Absence of legal and regulatory protocols in India pertaining to patient handling for patients as well as caregivers is hampering the growth of the market.
There is no such thing as safe manual lifting of patients. Healthcare workers experience some of the highest rates of occupational injuries of any industry, exceeding even construction and manufacturing. And the single greatest risk factor – manual patient handling. Because patient moves and transfers are strenuous on staff and lead to high risk of nonfatal injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, patients also risk potential injury from improper handling. Nurses are the heart of healthcare, yet they are the most injured professionals. Protection is of utmost importance.
What can one do? That is just the way it is – it comes with the territory. In healthcare, as in life, we submit to this adage frequently. But when it comes to nurses and back injuries, it is a mindset that should be consigned to the past. Patient handling equipment plays a prime role in the prevention of these musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. Currently, there is a variety of equipment available including wheelchairs and mobility scooters, medical beds, bathroom safety equipment, mechanical and nonmechanical equipment, and ambulatory aids. The handling equipment provides flexibility and relaxation to the patient. Research shows assistive technology and safe patient handling program help reduce potential injuries, while improving the quality of patient care.
Moving and handling concerns are magnified with bariatric patients given their size and weight and also poses risk of injury for staff and patients alike. Obesity is becoming a worldwide challenge with a growing number of people becoming overweight. Close to
10 percent of medical spending is on bariatric patients, and for the healthcare system, this presents a unique challenge. There is a real need to install suitable bariatric equipment in the hospitals.
Global initiatives to tackle these problems include delineation of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards and provision of comprehensive training programs. While OSH standards have become mature and are widely adopted in most parts of the world, the effectiveness of training programs specifically on safety outcomes requires further investigation. Hospitals that implement safe patient handling and moving policies may find these practices associated with fewer injuries among healthcare workers.
The healthcare system in India has unique challenges. The country does not have a set regulation and legal protocol for safe patient handling in various healthcare settings. Small and medium end-users are not aware of the benefits of patient handling equipment. Poor government initiatives to improve the quality of patient care by developing policies and guidelines for safe patient handling and mandating the use of patient handling equipment are major demotivating factors for the growth of the patient handling equipment market in the country.
The global patient handling equipment market is expected to reach USD 17.18 billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 10.5 percent from 2017 to 2021, predicts MarketsandMarkets. Rising geriatric population, increasing incidence of disabilities, high risk of injuries to caregivers, and the implementation of regulations against the manual lifting of heavy loads are the major factors driving the growth of the market. Lack of training provided to caregivers is one of the major restraints to the market growth.
The increasing focus on regulations and guidelines for safety manual handling by the government provides a lucrative growth opportunity for the market. Many developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States are adopting zero manual lift policies that prescribe the use of patient handling equipment. These guidelines and regulations are designed by the government authorities to assist in introducing ergonomic solutions to the healthcare providers to reduce physical injury and stress due to manual handling of patients.
Europe accounted for the largest share of the market in 2016, while highest growth was accounted by North America. In Europe, the United Kingdom has a strong hold on the market due to increasing demand for patient handling equipment and is expected to show lucrative growth in coming years. Government regulations mandating the use of patient handling equipment in North America, are expected to drive the market in the region. Asia-Pacific market is growing due to the development of new technologies for safe patient handling and increasing geriatric and obese population, and it is expected to grow at a healthy rate over the next five years.
Increasing numbers of mergers and acquisitions, a rise in the number of collaborations and partnerships, and rapid product launches are some of the latest trends in the market. Key participants operating in the global market are Getinge, Hill-Rom, Invacare, and Stryker. Other prominent vendors include Benmor Medical, Etac, Guldmann, Joerns Healthcare, Linet Americas, Mangar Health, Stiegelmeyer, and Sunrise Medical (acquired by Nordic Capital).
Technology has improved and expanded the equipment options for use in patient handling. There is substantial evidence that ergonomic use of equipment to assist with patient handling is associated with decreases in injuries among healthcare providers. New technologies offer the potential to eliminate or mitigate preventable adverse events that interfere with treatment and compromise patient safety, while this has additional potential for facilitating the goals of rehabilitation and improving patient outcomes.
