RALEIGH, N.C. – Show organizers capped off last week’s Medtrade West with the New Product Pavilion Providers’ Choice Awards, sponsored by HomeCare Magazine. The BiliTouch Phototherapy Blanket from Motif Medical took home the most attendee votes, earning the Gold Award.
Why did the device do so well? Medtrade Monday sat down with Brandon Fonville, director of Motif Medical, Raleigh and Asheville, N.C., to learn more about the product and its development.
Medtrade Monday: Please tell us about the product and its development.
Brandon Fonville: The BiliTouch is a photo therapy blanket device used for the treatment of infants diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia, commonly known as neonatal jaundice. There have been a few of these in the industry throughout the years.
Medtrade Monday: What makes your take on this product different from the rest?
Fonville: One of the core principles of Motif Medical, and what makes us different from a lot of medical device manufacturers, is we really think about DME and HME companies first in the products we develop. We listen to our customers. We work with some of the largest DMEs in the industry, and we hear their pain points, such as declining reimbursement. With our breast pump, for example, we strive to make the best possible product that fits within the reimbursement rate that the DME is working with.
With that philosophy in mind, we were hearing that the bili blanket was a real pain point in the industry. A lot of providers were getting out of phototherapy blankets. We were hearing about a lot of availability issues and a lot of maintenance issues. We were hearing lots of complaints.
(left to right): York Schwab, show director; Brandon Fonville (Motif); Jason Ivey (Motif);
Megan Alexander (Motif); and Jim Harmon, associate publisher, HomeCare.
Medtrade Monday: When did you start looking at the possibility of manufacturing your own blanket?
Fonville: About three years ago we decided to start exploring producing our own. Another part of our core philosophy is taking feedback and trying to improve upon those other products based on what we’re hearing from our DME customers. So it’s been three years in the making; and a lot of time with the FDA. We were just in time for Medtrade West because we received our clearance and were able to officially begin marketing the BiliTouch. Medtrade West was our first chance to take the temperature and gauge response to the product. Winning the Providers’ Choice award—well, we couldn’t expect anything better than that. That was great.
Medtrade Monday: What kind of conversations were you having with Medtrade West attendees?
Fonville: A lot of the concerns around phototherapy blankets are around the maintenance. Is it a durable unit? Do I have to test the lightbulbs? Do the lights denigrate over time? Those are all things we addressed when producing our unit. We not only made it durable with modern LED lights, but we also addressed the needs of the parents by including a battery, so it’s portable, lightweight, small, and a modern-looking device—which all make it easier for parents to bond with their baby.
Medtrade Monday: What were your expectations going into the show?
Fonville: We knew the excitement was there from anecdotally mentioning it to our current customers. We were excited about the product because we knew how much we were improving upon the current offerings. Fortunately our booth was quite busy with inquiries.
Medtrade Monday: How well are providers marketing these products?
Fonville: New moms, babies, and womens’ health are underrepresented categories within DME, and Motif is trying to bring awareness. Years ago the Affordable Care Act created a new category for the breast pump, and it was an awareness campaign to let the mothers know that this was a covered benefit. Now that is mostly common knowledge. Motif is bringing these additional products to market in a similar way. Our marketing is often times an awareness campaign to mothers and providers. Part of what we offer providers is sharing our knowledge of what works with marketing and awareness around these devices.
Medtrade Monday: What’s your level of optimism these days?
Fonville: We’re very optimistic. The response from the show and our initial rollout through our own marketing has been overwhelming. Now we’re beginning to fully ramp up our production in to meet everyone’s needs.