Integrity Biomedical—a Broken Arrow, Okla.-based medical supply and repair company—is a leader in the second-source equipment market. Below, Integrity Biomedical Services President/Owner Michele Shahbandeh debunks myths about the second-source sector and shares how going the second-source route can save hospitals money—and headaches. Don’t miss out.
24×7: What is leading to an increasing reliance on second-source companies in the biomedical industry?
Michele Shahbandeh: Cost: A second-source company can perform the exact repair and sometimes give a better warranty than the OEM. Moreover, when a hospital or medical clinic needs equipment or service, they have a choice: They can go with a second-source company instead of the OEM. After all, a company with experienced, qualified, and trained technicians can do the job for sometimes half the cost of the OEM—something that’s very welcome in this day and age. It wasn’t always like that, though. At one point, going with the OEM was hospitals’ only option.
Today, several second-source companies exist. Although there were a handful of us 10 years ago, now companies like Integrity Biomedical are opening up on a continual basis. Most companies not only offer service, but refurbished equipment and non-OEM equivalent accessories, as well. In fact, hospitals can purchase the same equipment that the OEM offers with the same or better warranty.
Further, second-source companies can now provide installation, in-service, etc.—something that only the OEM was previously able to do. Even so, hospitals need to make sure they’re dealing with a second-source company that has the right credentials.
24×7: What else should hospitals look for when working with a second-source company? And what are some pitfalls that they should avoid?
Shahbandeh: Hospitals should look for experienced and knowledgeable, as well as International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-certified companies. The latter is particularly important since ISO certification means that the company has committed to adhering to documented standards. Currently the standards are of the ISO 9001-2008, but they will transition to ISO 9001-2015 in April. A truly ISO-certified company has management involved and knows how their actions affect their customers. Going through the arduous processes of ISO certification shows the company’s commitment to quality.
The second-source company’s experience is also key. After all, the company may be only 6 years old, but it employs technicians with experience and knowledge. So, check the experience of the person handling and repairing your equipment. Is the technician qualified and experienced or did he/she just get started in the field? Is he/she using the latest service manuals and testing requirements put out by the OEM?
As far as what hospitals should avoid: Companies who lack experience and knowledge.
24×7: What are some challenges of working at a second-source company? How are Integrity Biomedical and other second-source companies working to overcome these challenges?
Shahbandeh: Being a second-source company, rather than an OEM, definitely comes with challenges. One key challenge is having end-of-life status from an OEM; as such, we have to buy the manufacturer’s complete unit to have it parted out in order to work on a customer unit. But that’s also a benefit since we can continue to support the hospital while it’s waiting on funding to purchase new equipment.
24×7: How do you expect the second-source equipment market to evolve in the coming years?
Shahbandeh: In the future, the number of second-source companies will grow—giving hospitals more choices and creating more competition in the market. That’s why second-source companies will start to specialize in more than one manufacturer’s product. They will also start partnering with other second-sources companies that specialize in another company’s products—something that will greatly benefit their customers: the hospitals.