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Thread: Attachment for Manual Wheelchair that Converts to Powered Wheelchair

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProPulse View Post
    It really made us question what price the product should be sold at. We needed to balance being able to lift this company of off the ground, while keeping true to our vision of "Undenied Mobility" to all wheelchair users. That's part of the reason why I came here. I really wanted to know what users would honestly be comfortable paying? How much is too much, where they have to choose between groceries and a product that can truly give back a substantial amount of independence or even just allow users to relax their shoulders for the day. It's tough, especially when just a few months ago we knew nothing about business, only engineering.
    Engineering is easy; business is hard. I'd gladly sit in my office and design things that can be given away -- just to avoid the hassle of being "profitable". (unfortunately, few of us are "made of money"!)

    Look at the history of DME businesses "struggling" -- despite "outrageous" (?) prices for the kit they sell. Study their pricing before you decide what you can "afford" (to sell)

  2. #42
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
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    I have a comment about pricing.

    Most recent stat I'm aware of said that only ~20% of folks with SCI work. Meaning, they exist on public (or private) disability benefits (I.e. Social Security, LTD, Workers Comp), and even a few thousand dollars can easily be out of reach for the vast majority of your potential market. Leading me to my point:

    Most DME for our population is paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. Relatively few of us have private insurance. Even fewer can pay out of pocket, even at a "good" price. Medicare is currently registering products like yours (most similar to the ZX-1) under the HCPCS code "K0108: Wheelchair Accessory, not otherwise specified". Push-rim activated power devices are under a different code, but yours is most like the ZX-1 (under the chair with a joy stick), so I assume you'd have the same coding.

    This code is priced on a case by case basis, aka "carrier priced", at the carrier's discretion. ("Carrier" is basically the Medicare regional contractor). The ZX-1 is priced ~$10,000 retail, ~$7,000 MAP. DMEs hard-sell products with the best margins. It's a tough business. You're competitive advantage on price might not matter as much as you hope, at the end of the day, if, in fact, other similar products registered under the same code have better margins. Price needs to provide profitability for the entire manufacturing/supply/distribution chain, AND be profitable using Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement amounts, if you expect to have DMEs signing up to sell your product.

    Food for thought.
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

  3. #43
    @automation Ah, I see what you are saying now. A nice middle ground would be a "quick release" of the wired joystick that would come with the product. This way, anyone who wants to upgrade to the Bluetooth recommended interface, they can buy it from amazon. Injection molding will unquestionably be a formidable challenge. As of now, we just have to mold the casing but I am sure that will change in the future. In all, those were all great and valid points you've made! I'll be keeping all of these in mind as we move forward with the design process

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by automation View Post
    Engineering is easy; business is hard. I'd gladly sit in my office and design things that can be given away -- just to avoid the hassle of being "profitable". (unfortunately, few of us are "made of money"!)

    Look at the history of DME businesses "struggling" -- despite "outrageous" (?) prices for the kit they sell. Study their pricing before you decide what you can "afford" (to sell)
    Do you think that the crazy prices for the kits are simply to keep the bushiness afloat or taking advantage of a system where they know that they can charge high prices since that's what 'everyone does'? (by system I mean the healthcare system)
    Last edited by ProPulse; 04-03-2019 at 08:00 PM.

  5. #45
    @OddityVERY helpful information on pricing, especially the HCPCS code. I agree, K0108 is much closer to our product. It's been made very obvious to me that Medicare is the holy grail of the industry. We will have to set ourselves up in a way where, by the time we approach medicare, COGS are so low that margins are sufficient to feed all mouths in the distribution chain. That's going to be the only way that we can keep B2C prices at a reasonable amount at the same time.

  6. #46
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
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    I think it's mostly sustainability. The number of people using an ultra-light manual wheelchair, who would also want some power assist, is a fraction of the ~300,000-350,000 people living with SCI in the US (less than 1/2 of those are paraplegic who are far less likely to already be using a fully powered chair). Sales volume alone isn't enough in this industry, IMO. Gotta price to make enough to sustain with relatively low volume of sales. On top of all the other price pressures, I think it's mostly necessity driving prices.

