Blue Ridge Medical Imaging Inc (BRMI) was founded by Carl Hoffman, who began his career with Siemens in 1975 after earning an honorable discharge from the US Air Force. After 20 years with the company, Hoffman left Siemens to start his own business, which was officially incorporated in 1996. Now celebrating 10 years in the industry, BRMI is a successful enterprise in the world of mobile and refurbished medical imaging equipment. We spoke to Hoffman about the company’s past, present, and future.
24×7: Tell me about your company and its history and development.
Hoffman: BRMI was started to fill a gap that existed in the mobile and refurbishing business that involved Siemens equipment. We started with one mobile catheterization lab and now have eight mobile labs delivering catheterization, angiography, and combo services.
Our goal was to set the standard for refurbished Siemens equipment. To that end, we quickly became ISO 9001 certified and have been for over 8 years. To me, ISO certification is evidence of BRMI’s commitment to our customers and our professionalism. We have a quality-management system that constantly monitors everything that could impact the quality of our end product—from the suppliers of the screws used, to the paint that is custom-mixed, the training of our engineers, the condition of the products that we deliver and install, and the efficiency of our processes. To maintain certification, we have to continually improve, document, record, review, and analyze key areas. ISO certification also means we listen to our customers to better BRMI, our products, and our services.
BRMI’s 80,000-square-foot facility houses our administrative offices, refurbishing, painting, and prestage operations, as well as a climate-controlled warehouse that is used for storing equipment, ensuring the equipment remains at a constant temperature and does not get dirty or rusted while under our care.
We have in-house training programs to instruct our staff on our expectations for performance in a hospital environment, from being quiet, to ensuring that the hospital property is not damaged and leaving the room swept clean.
Soon, there will be many rooms prestaged for live testing of parts when orders are received. This is a costly undertaking but worth the investment to ensure that parts do not come off of a shelf where they have been sitting for some time. Systems that will be prestaged for parts sales will be listed on our Web site (www.brmi.net).
BRMI offers a 90-day full warranty on electronic parts and a 90-day prorated warranty on glassware, and our factory-trained engineers are available to assist with the parts questions.
24×7: What are a few challenges you have encountered over the years? How has your company overcome them?
Hoffman: The challenge is to always do the job properly for everyone. Being ISO certified helps in this matter. BRMI continually invests in training, test equipment, tools, trucks, transport frames, etc to ensure the equipment is correctly and safely de-installed, relocated, stored, and refurbished.
Due to our rapid growth in parts and equipment storage, BRMI has experienced three building expansions in the past 5 years. The company has proportionally increased its staffing 400% to compensate for the additional business.
24×7: What advice, if any, do you have for BMETs?
Hoffman: I have a few questions. Can your parts supplier offer technical advice? Are the parts delivered on time? Are you purchasing parts from a source that does not understand your equipment and is acting only as the middleman? I would also recommend maintaining a relationship with your original equipment manufacturer.
24×7: Where do you think the industry is heading in the next 5 years?
Hoffman: Catheterization and angiography labs will be around for a long time. However, the trend is moving into the computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markets. The newer MRIs and the 64-slice CTs will cut into the catheterization and angiography diagnostic areas, but therapeutic interventional work will still need a lab for the foreseeable future.
With the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005 looming over the horizon, imaging centers will be taking a closer look at their bottom line. The DRA will drive the facilities to hold on to their equipment for longer periods of time, and purchasing new equipment may have to be put on hold. Refurbished equipment will become more attractive. Refurbished equipment will last a long time with professional refurbishing and proper preventive maintenance. BRMI is here to help the hospitals and imaging centers maintain their equipment to the highest standards possible to ensure quality care for their patients.
24×7: Is there anything else you would like 24×7 to know about BRMI?
Hoffman: We have a group of dedicated professionals that strive every day to be the best in this business. BRMI’s engineers are also available for service support when needed. If there are specialty jobs or an emergency time frame, we can assist with trained staff and prompt service. We are often called to assist with difficult mechanical problems.