Is imitation a form of flattery or simply annoying?

5th October 2015

In this post, I am faced with the question; is imitation really is the highest form of flattery?

Let me take you back to 2005, when Select Medical launched OLA to the community sector of healthcare providers. Back then, these systems represented unrivalled value for money and the product range quickly became established; particularly in the smaller independent care home sector. OLA wasn’t an original thought for an active mattress system, there were several other pressure relieving mattress types already well established, at this level, in the pressure care marketplace. At the time, OLA wasn’t uniquely offering anything different to certain features found on these other devices either. But, OLA was ours – we created it and we were very proud of our creation. And compared to the other pressure relieving mattress replacements and overlays in its class – it was both affordable and reliable!

Fast forward 10 years and there are now three systems in the marketplace all looking remarkably identical, but only one truly stands out as the leader. For some reason somebody took our OLA pump casing, copied it and ran with it for their own benefit. But copy cats can only duplicate visual appearance, matching performance… that’s a different story!

Having sat and pondered for a very short time, we quickly decided not to persue the legal route. Our stance was that copying is indeed a high form of flattery. It came as a great satisfaction to us that we could have such a positive influence in some other businesses. In fact, we believe we have mentored these businesses that have stepped into pressure care with an identical product to ours. Our obvious positive influence as pressure area care specialists has allowed for them to make their own way and not have to think for themselves. It is a huge compliment and a great confidence boost – we obviously do things very well.

When everything around us has already been designed and made, it’s very hard to have an original thought. It takes years to develop and perfect new products and there are very few true leaders who can think on their own. Does this mean others are looking up to us, and admiring what we are doing? Do they want to follow in our footsteps? This I can’t answer. From the outside looking in, perhaps our pumps seem perfect to some who obviously see us as someone to be copied.

Lots of businesses need guidance to innovate with new kit, ourselves included. However, we seek advice from our network of care providers, carers and those we care for. We take their input and shape it to develop new product with new goals.

You’ll never stop those that blatantly copy the steps you make. So I ask you – are copy cats flattering or simply annoying? How would you respond to them? I have given you our answer, but you may have a different opinion.

Our people continue to be themselves; Select Medical don’t follow the crowd we prefer to walk alone in search of new ground…

Since OLA was first introduced under the OLA Classic and Elegant branding, over 10 years ago, this pressure care brand has continuously been enhanced. For those care providers that need to balance efficacy with upfront costs, OLA pressure mattresses hold a proven track record for delivering the very best value in dynamic pressure care.

A simple message to Care Providers – don’t be fooled into thinking you’re buying OLA quality at OLA prices unless it says OLA on the system – our pump is often copied, but never equalled.

For those of you who want to learn more about us, dive straight to the cornerstone of our site and understand more about our C3 approach