About 2 years ago, I was treating a sweet, elderly patient in my skilled nursing facility who came to me with aspiration pneumonia and a recommended liquid consistency of honey thick. She worked so hard, mastering the use of chin tuck against resistance exercise (CTAR) and base of tongue (BOT) elevation exercises; both in AND outside of therapy sessions. Together, we managed to improve her swallow function to safely tolerate limited flow of thin liquids. Yay, right?! Well, yes and no… I quickly realized how inaccessibly expensive materials deemed “therapeutic” or “rehabilitative” can be. I pled my case to my director of rehabilitation, expressing my patient’s NEED for this adaptive equipment because my sweet patient had variable cognitive abilities and could not complete small sips with consistency. After much going back and forth, the facility agreed to purchase one cup for speech therapy use. This one cup cost approximately $60. One. Cup. Eventually, it came time to discharge my patient to her home. I had to watch her and her husband stress over the financial burden of needing to purchase 2-3 of these limited flow cups. The cost of this possibly life or death adaptive equipment posed a severe financial hardship to them. I say “life or death” not to be dramatic, but because my patient had a proven track record of recurrent aspiration pneumonia with even the smallest of liquids “going the wrong way”. Therapists and patients should never have to restrict their rehab potential due to financial limitations, prohibiting the procurement of effective tools.
In a sense, I was lucky that my facility agreed to purchase even one of these $60 limited flow cups. Speech therapy typically seems to be on the bottom of the proverbial totem pole when it comes to funding in skilled nursing facilities. I guess I should have counted my blessings, right? Well, instead I decided to try to do something about, what I felt to be, a troubling lack of evidence-based, effective, and affordable materials for rehabilitative and therapeutic purposes by creating my own company. I decided to call the company AccuTx, standing for “accurate treatment”, because as clinicians we all endeavor to provide accurate and effective treatment for our patients. Our mission at AccuTx is to fight against corporate healthcare greed by offering quality products at the lowest price possible, in the hopes that clinicians and patients may have access to innovative and effective tools to experience the best possible therapeutic outcomes.
In the process of creating the company. I learned some things about why the cost of healthcare items are so inflated. I bet you weren’t aware that it costs big bucks to have a product included in major rehab supply catalogues and websites. We’re talking thousands of dollars per year! WHAT?! And, guess what… That cost trickles down to the consumer. At AccuTx, we keep costs down as much as possible. That means you won’t find our products in rehab catalogues or websites but that’s ok because we’re not in this to make mad cash. We’re in it to help as many people as possible.
The first product I designed was AccuTuck; a CTAR exercise device carefully modeled after the tool used in Yoon’s research articles which reported good outcomes and preferable use of the exercise in patient’s unable to complete Shaker exercises. At this time, AccuTuck is the most cost effective CTAR tool on the market and is the most compliant with available research. To compare, AccuTuck is sold for $7 per unit versus $200 for its most popular competitor. That makes the tool affordable enough for patients to have their own AccuTuck ball and exercise outside of therapy sessions, increasing effective outcomes! AccuTuck is just the first of our therapy tools developed to challenge cost barriers. Stay tuned for other products we’re developing!