Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Feeling deflated again

I received a call from IT. The guy who I talked with earlier today at CTS (the manufacturers of the iBOT) called IT and told them I was expressing frustration. So IT called me and asked if they could answer any of my questions.

I told him that I think the only way the iBOT could be sold successfully is if Medicare changed their guidelines. He agreed that that was a large part of the problem. I told him that I was very frustrated and didn't know how to go about trying to get those guidelines changed. He said he knows how I feel as he's been dealing with the same thing. J&J has been trying to get them to change their guidelines for the past few years and have had no success. If they can't do anything about it, how can I do anything?

Maybe I'm wasting my time and energy.

I've spent all day researching, writing, calling about the iBOT and I haven't gotten anywhere.

Anyway, the guy at IT gave me his number if I have any more questions. I am going to call him tomorrow because I do have a question for him. Up until now, it was the sales reps who would come teach assistants the stair climbing function. I'm wondering who will do that now? If anyone? I'm guessing all the sales reps no longer work for IT.

Does anyone have anything else they'd like me to ask him?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have emailed Dean Kamen through his company --http://www.dekaresearch.com/ didn't get a response did think I would but never know. Maybe if enough of us get emails to him he might help us out??

Anonymous said...

Wow! You had a rather productive, if not frustrating, day yesterday. I was told to contact the sales rep and try to get any additional people I would like trained on the stair-climbing feature trained before the end of February.

Before the iBOT, Independence Technology made the iGlide. It was a power-assisted manual wheelchair. I don't know if any of the power-assisted manual wheelchairs out there now are as nice as the iGlide was, but I have seen advertisements for several power-assisted manual wheelchairs. I have some hope that many of the features that make the iBOT so wonderful will be incorporated into other power wheelchairs.

Your blog is extremely helpful. Thanks so much for all of your hard work!

Nancy

Anonymous said...

It is sure a shame that the iBot is no longer available to people who could truely benefit. I personally know what a great device this is but also know exacrtly why it is no longer available. The company that was building it is a joke. They only care about image and not about taking care of #1... The customers.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous who said: "The company that was building it is a joke. They only care about image and not about taking care of #1... The customers."

I think that is a very unfair comment. The company helped bring the iBOT to the marketplace because they saw how it could impact the lives of the customers. Also, the iBOT was a perscription product - to ensure safety and compatability with the user - a concerned level of caring for the customers.

Shannon said...

I have to agree with the above. I think IT's customer service was/is exceptional. I'm very disappointed that they pulled the plug on the iBOT, but other than that, I have nothing but good things to say about them.

Shannon said...

Nancy,

That is true, there are other power-assisted wheelchairs available now that are like the iGlide. Good point. That gives me hope. Maybe a company who already is successful in the power wheelchair industry will pick up some of the iBOT technology.

NEK9SAR said...

Hi Folks, I just found this Blog. I just got my iBOT last July and have also been disappointed to hear that it will longer be sold by IT.

I live in New Hampshire, not far from Dean Kamen's HQ, and know a couple people who work for him. I haven't attempted yet to find out if they have any interest in taking back the iBOT rights and finding another manufacturer, but I'm sure that depends on the legal jargon of the rights that went to J&J.

As someone who's worked in publishing, radio, and TV, I'd suggest that the best way to get the word out about this situation is to call your local newspaper or TV station, and get them to do a story about YOU and your iBOT. The hook is obviously that the iBOt will no longer be available for those who really need it.

IMHO, talking to Medicare is futile. But alternately, contacting your senator or congressman might get some action (but don't hold your breath.)

--Stan

stan@k9comm.com

Anonymous said...

maybe if we keep acting like retarded idiots we get attention someday. People have some dignity and stop wining like babies. Retards!

Pat said...

For anonymous on 11 Jan.:

We're not whining babies. Nor are we undignified or retarded idiots. Nor do we need to be told to "get a life" since we all have them. The iBot broadened them for us.

Now, you've told us in your post what you expect of us. In your next post, please provide your strategy as to how we should achieve what you want. It might prove constructive. Now, here are my requirements of you. Have enough intelligence to run a spell check on what you post (Note I'm not requiring that you learn to spell). And, while there may be many good reasons to remain Anonymous, I suspect from the nature of your post that you really don't have one. Me, I proudly sign myself

Pat

Jeff said...

I just received word that my iBot was approved through my medical insurance - I don't have any idea why as I was expecting to have to appeal to my HR department, and am not going to start asking questions until I get it in my hands. I just hope it is not the last one off the assembly line. So, there will now be at least two of these in the Portland area :)

I did hear unofficially that the patent will automatically revert back to Den Kamen's outfit since J&J will not be actively using it. To me, there is some hope in this since he seems to have some passion about making his work used by people that need it.

I can't help but wonder how much the current credit crunch played into J&J dropping the ball. They obviously were losing a lot of money on this thing which would likely require reinvestment to keep the lights on. If they couldn't get financing, like so many other companies right now, it probably made it much harder for them to keep it going.

