Like 24×7, MedEquip Biomedical came on the scene in 1996—a year when Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office and connecting to the Internet often took 15 minutes. (And who could forget the ubiquitous phrase, “You’ve got mail”?) Times have clearly changed, but MedEquip has remained a leader in the third-party patient monitoring equipment and parts field. Below, company founders Michael Balakonis and Michael Lipson share the secrets of their staying power and discuss how they anticipate the patient monitoring field evolving in the next 20 years.
24×7: Congrats on 20 years of operation. In your opinion, what are the biggest changes the biomedical sector has undergone in the last two decades?
Michael Lipson: Certainly we have a seen a rapid change in technology. The equipment being used has evolved and become smaller and more complex. The reliance upon software-driven devices is rapidly becoming the norm as well as an overall interconnection and communication between medical devices and the health care facilities’ IT systems.
As far as the job goes, we have seen a change in the field from equipment management and technical service/repair to a more complex job where BMETs and clinical engineers have greater roles such as management and consulting, strategic planning, quality and safety, compliance, vendor management, and education all on top of the equipment management and technical service/repair. We’ve seen health care facilities become more open to using third parties for service and repair rather than relying on the OEM.
24×7: How do you anticipate the biomedical industry evolving in the next two decades?
Lipson: I see more integration between equipment and health care facilities’ IT systems. The devices will continue to become more complex and software-dependent, as well as self-diagnosing and remote reporting. I think that there will be less need for physical repair as technology advances and breakdown can be prevented through early self-diagnosis and preventive maintenance. We will continue to see convergence between the biomed departments and the IT departments.
24×7: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges affecting the patient monitoring sector, and how is your company working to overcome them?
Michael Balakonis: We’ve faced technology hurdles and challenges from the start. With technology constantly changing, we learned early on that existing in this market requires MedEquip to stay current with technology and continually innovate. Most modern medical devices are sold without schematics, and almost everything today is software-driven. Then there are proprietary issues with original equipment manufacturers not wanting anyone else providing aftermarket service and support. But I’ve always had the philosophy that if it can be engineered, it can be reverse-engineered. Therefore we’ve placed considerable efforts on developing an in-house engineering team to overcome these challenges.
24×7: What else do you want 24×7 readers to know about MedEquip Biomedical?
Balakonis: Our mission is to provide biomedical professionals with cost-effective, comprehensive equipment planning and service solutions. We don’t just throw parts at a problem. Versed in clinical application and technical support, we offer our customers free phone support in these areas. And our existing customer base knows that many miscellaneous items are free for the asking. We will also continue to support and sponsor biomedical associations nationwide. Ultimately, it’s feedback and open communication with our customers that drive MedEquip. As owners, Michael and I will always remain accessible to our customers and suppliers no matter how large we grow.
Lipson: We also want readers to know that we pioneered multi-vendor patient monitoring repair and service on a third-party basis. There are many players out there today with large marketing arms driving down prices, but the quality of repairs and service just isn’t there. MedEquip remains a leader in service and provides quality repairs for Philips/HP, GE/Marquette, Datex-Ohmeda, Datascope, Draeger, and Spacelabs machines. And soon we will be adding Nihon Kohden equipment to this list.