The Importance of Trade Shows for Prosthetics Businesses
COVVI’s CEO Simon Pollard travelled to Las Vegas next week to attend the Hanger Education Fair, and will mark COVVI’s first adventure into the big wide world since our hand started to take real shape. As part of this, he will be presenting our prototype to the Hanger upper-limb specialist and other leading clinicians in the prosthetics field – a pivotal moment for COVVI’s future!
So, although we won’t be exhibiting at Hanger this year, trade shows aren’t just there for putting up stalls and handing out leaflets (and it’s certainly not just about the complimentary promotional plunder) but are real opportunities to learn new things as a business and generate conversations with like-minded peers within the wider industry. In fact, as per protocol in the American healthcare system for prosthetists, clinicians have to attend a number of trade shows and education fairs in order to retain their right to practice! This is because the workshops and lectures on offer teach about best practice, and the use of new and developing technologies available, and therefore a fundamental component in the prosthetist’s toolkit.
There are some really great shows around the world that are specifically for prosthetics and orthotics (devices that support mobility, such as braces): in addition to the Hanger Education fair, there is also the AOPA National Assembly in California, ISPO which takes place in a few locations across the globe, the German OT World, and also a couple of British events like BAPO in Harrogate and TIPS in Manchester.
Prosthetics as an industry, particularly as far as bionic multi-articulating devices go, is still very much in its infancy and so if you were to try and ‘Google it’ you may have a difficult time finding what you’re looking for without specific search terms (unlike if you were to search ‘smartphone’, for example). Therefore, trade shows are crucial incubators for the few big players, and many smaller ones, to network with clinicians and potential stakeholders to get their name and accompanying products out there.
And to think, every one of the brains behind prosthetics and orthotics businesses have created them to try make a real difference to the lives of people with limb differences: on a local, national and international scale, and in many varied styles and forms. The union of all of these minds with their creations in hand, along with the medical professionals who match prosthetic devices to patients, results in a highly inspiring environment offering much hope for the future in patient-centred care.
In addition to networking, and benefiting from the educational aspect of learning about different approaches to prosthetics, trade shows enable companies just starting up, like COVVI, to find their feet and move to the next level from initial concepts and prototyping. The feedback stage is a sometimes painful but always necessary benefit of attending these events – by offering concepts on a plate to the people who have been working with amputees for many years, congenital or otherwise, prosthetics businesses can then propagate their valuable feedback to evolve their designs to better suit the requirements of clinicians as well as patients.
Gaining the approval of clinicians and prosthetics users in this forum is effectively a springboard into a vast and potentially unlimited world of opportunities for businesses, which in turn means greater accessibility and better technology for people in need of prosthetic devices. So really, trade shows like the Hanger Education Fair are win-win events for all parties, extending way beyond the perimeters of the exhibition space.