So, I wonder if seeking out and courting venture capital and investors who love innovative technology might be a worthy approach. I don't actually know anything about how to do this, but if you know someone who does, you might want to ask them.

Seems to me that baby boomers are going to be wanting stuff like this in droves in the next decade, so if someone could just keep the lights on long enough to survive the current downturn in the economy, there might be an attractive future to an investor - especially now that all the FDA testing is out of the way.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeff thats so great that your insurance company approved your ibot one of the few that would do this. What insurance company do you have? Sounds like you are working and I think that being in a group insurance they tend to approve things easier. I am on disability and on private insurance it took me 6 months 7 appeals to get 2500.00 out of them. I also think that Dean is going to do something with his invention. If you watch some of the videos of him he always is coming in on the ibot in balance mode to speak. I live in the Seattle area maybe Bill Gates or Paul Allen would be interested never know. I know you are going to enjoy your bot it is amazing.

TJ

Shannon said...

That's so great Jeff! I would say don't ask questions and don't give out any information until you have the iBOT!

Do you live in Portland? I hear there are a couple of other bots in Portland, but I've never seen another one.

TJ, I wonder if it was you who my sister saw. It had to have been over a year ago, and it was at a trade show. Probably not you, but perhaps it was. I wonder how many there are in Seattle.

I've been thinking that maybe a company such as Quickie will start selling the iBOT. All the FDA and development part of it is done already, and that was a huge expense. I think most companies would do a better job of marketing it than IT did. I hadn't heard that the patent would revert back to DEKA, but that is promising. Actually, I had a friend help me with a patent search the other day, and it looks like DEKA currently holds the patent. So, maybe Kamen will allow another company to market it. I hope so. I've read and seen tons of interviews with him and he at least appears to genuinely care about making this world a better place. I don't think he'll just let the iBOT die, but who knows?

Simon Roulstone said...

I don't know if this is of help, but CTS formed a company called Next Mobility, who repackaged and upgraded the iGlide, and now sell it under the name of the Tailwind.

There is some info here about it: http://www.apparelyzed.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=10513

I wonder if they will take on the iBot as well?

Simon

Jon K said...

Shannon -

I've been on my own quest to understand the demise of the iBot, because I'm a customer for a similar technology that costs even more, has even fewer users, and doesn't even exist yet as a product--the advanced prosthetic arm.

I think that the source of the original R&D dollars that created the technology, the terms of the licensing agreement between DEKA and IT, the manufacturing costs, etc. would all be interesting things to know as part of understanding why the effort didn't work, and, more importantly, how it could be different to succeed.

We don't have an example yet of a successful product to point to, but I've started openprosthetics.org in the belief that open source hardware/software or open design are the best ways to solve the problems of underserved markets like yours and mine. Maybe an "open iBot" is the solution.

http://www.netcraft.com.au/geoffrey/meta/

Obviously, most people who need any product aren't interested in spending years helping with the R&D necessary to get it rolling, but that's the way I've come to feel about the problem.

Anyway, I'd love to hear more about what you've found, your final best guess on the number sold, and any more thoughts in general either on your blog, or by email to jon-at-openprosthetics.org.

Best,
Jon Kunhiolm

Megan said...

Hey Shannon, I just found your website today, but I've already found it very useful. I've had the iBot since Dec. 2006 and I was very disappointed as well to hear that it won't be made anymore. I'm 23, going to college and I've found this chair to be so useful. I'm also very big into photography, so the iBot has certainly helped me find that passion. Thanks again!

Megan

PS - I hope it's ok I posted this here because I wasn't sure where you liked to get comments.

Shannon said...

Hi Megan,

Thank you for the message! It makes me happy to hear that this blog has helped people.

You said that you are 23 and in college. That reminded me of something... After high school I chose a college that was very wheelchair friendly. I choose that college only because of this. It was an expensive private school. A year later I dropped out and started going to a much more affordable University. Of course, universities are quite large, and getting around in my manual wheelchair (especially in the snow because this was in Minnesota), was so difficult. It's one of the reasons I was there for only one semester.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I found the new Power Assist "Tailwind" on the manufacturers website www.nextmobilitynow.com. It looks very cool with a lot of options. They have some video links that customers sent in. Interesting ...

So, since CTS use to build the iGLIDE for JnJ and now design / build the new Tailwind do you think the same will happen for the iBOT down the road ???

rachubon said...

Unless the Tailwind turns out to be financially viable, you can be certain there will not be a stair climber in the future. They have a better marketing strategy than Independence Tech, but still may be hampered by third party payer resistance. Actually, another (and better) stair climber than the ibot was marketed in the early 1z990s and failed for the same reason. I had a chance to test drive one. It was made by Quest Technology. For us iGlide users, the Tailwind may be our salvation when our iGlide dies. My has gone for 6 years without need for a service call.

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