Air-assisted technology. To prevent staff from engaging in a manual lift during lateral transfer, vendors are offering mattresses that operate on air-assisted technology to boost and position patients comfortably and safely. When staff inflates the mattress, air lifts the patient within five seconds. Air escapes through tiny holes on the bottom which acts as a lubricant and breaks the friction plane, making it 90 percent easier than a slide board. It also prevents post-op bleeding, dislocations, and bruising due to transfers. It helps to move and transfer patients from the bed to the stretcher, or vice versa.
Automatic patient repositioning. For a patient, repositioning is an uncomfortable, unsafe, and often embarrassing experience. For administration, traditional repositioning causes lost work days, caregiver inefficiencies, and potentially negative patient experiences. To address these issues, manufacturers are launching systems that allow a single caregiver to reposition a patient up in bed with the simple push of a button.
Advanced ceiling lifts. Recent electrically operated ceiling lifts also offer an optional integrated patient weigh scale and IQ technology that provides intuitive diagnostics for a smarter lifting program, including supplying data on number of lifts, hours in use, low battery operation, and service alerts. They help care providers transfer patients from beds to stretchers or wheelchairs and can even help them walk. Portable devices can be moved from room to room. The lifting equipment uses slings or vests to hold patients securely and reduce the risk of slipping, falling, or being dropped when walking.
Modern medical beds. Smart beds are capable of sensing the patient's position, alerting the clinicians regarding any issues, and transmitting the data to the hospital's electronic medical record (EMR). New technologies, such as anti-fall warning lights and sounds help protect high-risk patients by monitoring local bed status and alert clinicians if preset parameters are compromised.
Bed-rail entrapment is a serious adverse event, which includes patients being trapped, entangled, or strangled in beds. New technologies to prevent bed-rail entrapment include new hospital bed designs, height-adjustable low beds, devices to close gaps in legacy beds, and bedside floor mats.
Smart power wheelchairs. The disabled people with visual acuity, lack of motor skills, and strength find it difficult to use a power wheelchair. To solve this problem, several researchers have used mobile robots technologies to create smart wheelchairs that typically contain a standard power wheelchair, a computer, and a collection of sensors. Recent developments in the wheelchair also include the facility to adjust one's own position for comfort, allowing the user to go from sitting, to standing while maintaining mobility for more self-independence.
Automated stretchers. There has been a strong emphasis on automation leading to column lift mechanisms for medical stretchers. The market now has medical stretchers with single-button locking and a steering function for maneuvering that has also been a major enabler for enhancing patient care through design upgrades.
Bariatric lifting equipment. As the number of overweight people continues to rise, so does the pressure on hospitals and healthcare workers to address the issue. Manufacturers are launching equipment to provide comfort and safety while transferring plus size patients, such as a ceiling lift solution that utilizes twin lift cassettes mounted on rotatable trolley and have increased weight holding capacity of more than 450 kg.
Management of musculoskeletal disorders and back injuries associated with manual handling among healthcare workers has long been a challenge in the healthcare industry. The cumulative effect ranging from excessive movement and repetitive stress to wrists, hands, and back when lifting loads and handling patients resulted in persistent pain and adverse impact on quality of life of the injured workers. While the process of manual handling operations is inevitable in the healthcare sector, using an ergonomic approach with consideration of human factors for work and equipment design has been found to be effective in relieving musculoskeletal stress.
A number of high-end super-specialty healthcare facilities are coming up in the country, which are willing to invest in the latest products for patient care. Financially equipped patients are also driven toward hospitals with modern facilities, thereby providing traction to the patient handling equipment market in the country. The growing prevalence of chronic diseases, technological advances, and growing demand for better healthcare services are some of the major drivers for the market in India. Moreover, an increasing number of hospitalization cases, rising healthcare expenditure, and growing need for multifunctional and affordable medical equipment are other factors that will support the growth of this market in the near future.