Medical Devices: Know the Real Story Before Your Next Procedure

Medical Devices: Know the Real Story Before Your Next Procedure

If you’re anything like me, you read views and do your research before you buy pretty much anything. This is especially true for big purchases such as a car, appliance or computer, but we also do this for electronics, clothing and a million other things. We want know how things work before we buy them, and the internet can provide us with this information rather easily. So, it’s always baffled me that we don’t take more time to research what medical products or devices are used on or inserted into our bodies during surgeries and procedures.

I just happen to be very close with someone who is a Medical Device Sales Representative and I’ve learned quite a lot about this industry through them. I’ve seen them lose deals with big hospitals because they’ve decided to “save money” and purchase or partner with other medical device companies whose prices are significantly less but their products far inferior. Of all the product reviews or testimonials and marketing tactics out there, you rarely see doctors or hospitals bragging about what products they use. This is mostly likely because they are using the cheapest, junkiest stuff on the market! By going the “cheap route” hospitals and doctors can charge the same prices (or inflate them even more) but increase their profit margins, even if it means the results on the patient aren’t as perfect as they could be. And get this, most of the time, the doctors don’t even have a say in what products they use! It’s all up to the corporate executives of the practice or hospital, who (most of time) have no medical background, training or knowledge.

Everything about the way we buy things is presented to us in tiers. For example: you go to Banana Republic for a top of the line, “high-end” sweater, you go to Gap for a “mid-range” sweater and you go to Old Navy to purchase a sweater on a budget. The quality is close, and in the end you’re getting the same product, but most of the time you get what you pay for; so if it’s cheap your expectations may be lower than something that was more expensive. So, why aren’t medical devices set up in this way? Why, when we need a replacement, aren’t we presented with a list of options? I think we have the right to know and choose what products are used on our bodies. We have the right to know which product is the “Rolls Royce” vs. the “Prius”, and, if I decide I want to “shop around” then I may choose to travel further, to another hospital or doctor, to have my procedure done. If you could afford it, wouldn’t you choose the better knee, hip or heart, when needing a replacement?

Do you even know that options like this exist? Most times, patients focus so much on the doctor they select, that they forget to consider what instruments or products they will be using during the procedure. I’m telling you, if it was me who needed a heart valve, knee, or hip replacement, I’d be looking to find the best of the best doctor AND product available. I may even be willing to spend a bit more to get the best I could for my health and my body.

So, ask yourselves this…when you purchase a product, you typically buy the best your budget can afford, right? So, if you’re going to have a medical procedure done, are you really going to trust that the doctor is going to use the best products on you? Sure they’ll tell you what they use “works”, but is it the best? Do you even know how much your procedure is going to cost you out of pocket? Or what the price difference would be with another option? Would it be worth spending an extra bit of money to get a better outcome? What if you don’t have the extra money and need to use a cheaper product because you simply can’t afford the best-of-the-best? And how effective the devices used during that procedure have been in the past? These are the questions we need to start asking…don’t you agree?

Healthcare, hospitals, and doctor’s offices are business just as much as a grocery or retail stores are. We, as consumers and customers, negotiate, use coupons and save money in any way that we can.  We do our best to read reviews and do our homework before we purchase something as simple as a sweater or some kind of electronic device, why don’t we do the same with healthcare practices and our bodies?!? It’s complete insanity!! We only get one shot at life; I want what’s best for my health, don’t you?

Something to think about…isn’t it?

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Sara Brennan is the founder of WIRL Project and was also recently named as one of the Top 30 Under 30 Future Business Leaders of Charlotte, NC. In her spare time she loves to hang out with her Australian husband, Mitch, her toddler son, Mason, and her two dogs, Koby and Skeeter. She shares much of her life and thoughts in her writing and enjoying being around like-minded individuals who are authentic. Interested in contacting Sara about WIRL Project or other endeavors? Join the WIRL Project community or use the Contact form on the website to get in touch with her.

1 Comment

  1. Profile photo of Becky A.

    Having worked in a post surgical ICU, I find this rather interesting! I’m not really sure who chose all of the various cardiac devices that we used. I will tell you that they would definitely not want poorly performing equipment because, like you said, it’s still a business. You don’t want to have bad results!! It seems that each surgeon has their favorite devices and approaches, so that would be a great conversation to have with the surgeon if you were to have an elective surgery: why X instead of Y?

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