Health care: Brownmed’s Intellinetix line of vibration therapy products are expected to be high in demand among active retirees in the Boomer ranks

For most of his 20 years in the medical-device business, Ivan Brown has dealt with making and selling products that help patients recover from injury and surgery—patients of all ages. But demographics are opening new vistas for his company, Brownmed. “The likelihood of either injury or surgery increases as we age because our musculoskeletal challenges increase,” says Brown, whose Boston company has its sales force based in Kansas City. “The injuries may not be sports-related as much as from normal daily activity that happens from just living.”


What’s changing in his sector is that people are living longer because they’re healthier and active. There are plenty of indications that many Boomers—a generation not unfamiliar with matters of self—will want to remain that way, even past age 85 and beyond. “So we have to think: How do our products need to change to adapt to an older customer set?” Brown said. That includes products that address an individual’s ability to maintain his balance and remain mobile, Brown said. “They do have more pain, and one of the ways they manage is by just sitting—that’s not good. We can help them get healthier, but they won’t be mobile unless we can figure out how to help deal with pain.”

That very challenge presents choices about whether that pain can be managed with medical devices, or requires pharmaceuticals. “Both will do well,” Brown said, “but increasingly, choices we’re making prefer a more conservative approach through a natural healing process. With chronic pain, you can’t just take a pill and the problem goes away.”

And because the healing process takes longer as we get older, there will be demand for more physical therapists, podiatrists and pain-management specialists, he noted.

All of this is fueling an unprecedented level of medical-device innovation. “There’s an exponential increase in the amount of innovation occurring today because of the whole migration of choices in health care from doctor-provided and doctor-directed care to patient-directed,” he said. “It’s really becoming a patient-choice world, where patients are deciding to take charge of their issues and do something about it themselves, rather than let others tell them what’s wrong and determine what needs to be done. That patient choice is really going to influence medical device innovation.”