MedEquip Biomedical Services

MedEquip Biomedical Services is a provider of pre-owned refurbished and reconditioned physiological monitors and monitor service components to the health care and biomedical service industries. Founded in 1993 with a $50 advertisement, today the 25-employee company does $4 million in sales from its three-building campus in Miami. The company is also active in the industry, taking part in all the major trade shows.

 Recently, 24×7 spoke with MedEquip president and founder, Mike Balakonis, about the role the company plays in its market and how it serves its customers.

24×7: What motivated you to get into the pre-owned physiological monitor business?
Mike Balakonis:
There are four major manufacturers of patient monitoring: HP/Philips, G E/Marquette, Spacelabs, and Siemens. I saw that there were a number of independent service organizations out there that were specializing in maybe just Spacelabs, maybe just HP. I just came up with the concept of one-stop shopping for all patient-monitoring needs. I spent 18 years in-house managing biomedical departments and realized that in an intensive-care-unit environment, for example, monitors are on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long ,until they burn out, so I always had a monitor that was down. I just followed the example of the x-ray industry, in which there are a number of third-party and alternate sources for parts and service, and I said, “Let me try this for patient monitoring.” It’s just a matter of time before a monitor goes out, especially in the operating room, emergency department, and ICU environments. They are never shut off, and there are two choices: They go to the manufacturer, or they go to me. I charge 50% less than the manufacturer charges, and I offer a one year warranty.

24×7: What is involved with the refurbishing of a monitor?
Balakonis:
We immediately replace the parts that we know from experience go bad over time. Even though a monitor or a board might be functioning perfectly, we know what will eventually fail on this particular board, and we automatically replace that. Cosmetics are easy to do, just cleaning up and replacing certain things. We’re trying to get the monitor to look as close to new as possible. Also, we provide brandnew accessory items with every monitor we sell.

24×7: Who are your customers?
Balakonis:
They are primarily in-house biomedical departments—anywhere from 100- to 1,000- bed hospitals. Large independent service organizations also use us; GE is one of our clients. There are approximately 7,000 acute care hospitals in the United States, and I’ve got about 1,200 of them. We are also very supportive of biomedical associations across the country.

24×7: Has your sales force found that there is a stigma about purchasing pre-owned equipment?
Balakonis:
You’re not going to believe this, but we don’t have a sales force; we don’t have a sales force at all. The products sell themselves. Basically, hospitals’ reimbursements from insurance and Medicare are capped out. They’re only going to get X amount for a particular procedure, and yet the cost for doing business—salaries, supplies, equipment—keeps going up. Hospitals are always going to be looking for ways to save money, and I provide that.

24×7: What purchasing options do you offer for your monitors?
Balakonis:
Besides outright sale, we also rent. We don’t do short-term rentals, but we do anything over 3 months. We have lease-to-own programs in which the price of a monitor is divided by six or 12 payments with no interest. Once the payments are made, the hospital or other facility owns the equipment.

24×7: What sort of technical support do you offer?
Balakonis:
If there is a problem with the unit, we offer technical support. We also offer clinical application support. I’m very selective about whom I hire. I insist that the biomedical technicians have in-house experience so they can relate to the things my customer base is faced with on a day-to-day-basis. We also send out service kits on consignment. The customers issue a purchase order number only when they use something out of the consignment kit. We replace it, and they have a constant source of parts on the shelf. It is kind of like having a parts contract without signing one—it’s called our minimum downtime program. We’re US Food and Drug Administration-registered, and we’re also in the final stages of our ISO 9002 certification, so we’re very quality minded.