Hospitals are being robbed

For more than a decade I have walked the halls, storage areas, and patient rooms of over 100 different hospitals.

Whether I am in a rural community hospital or a large medical center there is a lot that every hospital has in common. They all have patients, caring staff, and skilled caregivers. They also have medical equipment of all types, ages, and conditions. Beds, pumps, x-ray machines, ultrasounds, MRI’s, CT scanners, cabinets, carts, exam tables…this list could go for a while. Much of this equipment is regularly replaced as newer, more advanced technology becomes available. But what happens to the equipment that was replaced? Surely it still has value and could likely be used somewhere else.

It does have value and should be able to be acquired by those who could utilize it. Unfortunately, in most health systems this used equipment is practically stolen from the health system. I have personally witnessed the ridiculousness that happens to this retired equipment. It will typically play out in one of the following scenarios:

1. You are paying someone to take it for you: The hospital pays to have someone else come and remove their old equipment for them.

MY RESPONSE: This is outrageous! The equipment still has value and you’re paying someone else to remove it? I guarantee that someone else is laughing as they are walking out of your hospital with it. They just walked out with a lot of your money.

2. You give it away for free: Someone comes by your hospital and asks if you have any old equipment that is taking up too much space. Your storeroom guy tells them that he’s got a whole room full of old stuff that is just taking up space. That someone says, “I’ll move it all out for you for free.” “For free?!” exclaims the storeroom guy. He is so excited to get rid of all of it and doesn’t have to pay anyone.

MY RESPONSE: Little does the storeroom guy know that room full of used equipment is worth thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

3. It walks out the door with your employees: While the storeroom guy may not have recognized the value of this equipment, one of your employees does. They see that it’s just been sitting there unused for the last year. They ask their manager (or don’t) if they can just have it. Manager says sure and the employee walks out with it.

MY RESPONSE: While it’s a nice employee benefit, your employee could be making thousands of dollars on the side selling your stuff.

4. You get taken. A company comes to you and says “Hey, we’ll pay you $20,000 for all of this used equipment. We’ll take it off your hands so that you don’t have to worry about it.”

MY RESPONSE: That sounds great, right? Wrong. The value of that equipment is worth well over $200,000. These groups are typically paying you 10% or less of the true value of the equipment.

Just over a year ago, one of our clients came to me with this problem. They realized the value of their equipment, furniture, and surplus that was just “walking out the door.” They had tried to sell some things on their own, but they were never sure if they were getting reasonable value for it. They also tried utilizing some medical auction sites, but after all the auction fees they would often lose out on 40% or more of the value.

So, they asked me if we could build them a state-of-the-art auction site with low fees for them to sell their used equipment, furniture and surplus to interested buyers from around the country. And we did. Not only did we build that site but we also built a mobile app so they could easily list and buyers could easily bid on items right from their phone. We also built an employee portal so that their employees could bid on items made available to them.

Since launching the solution just over a year ago, they have sold over $900,000 on the platform! Everything from desks, chairs, and empty barrels to ultrasounds, cath labs, and MRI machines. All they need to do is list the item and coordinate pickup with the buyer. We handle the auction, the invoices, and collecting of payment on their behalf. It has been a tremendous success for all involved!

If your hospital does not have a policy and great solution like ours in place, I highly recommend that you make it a top priority. These recovered dollars can help you fund future projects, newer equipment, and more resources.

Reach out to us to learn more about our solution. I’ll personally respond, and we can discuss your opportunity.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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