Marketing and advertizing professionals use an approach called branding to differentiate their products. An example of this can be found in the automobile industry. When Toyota wanted to manufacture the upscale Lexus, which sells in excess of $60,000 they knew that people would not pay that kind of money for a brand that also manufactures a $14,000 model called the Yaris. Their solution was to create the Lexus division. Although Lexus is part of the Toyota family it is marketed as a separate brand with separate dealerships and advertising. The success of the Lexus model is testimony to the wisdom of establishing clearly delineated brands. Both Nissan and Honda took the same approach when they established their Infinity and Acura brands.
Branding can be an important asset to biomedical departments who often face the dilemma of not knowing how to respond when asked to maintain lower level equipment such as stretchers, beds, wheelchairs, and sterilizers. If you say no, you risk appearing uncooperative and unwilling to assist your hospital in improving care or reducing costs. If you say yes, you risk being viewed as a low level repair service that is incapable of maintaining high-tech equipment.
It is all about perception: if you are perceived as providing a low level repair service you are unlikely to be called upon to maintain hi-tech equipment. Laboratory, imaging and other departments whose daily operation depends on the reliability of hi-tech equipment might not trust you. Instead, they are likely to rely on outside service vendors. Additionally, it may be difficult for you to hire top quality BMETS who prefer the challenge of hi-tech devices.
I was faced with this dilemma years ago when I was asked if my department would repair beds, stretchers and wheelchairs. Because it was a badly needed service in my hospital, I did not want to say no. At the same time, other departments were asking us to maintain their hi-tech equipment and I felt that it might be difficult to continue to hire more technically trained technicians if I
told them that they might be asked to spend time maintaining low tech items. The answer to this dilemma lay in branding. I told the hospital that I would be happy to provide the service they were requesting if they would allow me to manage it as a separate department with a different name and phone number. The hospital agreed and I set up a department which eventually became very successful offering additional services such as fitting wheelchairs and crutches to the specialized needs of patients.
Sometimes the best answers can be found by looking outside of our own profession. We have to realize that someone somewhere has faced a similar dilemma … and someone somewhere managed to solve it.
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