Hospitals and Health Care & Life Sciences and Health Care & Insurance and Medical equipment

Q&A

October 6, 2010

Dale Hockel is vice president of clinical engineering services at TriMedX, an Indianapolis-based subsidiary of Ascension Health, the St. Louis-based hospital chain that owns the St. Vincent Health hospital system in Indianapolis. TriMedX helps hospitals and health care facilities keep their medical equipment running even as it ages, in part by helping to train the hospital’s own staff to do maintenance and repair. TriMedX grew its number of clients in 2009 by 36 percent to a total of 739 health care facilities. The company employs more than 500 nationally, including about 130 in the Indianapolis area.

IBJ: What’s driving the rapid growth in TriMedx’ business?

A: There are significant cost-reduction pressures. There’s reduced reimbursements. There’s shortfalls within Medicare. It’s just what’s going on. The hospitals are looking for ways to save. And that’s our sweet spot.

IBJ: How is the new health law affecting your business?

A: There’s a lot of uncertainty around health care reform and everybody’s navigating their way through that. The equipment maintenance costs are increasing. The diagnostic equipment part increased 17 percent from last year. What we’re really doing is helping our customers reduce their reliance on manufacturers’ service contracts and be able to rely on their internal resources to take care of that equipment. The OEM has the warranty period and then they will have a service contract that they want to sell you. We’re able to go in there and look for ways to do that [using the hospital’s own personnel].

IBJ: Because of increasing price pressures, do you expect medical-equipment manufacturers to make innovations differently than they have before because of the price pressures?

A: If I’m in the medical-equipment space, yeah, I hope I’m being smarter in what I’m investing in. There’s a lot going on with electronic records. The $2 billion a year in [medical-device] fees in health care reform, that should drive health care providers to extend the life of existing equipment. That’s where we play.

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