Quest International Inc, a global IT and supply chain services organization, prides itself on its ability to offer clients cost-effective imaging service options and IT infrastructure solutions. Though the company serves the IT, industrial and manufacturing, veterinary, and transportation markets, the health care industry remains its core competency, supplying medical imaging peripherals—such as display monitors, printers, and VCRs—and IT infrastructure hardware and support. 24×7 recently sat down with Bill Greenblatt, vice president of sales, Quest International Inc, to discuss the integration of the biomedical engineering and IT fields, capital budgets and expenditures, and the effects health care reform has had on the company.
24×7: Can you tell me about the history of Quest International?
Greenblatt: Quest International was founded in 1982 and started out as a CRT remanufacturing facility. Today, Quest is a leading global IT solutions and supply chain services organization with extensive industry experience, including supporting customers in health care, specifically working with the biomedical and clinical engineers, as well as radiology, PACS, and the IT departments. From our inception, quality has always been a very strong component of our process. Today, we are ISO 9001:2008, 13485:2003, and 14001:2004 registered, as well as being ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 certified.
24×7: What is the company’s mission?
Greenblatt: Our mission is very straightforward: It is to exceed our customers’ expectations for price, service, and expertise, while providing on-time delivery of quality products that maximize the value for our customers.
24×7: What services does Quest provide to the medical industry?
Greenblatt: Specific to the medical industry, which is the vast majority of our client base, Quest provides sales, repair, and exchange for all manufacturers’ medical imaging peripherals, such as all LCDs, CRT-based displays, medical printers, and medical VCRs and DVRs. We are also an authorized reseller for the entire line of AlphaView, Barco, NEC, and Totoku diagnostic and clinical LCDs, as well as an HP and Dell partner.
Our scope of services ranges from repairing and replacing backlights on LCDs to the component-level repair of boards used in other diagnostic equipment and peripherals, in addition to selling new state-of-the-art technology for diagnostic imaging LCDs and IT hardware.
24×7: What is your geographic service area?
Greenblatt: We’re based on the West Coast. However, we have a global reach. We work with customers literally on a global basis. We also have a repair facility located in Germany.
24×7: Are all of your repairs done in-house, or does Quest also provide on-site repair service?
Greenblatt: We have two areas of expertise, where Quest provides both depot repair as well as on-site repair, depending on the product set that we’re working with. All of the medical imaging peripherals—display monitors, medical VCRs, and printers—we repair in-house, where we have a staff of trained technicians and engineers who do component-level repairs and refurbishment. But we have another area of expertise that we provide, which is tied to on-site repair services for all IT infrastructures. For all workstations, servers, and storage devices, we provide service maintenance contracts where we are able to dramatically reduce the cost of the customer’s on-site maintenance service contracts and provide different service-level agreements to meet the customer’s exact needs for their IT hardware.
24×7: Do you offer training?
Greenblatt: As we’re a repair facility, we do not offer training. We do fully support any technology questions and concerns through our customer service department, but we don’t provide formalized training programs.
24×7: It seems as though medical displays would be high on the list of capital expenditures to cut on a tightened budget. Have you seen a decrease in display sales?
Greenblatt: Capital budgets and expenditures have been either decreased or in some cases eliminated. There is definitely added value that we’ve been bringing by providing the repair of a hospital’s technology. In that respect, yes, the service work that we provide has definitely expanded over the past several years to help address the needs of the facilities and their more limited budgets.
Over the last several years, the amount of work that we’ve done in repairing the actual medical and diagnostic LCDs has been extensive. We’re doing component-level repair, as well as replacing backlights and the LCD panels. Historically, people have been under the impression that when they’ve had a very high-end diagnostic and even endoscopic display that was causing problems, they needed to replace it. With our repair capabilities, we’ve been able to dramatically reduce their costs by making sure that their technology continues to work without having to look at a capital expenditure for a replacement of their diagnostic LCD.
That has been a very large component of what we’ve been doing, and all of that has been tied to our clean room, as well as the ANSI/ESD certification—which is electrostatic certification—that we achieved to help maximize the repairs we do on the delicate electronic equipment that we’re involved with.
24×7: Is that LCD service work new to Quest or simply something that more customers are taking advantage of?
Greenblatt: A little bit of both. We have been repairing LCDs for 10 years, but have extended our service capabilities on the diagnostic LCDs and the capabilities that we offer. In turn, we have emphasized making customers aware of what our capabilities are and letting them know that they have alternatives to replacing their diagnostic and other high-end display monitors.
24×7: How has the passage of health care reform affected your IT sales and services?
