Hospital Equipment Innovation

Meditek
Written by Mark Golombek

Meditek is a leading provider of Surgical and Patient Handling products for healthcare. With over thirty years of experience, the Winnipeg-based medical equipment company goes outside of the box to put their knowledge to use in providing customized solutions for healthcare based on whatever the specific requirements are.

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The company sells and supports a wide range of surgical tables, surgical lights, ceiling surgical booms, hospital beds, stretchers and other products by leading manufacturers. To find out more, we spoke with a member of the third generation to be involved in the family business: Marketing Manager Brad Samuels.

Meditek caters specifically to the needs of operating rooms and has always been in the “O.R.”, since 1981. “We have branched out from the operating room, but we are still very focused on specific O.R. products,” says Samuels. “We are not that diversified into all areas of the hospital or all product lines. What came home loud and clear to our team here was that we want to provide excellence in everything we do, with everyone we service and everything we provide.”

The last decade has seen much growth for Meditek, and with that, a need to re-examine the direction of the company. “We needed to refocus and regroup as to what our business value proposition is, what we are and what we meant to our customers – to avoid trying to be all things to all people and end up being nothing to nobody.”

D. A. Samuels started Meditek in 1981, and it has remained a family business ever since. The company roots grew out of another business that has been operating since 1962. Samuels handed it down to his son Mark in the 1990s, and a third generation is now on board. Brad’s father, Mark Samuels, is currently the president.

The business’ former tagline was ‘Uncompromising Quality’ as it has always been focused on high-quality and premium products. A few years ago, it underwent a rebranding exercise to redefine the current value proposition, hence a new motto: ‘Here For L.I.F.E.’ The rebranding was to summarize where the business was going and how it saw itself.

The L.I.F.E. acronym stands for Leadership, Innovation, Focus and Excellence. Meditek is in place to help its users, purchasers and clients in the support of life in places like hospitals and acute health care settings. “Our customers are there to sustain life, so we are here to support that.” A second meaning is to indicate that Meditek is in it for the long term. “We are going to be here for you. We strongly support the products we sell.”

Meditek’s ReNew Medical Equipment & Product Remanufacturing Program is where the business came from when it started in 1981. Operating room tables in the U.S. were being dumped by hospitals after only ten to fifteen years and taken to landfill sites. A business in the U.S. started refurbishing the tables, and Meditek took notice of this practice and brought the idea to Canada. Meditek called it remanufacturing because it offered an exhaustive and extensive process.

“Other organizations were doing a simple refurbish, or what we like to call a ‘spray and pray job,’” explains Samuels. “That was where the business started with the remanufacturing of operating room tables, and then we expanded to include stretchers, birthing beds, surgical lights and that sort of thing. A few years ago, we branded the process and called it our ReNew Equipment Restoration Program.”

In newer operating rooms, a boom hangs from the ceiling and carries equipment, lights and monitors. Meditek decided that there needed to be a simpler, easier and quicker solution to upgrading older existing ORs that don’t have booms. “The only option before was to re-work the whole room, put in mount structures and shut the whole room down for weeks or even months and in the majority of situations this is not even an option. There are many factors such as low ceiling heights, asbestos in the ceilings and just the sheer cost and time required to conduct something so invasive to the profit center of the hospital.”

The solution is the NuBoom System, an ergonomic monitor arm suspension boom that encompasses all equipment management and visualization in a single appliance. “The NuBoom system is a two day installation, and it gives you more flexibility to an overhead equipment carrier boom system.”

The NuBoom system would especially benefit hospitals and centres that want to offer minimally invasive surgery. It is a very new product for Meditek and has only been available in Canada for a month as of March, 2015. The feedback is yet to come, but the company is very optimistic that it will enjoy the same successes seen in the USA and will become an invaluable tool for facilities looking to upgrade ORs for minimally invasive surgery.

Meditek has two pillars supporting its growth. The first is continuously investing in its team in order to provide superior customer service from the right people with the right skill sets. In this way, any growth does not come at the expense of customer care and client consideration. The second is its commitment to being continuously innovative.

With this initiative, Meditek takes on new products and supports developing trends within the industry. Hospital beds are an example of this. Meditek recently partnered with Linet, the fastest growing hospital bed provider in the U.S. Linet has sold over 1 million hospital beds in over 100 countries worldwide.

“We went to Linet because we were looking to take on a bed product in the Canadian market. There are a lot of manufacturers of beds, but Linet were innovative, and what aligned with our company was the fact that they really listen to feedback of the market and design their products around that.”

One of the main challenges facing Meditek, and the industry as a whole, has to do with decreasing budgets for new medical equipment. Hospital budgets are not always growing at the same pace as inflation and certainly not with the increasing demands placed on the market by the baby boomer population.

Samuels attended the HealthAchieve trade show in Toronto last November where he spoke with a procurement manager who was complaining about contingency requests – unpredicted expenses which are taken out of a contingency budget. To avert these, Meditek offers a complete assessment of the state of a facility’s equipment and then help to plan maintenance and replacements accordingly.

Hospitals in Canada are gearing budgets more toward fixing equipment and keeping it going as long as possible. By comparison, American hospitals are far more likely to replace equipment as new technology comes available.

“In some facilities, they are still using surgery tables from the seventies and eighties, whereas in the U.S., they are using tables from the 1990s and 2000s. One of the ways we are helping with that is by helping facilities in actually figuring out where they need to place their funds.” Meditek offers an inspection program called InSight Equipment Assessment which has proven to be a valuable resource for purchasing departments.

“They get a full report with pictures and details from a senior technician. It will tell them how old the equipment is, when it should be replaced, current condition and any issues that need to be addressed. This helps them to plan for budget allocation and be proactive rather than reactive.” Meditek offers a very comprehensive report.

The scope of operations for Meditek includes all of Canada, and further growth will come from some of the new product lines it is offering. The company has representatives strategically located across the country.

“This is a business, but it is not just about us as a company. It’s about our customers and Meditek strives to be innovative to ensure that places like The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have the best solutions to any issues or problems.” When it came to the transporting of

children within the hospital, a better solution was needed. With existing stretchers on the market, there was not enough protection at the head and foot ends of the stretcher when being used for children, and that could have been dangerous as the child being transported could, in fact, potentially slide through or fall out.

Meditek met with the different departments and heard feedback, problems and challenges. It then made a prototype and worked with a manufacturer in England to redevelop the design of the stretcher in addition to providing more functionality. “We really showed innovation,” says Samuels of the stretcher redesign. “They are very pleased with what we have done.” It has been two years since Meditek came up with the new stretcher, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

The Meditek name is very well known in the market and clients appreciate Meditek because of its leadership in the industry as seen through the introduction of innovative product lines.

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