They say that innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. Below, Greg Alkire, vice president of sales and marketing at Sun Valley, Calif.-based Pronk Technologies, sits down with 24×7 Magazine to discuss how innovation—and a little out-of-the-box thinking—led to the creation of Pronk and why HTM professionals are now being tasked with more responsibilities than ever before.
24×7 Magazine: How did Pronk get its start?
Greg Alkire: Our founder, Karl Ruiter, had long desired to start his own medical device company. He had worked on many engineering projects and was the director of engineering for a large medical device company. While researching what innovations would most benefit the medical device market, he decided to attend a local California Medical Instrumentation Association meeting and was surprised at how unanimous and passionate the response was to his question to members about what kind of device would aid them most. They urged him to design easier-to-use, smaller test equipment for biomeds, instead of a medical device.
After all, most test equipment available at the time was large, expensive, and not easily transported. And the department had to share equipment. Karl returned about six months later with a working prototype of our first product: the SimCube®, the first hand-held, battery-operated noninvasive blood pressure simulator.
24×7: Pronk was officially registered as a corporation in 2004. How has the company evolved in the past 14 years and how do you expect Pronk to evolve even more in the future?
Alkire: Our mission is to support the HTM community by designing smaller, rugged test equipment that is also affordable. This allows a department to invest in test equipment for each technician and avoid technicians having to share devices. We partner very closely with our customers on the product development side, where they have a huge influence on the final design and continuing improvements on the products that they rely on.
We also support the local HTM associations by attending their local meetings and providing truly educational presentations. We even started a program called “Pronk It Forward,” where we donate sales proceeds to the association to support their efforts.
24×7: What are some major trends in the test equipment sector and how is Pronk addressing them?
Alkire: The growth of clinics, surgery centers, and remote access facilities is taking more biomedical engineers out of the main facilities to provide remote services. That’s why compact, portable, cost-effective solutions are needed to ensure technicians can maximize productivity while reducing the footprint of their equipment, as well as their cost expenditures. At Pronk, we are committed to providing the most portable test equipment with a wide range of options to best suit their needs.
It is also important to develop solutions that reduce carrying or purchasing extra devices. For example, our new, automated electrical safety analyzer, Safe-T Sim, has a unique feature where you can download our app directly onto your existing smart phone, tablet, or personal computer to generate and capture a complete test report.
The app utilizes the existing camera on that device as a bar code scanner to more quickly and accurately capture the details of the medical device ID into the electronic record. You can also store, print, or transfer those records to a computerized maintenance management system without the need for a complicated integration.
24×7: What expert advice do you have for HTM professionals who are tasked with testing medical devices?
Alkire: The HTM community has such an enormous responsibility in servicing and maintaining a wide range of medical devices while making precise measurements during service. As a test equipment manufacturer, we take very seriously the importance of designing products with a high level of precision that exceed the accuracy recommended by medical device manufacturers for performing service. We recommend always reviewing the level of accuracy needed to service a particular medical device and verifying that your test equipment does have the necessary accuracy required by the manufacturer.
24×7: What else do you want 24×7 Magazine readers to know about the test equipment sector and Pronk, in general?
Alkire: We are always looking for feedback from the HTM community on what new needs they have and what test equipment designs or products will have the greatest impact on making their jobs easier, more efficient and effective. HTM professionals are the front line of reducing health care costs and maintaining the safety of medical devices, and we welcome them to contact us with ideas or problems they are having with their day-to-day work because our favorite thing to do in our role as a test equipment provider is to help solve problems through innovation.