Greenblatt: Actually, it’s had a relatively minor impact on us. One of the areas where we have been able to offer extended or expanded capabilities is tied to the IT infrastructure that our customers have where the OEMs for the IT equipment have identified a product as end of life, as far as the support of the technology that they have.
A perfect example of this is one of our customers was told by their IT OEM that their IT equipment was going end of life. It was going to be very expensive for them to replace the equipment. We were able to provide them with an IT service maintenance contract for on-site service and dramatically reduce their costs—by hundreds of thousands of dollars—and in turn, it allowed the hospital to meet the meaningful use requirements outlined in the stimulus bill.
24×7: Have you found any trends or shortcomings in health care facilities with regard to IT adoption?
Greenblatt: One of the trends that we’re all starting to see is that there is more of a combined effort between the biomed and clinical engineering departments and the IT department, because what normally had been separate departmental infrastructures are slowly moving together under a single umbrella. I think that is to the hospital’s benefit because now we’re able to offer extended services and capabilities to all of those departments, helping them extend their budgetary constraints.
One of the other aspects is we know that historically, the customers, especially hospitals, are looking at being able to derive added value and capabilities from a more limited number of suppliers. By Quest offering our core competencies on the sale, repair, and exchange of imaging peripherals but also being able to undertake field service on their IT infrastructure, as well as selling them new technology for IT, radiology, and PACS, it’s really been a win-win situation. We’ve helped them maximize their expenditures and derive the greatest benefit from working with one organization in a larger scope and framework.
24×7: With the collaboration between biomedical and IT departments, has Quest been troubleshooting IT problems more frequently with biomeds?
Greenblatt: There is a closer collaboration. What we’re finding is that the knowledge base within the hospital has expanded. A few years ago, we’d work with a hospital to provide them with diagnostic displays for their PACS system. In the past, one department may not have made the other departments aware of what was going on. We’d get a phone call from a biomed or the IT department, saying, “We just received a number of displays. What are these for?” What we’re really finding is that communication is becoming more centralized, and the overall skills and knowledge of what’s happening within the facility are being communicated much more effectively.
I think that while we continue to provide customer service to all of the departments that we’re involved in, we’re seeing that the overall communication has been improving based on the departments slowly melding together into one.
24×7: What advice can you give to hospitals or biomeds that are preparing for or currently undergoing an IT upgrade?
Greenblatt: There are a couple of different things. First, people need to recognize that just because the manufacturer has deemed equipment end of life, there are support options through companies like Quest and others that allow them to look for a long-term, cost-effective maintenance solution. We are still supporting IT equipment that is 10 to 15 years old, and that is without any need for the customer to have upgraded their technology.
We’re also able to provide brand-new technology for servers, workstations, etc. So we’re really able to offer them the best of both worlds, based on what their budget and resources are.
One of the other capabilities that we’ve been working with is that Quest International has a proprietary asset and service-tracking portal called QuestNet. This gives all authorized personnel 24/7 access to an Internet-based portal to provide both tracking and reporting on the functional status of the installed base of IT equipment and any other assets within the facility. I think this is a significant part of the future of where hospitals will be going and what they’re looking for because in many cases, we’re hearing from the facilities that they do not have a good grasp of what their assets are. With QuestNet, we’re able to track all of the assets within the facility and then, in turn, whether it’s tied to the IT side or the imaging peripheral side, they are able to utilize QuestNet to put in service requests for equipment, be it depot repair or on-site maintenance.
The level of technology is expanding both in what people are looking for and what Quest is able to provide them with.
24×7: How long can Quest extend the life of IT equipment that has been labeled end of life?
Greenblatt: On average, a minimum of 3 to 5 years, and, in most cases, it’s closer to 7 or 10 years and beyond. We realize that from the manufacturer’s perspective of IT equipment there are upgrade paths that they’re promoting, but in many of the cases, the technology that is in place does a good job of meeting the customer’s requirements. From a technology standpoint, there may not be significant reasons to upgrade. From a budgetary standpoint, it often is a very difficult process tied to the capital equipment and allocation of resources and funds. That’s one of the areas that we continue to be able to provide cost-effective solutions that the customer may not know exist.
24×7: What new products/services does Quest have on the horizon?
Greenblatt: There is an expanded QuestNet IT asset-management capability that we are introducing, which really allows the customer more in-depth knowledge of the equipment that they have, reporting capabilities, and everything tied to asset management and field-service tracking. Geineris – papildai raumenims ir masei We’re really excited about that, and the response from the health care industry has been very favorable.
The other area is that there are a number of new diagnostic and endoscopic LCDs that we are going to be introducing that will allow for better price performance and greater image quality.
Chris Gaerig is the associate editor of 24×7. Contact him at .