    (There certainly are other mobility related disabilities that drive people into wheelchairs, but I'd be surprised if the ultra-light wheelchair market serves them in great numbers.)







    Quote Originally Posted by ProPulse View Post
    Do you think that the crazy prices for the kits are simply to keep the bushiness afloat or taking advantage of a system where they know that they can charge high prices since that's what 'everyone does'? (by system I mean the healthcare system)
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

  7. #47
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    [Look at the history of DME businesses "struggling" -- despite "outrageous" (?) prices for the kit they sell.]

    Quote Originally Posted by ProPulse View Post
    Do you think that the crazy prices for the kits are simply to keep the bushiness afloat or taking advantage of a system where they know that they can charge high prices since that's what 'everyone does'? (by system I mean the healthcare system)
    Sorry, by "kit" I mean "equipment/stuff" -- not "kits that you can assemble".

    I don't think they're "getting rich" with the prices they charge. Rather, I think the COSTS of selling into this market are just considerably higher than "commodity products".

    Kurzweil's Reading Machine had a ~$50K price tag. Surely, the (direct!) parts+labor (DM+DL) didn't cost that much. But, very few sales. And, each sale required a PERSON to travel with the device (the size of a washing machine) to get it set up and running. SOMEONE had to pay for that travel, hotel, meals, etc.!

    Why are hearing aids so expensive? I can buy a whole TV for less than the price of ONE hearing aid! Surely there's a decent sales volume -- and the cost of manufacturing can't be that high. OTOH, I don't need any "fitting" or "tuning" or "after-sale-adjustments" when I buy a TV whereas the hearing aid has lots of that sort of "support" factored into the price of the sale. (someone has got to pay for that time)

    [This is the point I am trying to make; there's a lot of "overhead" associated with a sale that isn't present for "more mainstream" (whatever that means) products.]

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by ProPulse View Post
    @nonoise Do you think it would be better to have the joystick totally separated from the chair? By totally separated I mean, the joystick can come with a wheelchair mount where it is "stored". But during use, the user just holds the joystick in a single hand to control the chair(the joystick is relatively small). This would eliminate the disruption from any mounting arms that would have to be installed. The alternative is exactly what you said, a collapsible joystick mount with hinge or quick release. We could also include both as options and the user can choose what they prefer depending on convenience and motor skills.
    Options would be the best IMO. I'm not seeing how one would use a the joystick in a single hand unless it gets some kind of a mount. But one could hold it in one hand and operate it with the other. The main thing is that it is not in the way during transfers.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oddity View Post
    Sales volume alone isn't enough in this industry, IMO. Gotta price to make enough to sustain with relatively low volume of sales. On top of all the other price pressures, I think it's mostly necessity driving prices.
    It's not just the low volumes but, also, the higher costs associated with each sale.

    My other half just bought some instructional DVDs -- direct from the "author". I'm sure the author just burned the originals onto DVD-R media and printed labels on them. Then, stuffed them in a padded envelope and affixed "standard postage" to the envelope and the sale was complete. The author didn't have to answer any questions (everyone knows how to play a DVD; and the customer self-selects whether they want to "learn" about what's covered on THAT particular DVD). Author was free to check their web site for new orders whenever it was convenient for them (e.g., could do so after their regular 9-to-5!). No phone calls to handle, etc.

    So, it's easy to figure out what your costs are in such a business and what your selling price needs to be to remain profitable. The only wild card is if something gets lost (or damaged) in the mail.Most DME isn't that cut and dry. There's more hand-holding, questions to be answered, options available, paperwork to handle, variable delivery costs, repairs, warranty replacements, etc.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonoise View Post
    Options would be the best IMO. I'm not seeing how one would use a the joystick in a single hand unless it gets some kind of a mount. But one could hold it in one hand and operate it with the other. The main thing is that it is not in the way during transfers.
    There are small joysticks (as well as trackballs) that you wear like a "ring" (on your finger) and actuate with your thumb. Check some of the links I posted, up-thread.


    If it's wireless, you just set it down "someplace convenient" (and, can then use it to remotely drive the chair to a "parking place" while not in use)

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