Without question, the economy has affected almost all aspects of the health care industry. From biomed shops to hospital CEOs to third-party service companies, everyone has experienced the decline in a different respect. And with the pending changes of health care reform, the trend for most has been to cut budgets, lock the hatches, and prepare for the worst.

After speaking with various third-party service companies, however, it’s interesting to see the dichotomy between the end users (biomeds) and the companies that often supply parts and service. A recent interview I conducted with Ed Evans of Bio-Medical Equipment Service Co (BMES) was particularly illuminating. Evans noted,

My theory on [the economy] is pretty simple: third-party companies like BMES are in the business of saving hospitals money. When there’s a bad economy and things are difficult on a larger scale, typically, what health care facilities are looking for are ways to cut costs, ways to do things more efficiently with less expense involved. My theory is that during a down economy is when third-party companies should be flourishing because we’re helping the medical facilities save money.

Biomeds, meanwhile, have seen their budgets for training and education significantly cut, if not tossed out entirely. The recent 24×7 Compensation Survey found that 37% of respondents had no opportunities for training through their employer. One third-party service company–Tenacore Holdings—has counteracted this trend with an incentive system that gives money to customers for training, but the majority of the companies I’ve spoken with have simply noted an increase in the demand for reconditioned parts and training.

It will be interesting to see how this trend develops in the coming years. As hospitals return to the black and budgets increase, many in the third-party service industry could find themselves in bidding wars with their competition and facing an industry that may no longer rely on them as heavily. Until then, however, biomeds and their respective staffs will continue to live lean while the third-party companies see increasing business and save hospitals money.