapy and exercise equipment designed for the elderly and disabled. The scope of this report also does not include therapeutic treatments such as surgery that are intended to mitigate or eliminate the underlying causes of a particular disability.
In terms of format, the report is divided into the following major sections:
- Technologies used in disabled and elderly care products.
- Conditions and applications addressed.
- Product types.
- Legal, regulatory and insurance issues.
- Patent and intellectual property issues.
- Market size and segmentation.
- Market drivers.
- Market projections from 2012 through 2018.
- Industry size and structure.
- Competition and market shares.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this study. The findings and conclusions of this report are based on information gathered from manufacturers and distributors, hospitals, doctors, and other end users. Interview data were combined with information gathered through an extensive review of secondary sources such as trade publications, trade associations, company literature and online databases to produce the baseline market estimates contained in this report.
The base year for analysis and projection is 2012. With 2012 as a baseline, market projections were developed for 2013 through 2018. These projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with our understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from an historical and analytical perspective. The analytical methodologies used to generate the market estimates are described in detail in the section on Detailed Market Projections.
Unless otherwise stated, all dollar projections presented in this report are in 2012 constant dollars.
The author of this report is Andrew McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams, a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm of 43rd Parallel LLC, is the author of the previous edition of this report. He is also the author of several other BCC Research studies related to the subject of this report, including HLC016D Microelectronic Medical Implants: Products, Technologies and Opportunities; HLC038C Patient Monitoring; HLC054C Global Markets and Technologies for Home Medical Equipment; HLC045A Prosthetics, Orthotics and Cosmetic Enhancement Products; HLC014E Global Markets for Telemedicine Technologies; HLC048D Healthcare Information Technology; HLC066B Medical Automation Technologies, Products and Markets; and HLC070A Preventive Healthcare Technologies, Products and Markets.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.